Via ENFIELD. STATE ROAD with blue markers.
From City Hall go east on Central Row and State St. and north on the Boulevard to the river and the magnificent new $3,000,000 nine arch stone bridge, completed in 1908, on the site of the old wooden toll bridge burned in 1895. From the bridge down stream is the great plant of the Colt Firearms Company, above are Riverside Park and the Keney Memorial Tower.
From EAST HARTFORD (1.8) a trunk line State Road marked in red, Route 3, runs eastward to Willimantic, Putnam, etc. The route to Springfield turns north following the trunk line State Road, marked in blue, on the east bank of the Connecticut, and generally parallel with and half a mile from the river bank. It is a succession of village streets almost completely lined with houses and tobacco farms.
East Hartford was the home of a man who more than any other had to do with the settlement of Connecticut valley. He was Wahquinnacut, a leader of the Podunks, who went to Boston and Plymouth in 163r to urge the English to come to settle in his beautiful valley with its rich meadows and abundant fur and fish. The Podunks had a stronghold on Fort Hill to the east of the present Main St., and lived peaceably enough with the white settlers until King Philipes War. A few of them continued to live near the Podunk river until the middle of the eighteenth century.
Two miles to the east is the little factory hamlet of Burnside, at the falls of the Hockanum river, where since 1784 paper has been made on the site now occupied by the East Hartford Mfg. Co., makers of fine writing papers.
Originally this was known as Pitkins Falls, from a family of that name which early established a fulling mill here. Colonel Joseph Pitkin had an iron forge here, but in 1750, when the British trade regulations stopped iron working in the Colonies, he transformed it into a factory for the manufacture of gunpowder by a grim sort of justice, to be used against the home government in 1775.
6.0 SOUTH WINDSOR. Alt 70 ft. Pop (twp) 2251. Hartford Co. Settled 1640. Tobacco.
The village was formerly part of East Windsor, and East Windsor Hill Post Office today is in South Windsor.
During the Revolution many prisoners of war were sent here for safe keeping, among them William Franklin, Royal Governor of New Jersey, and son of Dr. Franklin. Governor Franklin was quartered at the house of Lieutenant Diggin, about a mile south of the Congregational Church, where he lived in princely style. He was extremely fond of sour punch, and in a retired bower near Podunk Brook he prepared and served his favorite beverage to his French visitors, for Lafayette after the abandonment of the project for invading Canada made his headquarters here in the house of Mr. Porter. The ancient elms still bordering the road were planted by British and Hessian prisoners at the suggestion and under the direction of Lafayette.
John Fitch, the inventor of the first steamboat, was born here in 1743. The Fitches were early settlers in Windsor. Johnes unhappy childhood under a grim taskmaster of a father was followed by an equally unhappy life. Apprenticed to Timothy Cheney to learn clock-making, he was kept at ignoble tasks instead of being taught the trade. In the Revolution his efforts to serve his country were unappreciated. As early as 1785 he constructed a brass model of a small paddle-wheel steamboat which he tried out with entire success. In 1788 he obtained patents from four States and in 1791 from the U.S. Federal Government, covering the application of steam as a motive power for marine purposes. His first boat, built in 1787, maintained a speed of eight miles an hour over a course of one mile and later made a whole day’s run of eighty miles at Philadelphia. Fitch predicted that in time to come the Atlantic would be crossed in steamboats. He was too early for his time, however, and misfortune followed him. On the trial trip of a new boat with three paddle-wheels and a tubular boiler, the, boiler burst. He went to France to introduce his invention, but, the French Revolution coming on, his enterprise proved a failure. After vain attempts to interest capitalists, and a period of wandering in the Ohio river country during which he was taken captive by Indians and his health impaired by exposure, he died a suicide in 1788 in Kentucky. The site of his birthplace is marked by a monument on the old Kinges Highway, a quarter mile east of the route.
At East Windsor Hill near the northern limits of South Windsor on the right side of the road near the old cemetery was the birthplace of Jonathan Edwards, the celebrated divine of the eighteenth century, who discovered that “hell is paved with infants’ skulls.”
8.0 EAST WINDSOR. Alt 86 ft. Pop (twp) 3362. Hartford Co. Settled 1638. Mfg. silks and woolens.
Two miles north of Podunk River is the old Grant family house, with a highboy doorway. This was the ancestral home of Gen. U. S. Grant’s forefathers. The old brick buildings on the -same side of the street were formerly occupied by the Theological Seminary, now removed to Hartford.
At Warehouse Point (13.5) in 1638 William Pynchon built a warehouse at the foot of the falls, where furs and merchandise were loaded on sea-going vessels. The site has been located by antiquaries about a hundred yards below the present ferry. Rye gin is extensively made here.
On the wide Toll Bridge from Warehouse Point to Windsor Locks is the quaint sign of the ancient East Windsor Ferry:
“Each ox or other neat kine .06 1/4c Each sheep swine or goat 7 mills `No Trust”‘
17.5 ENFIELD. Alt 78 ft. Pop (twp) 9719. Hartford Co. Settled 1681. Mfg. carpets and coffin hardware.
The situation on a level terrace of the Connecticut commands a broad view. The Shaker village in the valley to the east was established here in 1788. Near it is the village of Hazardville, where there are extensive powder mills. Settled by people from Salem, Enfield remained within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts until 1752 because of a mistake of the early surveyors in setting the boundary line of Massachusetts too far south.
As we cross Fresh Water Brook on the left is the manufacturing town of THOMPSONVILLE (18.5) with long-established carpet works and factories for the production of printing presses. The father of local manufacturing interests is Orrin Thompson, who served an apprenticeship in a New York carpet store, returned to his home town, set up a factory for manufacturing carpets in 1828, and so founded an industry which thrives to this day.
Just beyond Conchusett Farm (20.5) the road crosses the Massachusetts State Line at which is State Line Park.
222 LONGMEADOW. Alt 64 ft. Pop 1084 (1910), 1782 (1915). Hampden Co. Mfg. brick and tile.
The long, narrow village Green is to the right. The church on the Green has a bell cast in 1810 by Paul Revere. At the end of the village, with a brown sandstone mile post in front, is the romantic old Ely Mansion, built about 1774 by Deacon Nathaniel Ely, Jr., from brick baked in front of the site.
Here were spent five years of the boyhood of the Dauphin of France; as Eleazar Williams later supposed himself to be. To the deacon came for their education in 1800 two young kinsmen, Eleazar and John Williams, grandsons of Eunice Williams of Deerfield (R. 10). John showed every evidence of Indian blood and failed to profit by his associations and study. Eleazar was a lovable boy, courtly and noble in his bearing. Not until much later, as the result of accumulated evidence, did he come to believe himself the lost son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Much of his later life was spent as a missionary with the Oneida Indians, with whom he became a strong influence.
Leaving Longmeadow there is a view ahead of Springfield, with Mt. Tom and the Holyoke range to the north. To the left is the white tower of the new City Hall. On entering Springfield on Pecousic Ave., Forest Park lies to the right, with a monument to President McKinley and the Barney mausoleum and residence. At the fork bear to the right, across the Mill river into Main St., the center of the city, meeting Route 13 from the Berkshires and the West.
27.0 SPRINGFIELD. Alt 100 ft. Pop 88,926 (1910),102,103 (1915); 28,000 foreign-born. County-seat of Hampden Co. Settled 1636. Indian name Agaam or Agawam, “meadow.” Distributing center. Waterpower from Mill River. Mfg. firearms, skates, paper, toys, foundry and machine-shop products, textiles, machinery, automobiles, motorcycles, railroad cars; meat packing. Value of Product (1913), $43,509,000; Payroll, $9,948,000.
Springfield, the chief city of western Massachusetts, rivals Hartford in population, wealth, civic pride, and the natural beauty and advantages of its situation. Many examples of fine architecture give the city a dignity which is well maintained by its spacious parks, beautifully shaded streets, and the excellence of its educational and public institutions. During the past few years there has been a good deal of agitation for the reclamation of the picturesque waterfront, now marred by railway tracks.
The city is built on a sandy plain along the east bank of the Connecticut and on a series of terrace-like slopes which rise to an altitude of about 150 feet above the sea. The situation at the junction of the Boston & Albany and the New York, New Haven, & Hartford railroads makes it the important distributing center for the middle Connecticut valley region.
Large slaughter-houses and meat-packing plants are situated here, and there is a wide diversity of local industries; but to the outer world Springfield brings to mind the historic Arsenal, Smith & Wesson Revolvers, and Barney & Berry Skates.
Court Square, shaded by many noble old elm trees, is the civic and historic center. The plot was bought in 1820 for $3000 by a group of citizens, and was presented to Hampden County. Here in the Colonial days stood the stocks and the whipping post. Next the meeting house was the old Parsons Tavern, where Washington drank his flip. “Reached Spring-field by 4 o’clock,” he wrote in his Diary under the date of Oct. 21, 1789, “and while dinner was getting, examined the Continental Stores at this place. . . . Gen. Shepherd, Mr. Lyman and many other Gentlemen sat an hour or two with me in the evening at Parsons’s Tavern, where I lodged, and which is a good House.”
In the Square stands the sturdy bronze figure of Sergeant Miles Morgan, with bell-mouthed gun over his shoulder and hoe in hand, who came from Bristol, England, in 1636, and later settled in Springfield. He became the progenitor of the multi-millionaire New York financiers. The Court House (1874), at the southwest corner of the Square, was one of the, first buildings designed by Henry H. Richardson, the famous architect. The First Congregational Church, a fine example of the old New England meeting house, built in 1819, is the fourth edifice of this congregation, organized in 1637. The copper weathercock which surmounts the spire was made in England, and has looked down upon the town for over a century and a half.
The new Municipal, Buildings, facing Court Square, constitute one of the finest architectural groups in the country. It consists of two classic structures of Indiana limestone, with colonnades of ten forty-foot Corinthian columns, completed in the fall of 1913 at a cost of $2,000,000. In the building on the right are the city offices, and on the left the Auditorium, with a seating capacity of 4200. Between them stands the Campanile, or clock tower (300 ft), from which there is an extensive view of the Connecticut valley. The twelve bells in the tower chime the `Cambridge Quarters’ of Handel and are also used for ringing carillons.
Main Street, a prosaic business thoroughfare, is the industrial artery of the city. It follows the course of the old Indian trail along which were built the log huts of the first settlers. Some of the most notable buildings fronting on it are the Post Office and Customs House, the Third National Bank Building, the Union Trust Company, and the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. North of the Square is the shopping district, and south is the State Armory.
The “Springfield Republican ” has a national reputation. On the front of the building at Main St. and Harrison Ave. is a bronze relief of Samuel Bowles by Daniel Chester French. The paper was established in 1824 by Samuel Bowles, whose son (d. 1878), grandson (d. 1915) of the same name, and great-grandson, Sherman Bowles, have carried on his traditions of editorship. At first a weekly, in 1844 it became a daily, and in 1878 the first Sunday issue appeared. In 1849 Dr. J. G. Holland became the editor and gave the “Republican” a literary flavor it long retained. He bought an interest, and his intimate association with it extended. through seventeen years. Holland’s home where he wrote the best of his historic romances, “The Bay Path,” was at 115 High St. His grave in the Springfield Cemetery is marked with a bronze bas-relief by Saint-Gaudens.
The railroad is carried across Main St. on a massive stone arch of fine architectural lines. The station building was de-signed by H. H. Richardson, but has an inefficient track arrangement and inadequate platform facilities. Opposite the station, on a blank brick wall, during the summer of 1915, was displayed this flamboyant legend in lines sixty feet long, and letters two feet high:
“Some one has said that when the Creator had made all the good things there still remained some work to do; so he made beasts and reptiles and poisonous insects, and when he had finished there were some scraps left; so he put all these together, covered it with suspicion, marked it with a yellow streak, and called it a Knocker.
“This product was so fearful to contemplate that he had to make something to counteract it; so he took a sunbeam, put in it the heart of a child, the brains of a man, wrapped these in civic pride, covered it with brotherly love, gave it a mask of velvet and a grasp of steel and called it a Booster.”
At either end of the gigantic legend are two marvelous bits of `still life’; a twenty-foot peach basket out of which roll brilliant peaches two feet in diameter, and a cantaloupe twenty feet in diameter, enticingly cut open.
Hampden Park, a one-time race track, is now a baseball ground. It originated from a horse show held here in 1852 and was opened with an oration by Henry Ward Beecher. Four bridges span the river, the most ancient of which is the Old Toll Bridge, a covered wooden structure originally built in 1805 by Isaac Damon with funds raised in part by lottery and rebuilt in 1816. The project was considered a great engineering enterprise and met with violent opposition. In town meeting one of the local bigwigs solemnly declared, ” Gentlemen, you might just as well undertake to bridge the Atlantic!;’
State Street extends across the city from the river, its continuation eastward being known as Boston Road. It is a broad and dignified thoroughfare, delightfully shaded and bordered by some of the city’s most notable institutions.
The new City Library on State St. was the gift of Andrew Carnegie ($200,000) and 378 Springfield citizens ($155,000). It is a beautiful and stately example of Italian Renaissance architecture in Vermont marble, designed by Edward L. Tilton. At present the Library contains 200,000 books and has capacity for half a million. It has an enviable reputation for the liberality and efficiency of its management.
In Merrick Park, adjoining the Library grounds, stands Saint-Gaudens’ vigorous and masterly statue “The Puritan,” ostensibly a representation of Deacon Samuel Chapin. As Supreme Court Justice Hughes together with his friend were being shown about the sculptor’s studio at Cornish by Mrs. Saint-Gaudens, they paused before the statue of “The Puritan,” typical in garb and pose of the austerity and sternness of the type. Gazing up into his hard-lined face, the friend broke the silence with the platitude, “Ah, that was the kind of men that made America.” Judge Hughes came back quickly: “Thank God they made only a little part of it.”
The Art Museum, adjacent to the Library, is in the same general style of architecture. In panels on the end walls are set in metal letters the names of the world’s great artists, including those of China and Japan. The George Walter Vincent Smith collection of Oriental porcelains, cloisonnes, bronzes, jades, lacquers, etc., occupy many rooms. There are also interesting Mohammedan manuscripts and an excel-lent collection of ancient Oriental rugs. Mrs. Smith’s collection of laces and embroideries fills many cases. Springfield’s advanced position in the art world is largely due to the influence and inspiration of George W. V. Smith, a traveler and connoisseur *ho had exceptional opportunities for bringing together an unusual collection of Japanese and Chinese art. On his offering to bequeath his collections to the City Library Association a building was provided by the subscriptions of the public-spirited citizens. The Science Museum, a low building with a Doric portico, back of the Art Museum, contains natural history collections. At 49 Chestnut St. is the house in which George Bancroft, the historian, lived during his three years’ residence in Springfield, 1835-38.
Nearly opposite the Library and Museum is a notable group of school buildings, the new million-dollar High School of Commerce, the great Technical High School, one of the largest in New England, and the Central High School. Throughout the city the school buildings are conspicuous. Springfield early took rank in the educational world through the influence of Dr. Thomas M. Balliet, who from 1888 to 1904 was in charge of the school system, and put Springfield on the map of the educational world.
The American International College, located since 1888 on upper State St., trains foreign young men and women of twenty nationalities in American ideals and gives them a command of the English language. The Y.M.C.A. Training College, where secretaries and gymnasium instructors are prepared for their special work, is the only one of the kind. The MacDuffle School occupies the homestead of the father of the late Samuel Bowles on Crescent Hill.
The Church of the Unity, on State St., opposite the Library, which is adorned with some splendid Tiffany windows, and the North Congregational Church, two blocks north on Salem St., are the work of H. H. Richardson. In the parish house of Christ Church, Chestnut St. near State, is another notable work of art, the painted glass window of Mary at the Tomb, by John La Farge. The Holy Family Church, on Eastern Ave., a fine example of the Early English Perpendicular, contains carvings by Kirchmayer of Oberammergau.
The old Rockingham House, a relic of stage coach days, still stands at the corner of State and Walnut Sts. Opposite it, in Benton Park, is a curious guide stone, erected in 1763 by Joseph Wait, a Brookfield merchant who lost his way here in a blinding snow-storm. Masonic emblems are carved on the stone, which is scarred by bullets fired by General Shepard’s troops at Shays’ insurgent forces, and bears the inscription, “For the benefit of travellers,” above which appears the motto, “Virtus est sua merces.”
The United States Arsenal, established by Congress in 1794, occupies a part of 74 acres on the left of State St. The spacious and well kept grounds are entered at the south corner and are open to the public during working hours. (Passes must be procured at the office.) The venerable buildings are of simple and agreeable proportions, standing on a slight elevation. The main building is a reproduction of the East India house in London and was built in 1846. Its low four-square tower commands a view of the Connecticut valley that elicited such enthusiastic praise from Thackeray. Toward the north is the Mt. Holyoke range, with Mt. Tom in the foreground and the Connecticut winding between fertile meadows; to the south is the lovely Pecousic valley and the old village of Longmeadow; eastward are the hills of Wilbraham; and to the west the Berk-shire Hills; the city itself is almost hidden in masses of foliage.
To the southeast are the barracks, guard house, middle and eastern arsenal. To the north is the long building occupied by the ordnance storekeeper, general offices, and milling department; and fronting Federal St. are the machine, polishing, carpenter, and paint shops. The main arsenal has a storage capacity of 500,000 Springfield rifles; with the other buildings the capacity is 1,000,000. The U.S. Watershops, where the forging and heavier work on the Springfield rifles is done, are about a mile southeast of the Armory. The plant normally employs 1300 workmen and has a capacity of 140,000 Spring-field rifles a year.
When on their wedding journey from Pittsfield, Longfellow and his second wife visited the Arsenal. The polished rifle barrels arranged in tiers against the walls prompted Mrs. Longfellow to compare them to organ pipes.
Maple Street, shaded by elms and maples, leads to Crescent Hill, which commands another inspiring view of the city and the valley. Along this street are many handsome modern and Colonial residences with ample and tasteful grounds. The palatial million-dollar stone residence of Daniel B. Wesson was recently sold to the Colony Club for $60,000. The Cynthia Wesson Memorial Hospital, on High St., with its projecting cornice, suggests a Florentine palazzo. Off Maple St. is also the Springfield Cemetery, wherein is the grave of Mary Pynchon Holyoke, a daughter of William Pynchon, marked with a stone bearing this quaint inscription:
“HERE LYETH THE BODY OF MARI THE WIFE OF ELIZUR HOLYOKE WHO DIED OCTOBER 26 1657.
“Shee yt lyes here was while shee stood A very glory of womanhood Even here was sowne most precious dust Which surely shall rise with the just.”
At the southern entrance to the city is Forest Park, a beautifully wooded and picturesquely watered land of over 500 acres. The park was begun in 1884 by a gift of sixty-five acres of land from O. H. Greenleaf. To this Everett Barney, the skate manufacturer, added 104 acres from his adjoining estate, and there have been several subsequent additions. It contains some beautiful gardens, an elaborate collection of lotus and other Oriental plants, and a zoological collection.
Through the Barney estate flows Pecousic Brook forming fantastic water gardens. The Barney & Berry Skate factory is near at hand and conspicuous from the railroad.
The Annual Music Festival, now held in the new Municipal Auditorium, dates from 1889 and is one of the principal musical events of western New England. It brings to Springfield the world’s famous operatic and concert stars.
The National Dairy Show will be held from October 12th to 21st on the grounds of the Eastern States Agricultural and Industrial Exposition, West Springfield (R. 10).
Industrial conditions of Springfield are more settled than in most industrial centers. The city is practically free from slums, and even the factory operatives have homes of their own with space for gardens and outdoor life. The modern principle of wage regulation and a short working day was laid down by the first settlers of Springfield, who provided that, “All teames consisting of 4 cattill with one man, shall not take above 6 shillings a day wages: From May till October to work eight hours, and the other part of the year six hours for theyre day’s worke.”
The city’s best known manufactured products include revolvers and automatic pistols, made by Smith & Wesson, established in 1857; the Barney & Berry Skates, made here since 1864, the Hendee Manufacturing Company’s Indian Motor-cycle, Knox Tractors, the Bosch Magneto, Milton Bradley’s kindergarten supplies, the Tabor-Prang Art Company’s publications, G. & C. Merriam’s Webster’s Dictionaries, and the Orange Judd Company’s agricultural publications. Among other industrial firms of importance are the Wason Mfg. Co. (steel R.R. and trolley cars), the Package Machinery Company, Cheney Bigelow Wire Works, and the U.S. Envelope Company. Springfield, too, is an insurance center second only to Hartford in New England. The two most important firms are the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company.
When John Oldham and his companions in 1633 pushed westward over the Indian trail they reached “the Long River,” where Spring-field now is. There they found a village of the Agawam Indians, whose Sachem “used them kindly” and gave them some beaver. The following year William Pynchon and his son probably visited this region. Pynchon, a man of gentle birth, had been a landed proprietor at Springfield, England, and was the founder in 1630 of Roxbury, Mass. He was too broad and open-minded to get on comfortably with the Bay Colony leaders, and after a brief period 0f uneasiness determined to move west. In the summer of 1635 he sent two men to the Connecticut valley to prepare a house at the place called Agawam. This first house was built on the site of West Springfield, but when Pynchon and his company arrived in the spring of 1636 he was advised by the friendly Indians that at high water that region was overflowed and consequently their settlement was established on the east bank. This was made a month before the `Hookerites,’ who reached Connecticut by another route, the old Connecticut Path, settled at Hartford.
William Pynchon was an unusual man for his time. He wrote a book, “The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption,” which was published in England. The General Court at Boston, suspecting heterodox opinions, tried the Book and it was condemned and executed by public burning in the Boston Market Place (1650),a holy orgy that must have delighted those narrow-minded bigots who thought they were thus serving God. This intolerance of the lovers of `religious libertye finally drove Pynchon back to England in 1652.
His son, John Pynchon, however, remained the leading spirit of the settlement. His account books, still preserved in the city library, record that from 1652 to 1657 he bought from the Indians and shipped to London 9434 beaver skins, 320 otter skins, and other skins and furs in great quantity. The fur trade with the Indians afforded huge profits, ,even to hundreds per cent, and suggests that the desire for gain was as potent then as now.
Springfield has the distinction of having discovered the first re-corded case of witchcraft in New England. Hugh Parsons was a somewhat cantankerous carpenter whose sharp tongue had made him enemies. Goody Parsons, his wife, no more sweet-tempered than her husband, made enemies on her own account. She was afflicted with occasional attacks of what we would today call insanity, which convinced her neighbors of her social intimacy with the devil. At her trial in 1651 she and her husband mutually accused each other of witchcraft, but both were acquitted of that charge. This episode has been utilized in Holland’s story “The Bay Path.” It was ten years later that witchcraft broke out at Hartford and Wethersfield, and forty years before the epidemic reached Salem.
The Agawam Indians lived amicably with the settlers, and even at the outbreak of King Philip’s War (1675) protested friendship. Their fort on Long Hill, a mile south of the settlement, stood on a plateau at the head of a ravine near the present Forest Park. They yielded to Philip’s machinations, and, plotting to attack the settlement, secretly admitted 300 hostiles to their fort. The plot was revealed by Toto, a domesticated Indian in the household of the Walcott family at Windsor. A messenger was immediately dispatched to Springfield to warn the inhabitants, and Lieutenant Cooper and Thomas Miller rode out to the fort as scouts. As they approached, both were fired upon,Miller was killed, and Cooper, though mortally wounded, succeeded in keeping his seat until he reached one of the fortified houses, where he fell dead. The Indians immediately fell upon the settlement, which then consisted of about forty dwellings mostly with thatched roofs. Pynchon and his train-band were then away in Hadley, and the settlers took refuge in the three fortified garrison houses. That of Major John Pynchon, built in 1660, was of brick with walls two feet thick, and stood an interesting relic of Colonial times until torn down by his descendants in 1831. Most of the houses and all of the barns and mills were burned. So great was the terror that the inhabitants were inclined to abandon the settlement, but Major Pynchon and the Bay State Governor stood strong for its maintenance as an outpost, and the male inhabitants were enrolled as state militia.
The danger was so great that all that winter no one at Longmeadow attempted to come to Springfield to church. Early the following spring a party of sixteen men on horseback with their women and children riding on pillions started from Longmeadow to attend church at Springfield under the escort of Captain Nixon and a party of soldiers.
At the foot of Long Hill where the road crosses Pecousic Brook they were attacked. The escort fled precipitately, but later, when it was learned how few were the Indians that caused this ambush, the military escort came in for sharp censure. The Captaines conduct was characterized as “a matter of great shame, humbling to us,” and in-spired the couplet:
“Seven Indians, and one without a Gun, Caused Captain Nixon and forty men to run.”
When the Rev. Robert Breck was called to the First Congregational Church in 1734 theological controversy had another inning at Spring-field. It became known to the Orthodox ministers that he had once had the temerity to say: “What will become of the heathen who never heard of the Gospel I do not pretend to say; but I cannot but indulge a hope that God, in his boundless benevolence, will find a way whereby those heathen who act up to the light they have may be saved.” This shocking heresy caused an uproar of protest against the installation of Breck. One of the most bitter of his opponents was the great Jonathan Edwards, author of the inviting picture of a hell paved with the skulls of unbaptized infants, and other pleasing studies in Calvinism. The controversy raged for two years, but Breck’s friends stood by him bravely, with the result that he was eventually installed as pastor of the church.
The hard times following the Revolution created much discontent among the poor farmers and bankrupt merchants of the Connecticut valley, and caused one uprising which threatened for a time to have serious consequences. Led by Daniel Shays, a farmer of the town of Pelham, near Amherst, this was known as “Shayse Rebellion.” He had been a captain in the Continental Army, and conspicuous for personal bravery at Bunker Hill and Stony Point. In 1786 the Shays forces made a demonstration at Springfield in front of the Court House, the purpose being to prevent the meeting of the Court of Common Pleas. But there was no fighting, and the effort failed. On Jan. 25, 1786, Shays and his followers, to the number of about 1900, advanced on the Arsenal, which had been occupied by General William Shepard with about 1000 men, but at the first fire of the regulars the insurgents, who had advanced along the Boston road to about the present line of Federal St., broke and fled, leaving three dead. This was the end of the insurrection in any organized form.
John Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame lived at 31 Franklin St. from 1846 to 1849. Springfield contemporaries describe him as a mild-mannered, smooth-faced man, with heavy black hair brushed straight back from his forehead. He was already very bold and bitter in his denunciation of slavery and was sure to speak at every meeting in the city at which that subject was discussed. He organized the ‘Spring-field Gileadites’ to resist the capture of fugitive slaves, and did much to make Springfield an important station on the famous `Underground Railway’ from Southern Slavery to Canadian. Freedom.
Many writers of more than local fame have lived a part or all of their lives in Springfield. Dr. Holland, whose connection with the “Republican” has already been mentioned, first published in that paper the “Timothy Titcomb Papers,” “Gold Foil,” his “History of Western Massachusetts,” and a “Life of Lincoln.” George Bancroft wrote the second volume of his “History of the United States” in the law offices of Judge Bosworth on Elm St., and the Rev. Dr. Washing-ton Gladden published several of his books and edited the “Sunday Afternoon” while he was pastor of the North Congregational Church (1874-82). But the best known literary achievement associated with Springfield undoubtedly is Webster’s Dictionary, first published in 1828. When Webster died, in 1843, George and Charles Merriam bought the copyright of the Dictionary, which is still published here by the G. & C. Merriam Company.
Route 13 enters Springfield from the Berkshires by way of the Westfield valley, and Route 10 continues up the Connecticut by the east and the west banks.