The Story of Springfield
In the spring of 1636 the little band of hardy forefathers, who were the germs of the present city of 72,000 inhabitants, made a settlement on the banks of the river, which was called by the Indians, who were not particular about their spelling, "Quinnektuqut," and transcribed in the deed by the settlers, who were equally careless orthographically, "Quinneckiot."
The settlement was named Springfield, not because it was settled in the spring, nor on account of the numerous springs that to this day flow from the hillsides, but in honor of old Springfield in England.
For a consideration, much less than the land is now held for, two of the "ancient Indians of Agawam" representing eleven other Indians, who claimed joint proprietorship, conveyed to William Pynchon, Henry Smith, and John Burr, their associates and heirs forever, a large tract of land on both sides of the river, including a greater part of the land now occupied by Springfield and West Springfield and Agawam. It is almost a shame to publish the purchase price, but it is in the ancient deed, and stands as a monument of clever financiering. One parcel of land, without doubt the largest, was paid for with "ten Fathom of Wampam, Ten Coates, Ten howes, Ten hatchets and Ten knives," and two other parcels for four each of the same coin. The deed states that the Indians agree to "truck and sel al that ground" for said consideration, a vivifying glimpse at the way we got our sense of the word "truck."
In the year 1647 the General Court made very large additions to the territory of Springfield, so that it included Westfield, Suffield, a considerable part of Southwick, the whole of West Springfield, Holyoke and Agawam on the west side of the river, and the present sites of Springfield, Chicopee, Enfield, Somers, Wilbraham, Ludlow, Longmeadow and Hampden on the east side. Later years found these towns set apart and conducting their own business, but they do not forget that they were once part of the old stand.
The village was burned by the Indians in 1675, but was quickly rebuilt, and the ashes used to fertilize the Indian corn and early settlers' potatoes. There have been some amateur attempts to burn the city since by white people, but never again was it so thoroughly done.
In 1812 the southerly part of the old county of Hampshire was named Hampden, and Springfield was made the shire town. The necessary courthouse was erected in 1821.
By 1850 the population of the town had increased to 12,498, a bewildering lot of people in those days, and it was proposed to incorporate the town as a city. There was abundant opposition to consummating the plan, the township spirit being strong, but two years later the charter was secured and Springfield became a city corporation May 25, 1852.
Springfield celebrated the 250th anniversary of its settlement the week of May 25, 1886, in memorable fashion, that date being the anniversary of the first recorded town meeting, and the same month in 1902 the fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation as a city.
Glimpses of Events and Incidents and Men that Figured in Springfield's History
Cotton Mather, in his writings, explained the inception of Springfield in this way: "The fame of Connecticut river, a long, fresh, rich river, had made a little Nilus of it, in the expectation of the good people about the Massachusetts bay, whereupon many of the planters, belonging especially to the towns of Cambridge, Dorchester and Roxbury, took up resolutions to travel an hundred miles westward from those towns, for a further settlement upon the famous river." John Cable and John Woodcock were sent forward in the spring of 1635 to build a house, which they did, on the west side of the river, in the Agawam meadow. They remained there during the summer and cultivated some land, and returned to Roxbury in the autumn. But being informed by the Indians that the meadows were frequently overflowed, the settlers located on the east side of the river. It is believed that William Pynchon, alike the founder of Roxbury and Springfield, with Henry Smith, his son-in-law, and John Burr, had visited the spot in 1634 and selected the location of the city of today, so that as far back as we can go the descendants of the Pynchons, Burrs and Smiths can claim the sponsorship of Springfield for their families.
William Pynchon, a man of wealth, education and piety, became the principal man of the town, and, too late for him to appreciate the honor, had a street, a bank, and a hotel named after him. There is to be a Pynchon statue in Springfield some day. In 1638 Mr. Pynchon was made the first magistrate, and served till 1651, when he fell under the displeasure of the General Court because of his book, "The Meritorious Price of Man's Redemption," and he soon after returned to England. His son, Major John Pynchon, succeeded him in importance in the town affairs.
Rev. George Moxon was the first minister, his services beginning in 1637. The meeting-house, which stood not far from the site of the present First church, was not built till 1645. It was the first church edifice in the state outside Boston.
In 1649 witchcraft broke out, and raged for several years. There was nothing then like our state board of health that would have secured germs and investigated and reported on the analysis later. Suspicions were confirmation enough for prosecution in those days. In 1651 Mary Parsons was charged with bewitching the minister's two daughters, for which she was tried and finally acquitted. Pastor Moxon was dismissed at his own request in 1652. He was succeeded in the pastorate by Rev. Peletiah Glover in 1661.
Major John Pynchon, who in the heyday of his activity was the personified trust of the town, being banker, importer and exporter of merchandise, land speculator, farmer, stock raiser, beaver trader and village merchant, owning sawmills, gristmills, cider mills, warehouses and boats, was also a mining prospector, and could never get it out of his head that the hills about Springfield contained iron and other valuable materials. The story goes that he, as did his father before him, spent much money prospecting, going as far north as Deerfield.
John Pynchon built the Pynchon house - commonly known as the Fort, on the west side of Main street and a little north of Fort street, sometime prior to 1660, and it was occupied by the Pynchon family until about 1831, when it was taken down. The main part of the house was built of brick; and it was often a place of refuge for the people during the Indian troubles.
The first recorded marriage was in 1640, when Elizur Holyoke became the husband of Mary Pynchon, daughter of William. The groom has a town up the river named after him. The records of the same year divulge a fine for profanity. Goody Gregory was accused by John Woodcock of saying to him with profanatory preface, "I could break thy head." Three hours in the stocks was Goody's punishment.
The town was incorporated June 2, 1641. In 1647, "Woronoko" was made part of Springfield. Certain common lands were annexed March, 1648, and May 19, 1669, these lands and "Woronoko" were seperated from Springfield and established as the town of Westfield. May 31, 1670, the bounds between Westfield and Springfield were established. The boundary between Springfield and Northampton was established in 1685, and that between Springfield and Wilbraham June 15, 1763, and that between Springfield and West Springfield February 23, 1774. February 28, 1774, a part of Springfield known as Stony Hill was established as the town of Ludlow. October 13, 1783, a part of Springfield was set off and established as the town of Longmeadow. June 11, 1797, a part of the town called "The Elbows" was annexed to Wilbraham. June 5, 1830, the boundary between Springfield and Ludlow was established. April 29, 1848, a part of Springfield was set off and established as the town of Chicopee. And what was left of the original town was incorporated April 12, 1852, as the city of Springfield. A part of Longmeadow was annexed to Springfield June 2, 1890.
The following is a list of inhabitants of Springfield from 1636 to 1664, as given in Barber's book:
William Pynchon, Henry Smith, William Blake, Edmund Wood, Thomas Ufford, John Cabel, Matthew Mitchell, Samuel Butterfield, James Wood, John Reader, Thomas Woodford, John Seele, Richard Everitt, Thomas Horton, Rev. George Moxon, Thomas Mirrick, John Leonard, Robert Ashley, John Woodcock, John Allin, John Burt, Henry Gregory, Samuel Hubbard, Elizur Holyoke, William Warriner, Henry Burt, Rowland Stebbins, Thomas Stebbins, Samuel Wright, Richard Sikes, John Deeble, Samuel Chapin, Morgan Johns, Thomas Cooper, James Bridgman, Alexander Edwards, John Dobie, Roger Pritchard, Francis Ball, John Harmon, William Vaughn, William Jess, Miles Morgan, Abraham Mundon, Francis Pepper, John Burrhall, Benjamin Cooley, John Matthews, George Colton, Joseph Parsons, John Clark, James Osborne, Thomas Rieve, Wid. Margaret Bliss, Nathaniel Bliss, Thomas Tomson, Richard Exell, William Branch, Griffith Jones, Reice Bedortha, Hugh Parsons, John Lombard, John Scarlet, George Langton, Lawrence Bliss, Samuel Bliss, John Bliss, Anthony Dorchester, John Lamb, Samuel Marshfield, John Dumbleton, Jonathon Taylor, Rowland Thomas, Thomas Miller, Benjamin Parsons, Obadiah Miller, Abel Wright, Hugh Dudley, William Brooks, Simon Beamon, Samuel Terry, John Lamb, Benjamin Mun, John Stewart, Thomas Bancroft, Thomas Noble, Richard Maund, Thomas Gilbert, Simon Sacket, Richard Fellowes, Rev. Peletiah Glover, Tahan Grant, Nathaniel Ely, Samuel Ely, John Keep, Edward Foster, Thomas Sewall, Thomas Day, John Riley, John Henryson, William Hunter, John Scott.
In Elizur Holyoke's list of "allowed and admitted inhabitants" were the following names not in the above list: Henry Chapin, John Bagg, Peter Swinck, John Baker, Capt. John Pynchon, Timothy Cooper, David Ashley, Jonathon Burt, John Lombard, Thomas Bancroft, Joseph Crowfoot, James Warner, Jeremy Horton, Syman Bemon, Charles Ferry, Wid. Burt, Jonathon Ball, John Horton. Many named in the former list had left, so that Holyoke's list contained but seventy-four names in 1664. Assuming that each was the head of a family, the number of admitted inhabitants was probably as many as three hundred.
Deacon Samuel Chapin, who came to Springfield about 1640, became a man of prominence in affairs of town and church. He was a typical Puritan, was made selectman for many years, and held other positions of trust.
Miles Morgan, another worthy of the same period, was of the rough-hewn type of pioneer. The records show that although he was elected selectman, he could not write, but made his mark by drawing something in the shape of an anchor. He made his mark in other ways in the growing town, and his namesakes have done likewise. One of them is J. Pierpoint Morgan.
In 1662 Hampshire county was established embracing all the territory between Berkshire and Worcester counties and extending from the Connecticut line to the north line of Massachusetts. Springfield was the shire town; and it was provided in the act establishing the county that the courts be held alternately at Northampton and Springfield.
The first board of selectman in Springfield, elected for the years 1644-45, were Henry Smith, Thomas Cooper, Samuel Chapin, Richard Sikes and Henry Burt.
The early settlers were for the most part farmers. One of the early industries was the gathering and preparing of turpentine from the pine trees in the vicinity, and some regulations were established touching the manner of conducting the business. No one was allowed to work more than one thousand trees at the same time. Those engaged in this business were required to take a license, for which a fee was charged. The money thus raised was devoted to the public schools.
In 1716 Springfield had six precincts: the west side of the river, now West Springfield, Longmeadow, Agawam, Upper Chicopee, Lower Chicopee and Skipmuck. Each precinct was obliged to keep a school running, with financial help from the town.
The Dwight family began to appear in the town affairs about the time of the Revolution, and the old Dwight store, at the corner of Main and State streets, was for many years a leading feature of the town, conducted successively by Jonathan Dwight, Jonathan Dwight & Son, James and Henry Dwight, and J. and E. Dwight. It was a general store, the forerunner of the modern department store in the variety of goods carried. The Dwights owned boats running between Hartford, New York and Boston, and a line running from Springfield to Hartford. They were also interested in the banking business here and in other towns. Jonathan Dwight, Jr., was at one time the president of the old Springfield bank. The family were also alive to other institutions in the profit-making class of banks, and Col. Thomas Dwight and Jonathan Dwight were with Colonel Worthington and John Hooker in establishing a gin distillery on Main street in 1792.
The first Springfield paper was The Massachusetts Gazette and General Advertiser, published by Babcock & Haswell in 1782.
The industrial possibilities of Mill river, Chicopee river, and of other available streams, were not neglected. Cornmills and sawmills were of the earliest industries of the town. A fulling and cloth mill, a bleachery, a small tannery, were established on Mill river prior to the government work on the same stream. About 1800 the Ames paper mill was established.
Springfield had much less population than West Springfield at the beginning of the eighteenth century. By 1810 it had gained noticeably on the rival side of the river, the figures being 2,767 for Springfield and 3,109 for West Springfield. In 1820, for the first time in the memory of those then living, Springfield gained the lead, having 3,970 inhabitants to West Springfield's 3,246. From that time on our neighbor has been outclassed, though it would have been a different story had the Armory been located over the river. Legends say it was almost the toss of a penny which location was chosen.
In the eighteenth century many prominent Springfielders were slaveholders, such names as Pynchon, Dwight, Colton, Day, Mirrick, Ely and Bell appearing as owners of black chattels. Slavery died out in Springfield early in the last century.
Up to the war of 1812 it was not the custom to bolt the doors of houses in the town. A series of burglaries, however, made it fashionable.
An advertisement of the second toll bridge lottery in 1816, over the signature of H. Brewer, showed that the modern style of advertisement writing is no novelty. The public was beseeched in this wise: "There's a tide now flowing and is almost flood tide. Springfield bridge lottery is a fine tide of riches. Improve it. Set every sail. Soon it will be too late. The 26th is at hand."
Thomas Blanchard's invention of a lathe for turning irregular forms, which was perfected at the Armory under Col. Roswell Lee in 1820, was a device that caused a revolution in mechanics and gave Springfield international fame.
At the annual town meeting held in 1848, the year in which Chicopee was set off from the town of Springfield, the last boards of town officers were elected to serve the undivided town. It was a mixed list of Springfield and Chicopee men. Joseph Ingraham, whose service before and after separation covered many years, was chosen clerk and treasurer. The selectmen were Henry Vose, Titus Amadon, John B. M. Stebbins, Harvey Butler, all Springfield men, and Bildad B. Belcher, and Nathaniel Cutler, Cabotville men. The assessors were Lewis Girham of Springfield, Ira M. Bullens of Cabotville, and Pliny Cadwell of Chicopee Falls. Of the overseers of poor, Elijah Blake, David Hitchcock and William Hatfield were Springfield men, Andrew Hubbard was of Chicopee Falls. The board of health were Elijah Blake, Josiah Hooker, Daniel Hitchcock of Springfield, Clark Albro of Cabotville, and Andrew Hubbard of Chicopee Falls. The school committee was composed of Rev. Henry W. Lee, Hon. William B. Calhoun, Samuel McNary of Springfield, Rev. Eli B. Clark of Cabotville, and Rev. Robert C. Mills of Chicopee Falls.
The Massasoit house, under the management of members of the Chapin family, which has continued to this day, was opened in 1843, and long has served to distinguish Springfield. The Springfield house, owned by Charles Stearns and conducted by Bugbee & Clark, made the corner of Bridge and Water streets important in 1844. The Wason car works were started in 1845.
A little strike followed by trouble with strike-breakers interested the Springfield police and militia in 1847. The workmen on the Holyoke canals struck because their pay was reduced from seventy-seven and seventy-five cents a day to seventy cents. The men who took their places at that munificent wage were mobbed, even as today.
The periodicals in Springfield in 1848, just before Chicopee was set off, were as follows: Springfield Gazette, weekly and daily, by William Stow at No. 12 Main street, upstairs; Hampden Post, weekly and tri-weekly, by D. F. Ashley, office Elm street; Springfield Republican, weekly and daily, by S. Bowles, Exchange row; Hampden Washingtonian, by A. G. Tannatt; Springfield Sentinel, by Hawley & Tenney; Chicopee Telegraph, by J. C. Stove & Co., at Cabotville; Cabotville Mirror, by Henry Russell.
The Springfield Young Men's institute was organized in October, 1843. The library numbered about 2,000 volumes. The officers for 1848 were John Mills, president; Ariel Parish, Erasmus D. Beach and Henry Morris, vice-presidents; Ephraim W. Bond, corresponding secretary; Samuel Bowles, recording secretary; John R. Hixton, treasurer; and the couselors were Lorenzo Norton, Elisha Gunn, Jr., Addison Ware, C. B. Bowers, William W. Billings, Allen Bangs, George B. Morris. This institute was one of the links in the evolutionary efforts that finally culminated in the formation of the city library, and seems to have absorbed the earlier literary societies of the town. It had a large membership, and had acquired an excellent local reputation, and received material support from prominent citizens. Its officers were prominent men, some of them of more than local reputation.
Another organization of much local interest was the Springfield Light Guards, organized in 1844, as company E of the 10th regiment, 6th brigade, 3rd division of the M. V. M.; and made its first public parade on the fourth of October, 1844. Its officers in 1848 were J. M. Thompson, captain; B. F. Warner, E. W. Bond and James Kirkham, lieutenants.
The Hampden agricultural society, incorporated in 1844, was another organization of great local popularity, and numbered among its members many well-known men from all parts of the county. Its president in 1848 was William B. Calhoun, one of Springfield's most able men. Its annual fairs were attended by people from all the towns in the county, and it did much to encourage agriculture in the Connecticut valley.
The banking institutions in Springfield in 1848 were the Springfield Institution for Savings, incorporated in 1827. Its office at that time was at the Springfield bank. Its president was Josiah Hooker. The Springfield bank, with a capital of $250,000 in 1848, was incorporated in 1814 with a capital stock of $200,000. Its president in 1848 was John Howard, and the cashier was Lewis Warriner.
The Chicopee bank was established in 1836 with a capital stock of $200,000. Its president in 1848 was Samuel Reynolds, and the cashier was B. F. Warner. The Agawam bank was incorporated in 1846 with a capital stock of $100,000. In 1848 its president was Chester W. Chapin, and the cashier was F. S. Bailey. The Mutual Fire Assurance company was incorporated in 1826. Its president in 1848 was Philo F. Wilcox, and the secretary was Justice Willard.
The meeting-houses and clergymen of Springfield in 1848 were the following:
First Congregational, Court square, Samuel Osgood, D.D.
Second Congregational, Chicopee street, E. B. Clark.
Third Congregational (Unitarian), State street.
Fourth Congregational, State street, E. Russell.
Fifth Congregational, Chicopee Falls.
Sixth Congregational, Cabotville, S. G. Clapp.
Seventh Congregational, Bliss street, S. G. Buckingham.
Eighth Congregational (Unitarian), Cabotville, C. Nightingale.
North Congregational, Free church, R. H. Conklin.
First Methodist Episcopal, Union street, G. E. Landon.
Second Methodist Episcopal, Chicopee Falls, D. Sherman.
Third Methodist Episcopal, Cabotville, L. Crowell.
Fourth Methodist Episcopal, Pynchon street, M. Trafton.
First Baptist, Main street, M. G. Cask.
Second Baptist, Chicopee Falls, R. C. Mills.
Third Baptist, Cabotville, J. G. Warren.
Protestant Episcopal, State street, H. W. Lee.
Wesleyan Methodist, Main street, W. Bevins.
First Universalist, Main street, A. A. Folsom.
Second Universalist, Cabotville, Z. Thompson.
Roman Catholic, Cabotville, Father Cavanaugh.
Roman Catholic, East Union street, G. T. Reardon.
There were twenty-two lawyers in the town in 1848, among whom were George Ashmun, R. A. Chapman, E. D. Beach, E. W. Bond, Henry Morris, Ansel Phelps, Henry Vose, George Walker, John Wells, and Justice Willard, who attained more than a local reputation; and there were thirty-five physicians.
Shortly after the seperation of the two principal villages and the creation of two seperate towns, the political affairs of Springfield became so intolerable that it was decided to apply for a city charter; which was granted April 12, 1852, and was accepted by the town April 21, 1852, by a vote of 969 yeas against 454 nays.
William B. Calhoun, John B. Kirkham, Theodore Stebbins, Eliphalet Trask, and James Ingraham were chosen to be a committee to divide the city into eight wards. The population of the several wards when so divided was stated by the committee as follows: Ward One, 2,222; Ward Two, 2,294; Ward Three, 2,120; Ward Four, 1,711; Ward Five, 1,935; Ward Six, 710; Ward Seven, 688; Ward Eight, 730.
Joseph Ingraham was elected city clerk, and as a clerk made an entry upon the records as follows:
Springfield, May 25th, 1852. This day ends the town and commences the city government. Having been a town just two hundred and sixteen years to a day. And now we go from an old town to an infant city. Joseph Ingraham, last town and first city clerk and treasurer of the old town and new city of Springfield.
Although a list of all the men who have been elected to office since the incorporation of the city would be uninteresting to the general reader, a list of the mayors can hardly be omitted, and in the order of their service the list is given:
Caleb Rice, 1852-53; Philos B. Tyler, 1854; Eliphalet Trask, 1855; Ansel Phelps, Jr., 1856-58; William B. Calhoun, 1859; Daniel L. Harris, 1860; Stephen C. Bemis, 1861-62; Henry Alexander, Jr., 1863-64; Albert D. Briggs, 1865-67; Charles A. Winchester, 1868-69; William L. Smith, 1870-71; Samuel B. Spooner, 1872-73; John M. Stebbins, 1874; Emerson Wight, 1875-78; Lewis J. Powers, 1879-80; William H. Haile, 1881; Edwin W. Ladd, 1882; Henry M. Phillips, 1883-85; Edwin D. Metcalf, 1886; Elisha B. Maynard, 1887-88; Edward S. Bradford, 1889-91; Lawson Sibley, 1892; Edward P. Kendrick, 1893-94; Charles L. Long, 1895; Newrie D. Winter, 1896; Henry S. Dickinson, 1897-98; Dwight O. Gilmore, 1899; William P. Hayes, 1900-01; Ralph W. Ellis, 1902; Everett E. Stone, 1903-04; Francke W. Dickinson, 1905.
The relation of Springfield to other towns in the vicinity, and the methods of travel and of transporting goods and merchandise to and from the town prior to the day of railroads, is an important feature of its history. Aside from the river and private carriages of various kinds, the public at large traveled in stage-coaches, a good representation of them being shown in the old wood cut of Court square, a reproduction of which is here shown, that were usually drawn by four horses, the drivers of which were very skillful and took honest pride in their vocation. As a rule they were a good class of men. Turnpikes, maintained on the toll-gate system, were in use everywhere in New England. Every town had a prosperous tavern for the entertainment of travelers, in compliance with the law that "every innholder shall at all times be furnished with suitable provisions and lodging, for strangers and travelers, and with stable room, hay and provender, for their horses and cattle." As business was usually good they found no difficulty in complying with the law. The transportation of goods and merchandise was done with transportation wagons and horses. This encouraged the maintenance of several small taverns scattered along the way at convenient intervals for the entertainment of teamsters and their teams. Farmers along these routes of travel found ready sale for the products of their farms.
It will aid the reader to a better understanding of the condition of Springfield at this period in its history, by comparing its population with that of other towns in this part of New England at about 1825. Quoting from Morse's Pocket Gazeteer, published in 1826, the following towns are selected at random as to population: Springfield, 3,970; West Springfield, 3,246; Westfield, 2,668; Palmer, 1,197; Blandford, 1,515; Worcester, 2,962; Suffield, 2,681; Pittsfield, 2,768; Hartford, 6,901; Worthington, 1,276; Northampton, 3,288. So it would seem that under the then system of travel and transportation, all the towns had reasonably equal chance. But Springfield enjoyed the additional advantage of river navigation, bringing it, in an imperfect way, in touch with the sea.
Early in the nineteenth century a line of small steamers for carrying passengers and light freight was in operation between Hartford and Springfield. It is said that this enterprise was started by Thomas Blanchard of Springfield. In an account of these boats given by T. M. Dewey, Esq., whose practical experience qualified him to speak on this subject, in a paper read by him before the Connecticut Valley historical society in 1878, he said: "The first was the Springfield, a side-wheel steamer; then the Vermont, a stern-wheeler built by Blanchard; then the Massachusetts, the Agawam and the Phoenix. The captains of these boats were Peck, Mosely and Hoyt." There are living many who will remember the Agawam and the Phoenix, and their captains, Peck and Hoyt. The passage of these boats through the opening in the dam and through the narrow channel to Warehouse Point, was interesting and sometimes exciting. It was not thought necessary at that time to have draws in the bridges to let the boats through, nor was it considered necessary to elevate the bridges to an unusual height. A hinge in the smokepipe with proper appliances to bring it to a horizontal position, was quite satsfactory.
General freighting was done in flat-bottom boats that were usually poled up the river when there was insufficient wind for the sails. The canal at Windsor Locks was used by boats ascending the river. Of the river pilots, Mr. Adin Allen was well known, and survived to a good old age, well into the latter part of the century.
In February, 1842, Charles Dickens went from Springfield to Hartford. The late John Mulligan was the engineer, and the writer learned from him some facts touching this trip. Soon after the Springfield and Hartford railroad went into operation in 1844, the little steamers were abandoned.
The Hartford and Springfield railroad corporation was established by an act of the Massachusetts legislature, April 5, 1839. March 13, 1841, the time limit for its organization was extended two years from the fifth of April following, and for its completion a further extension of three years from that date was granted. And, by an act passed February 23, 1844, the time was further extended to April 5, 1846. The road was completed in the year 1844.
On January 25, 1829, "The board of directors of internal improvements of the state of Massachusetts" submitted a report "on the practicability and expediency of a railroad from Boston to the Hudson river," with maps showing the proposed route substantially as at present located. March 12, 1830, the Massachusetts railroad corporation was incorporated with authority to locate and construct a railroad from near Boston to the Hudson river at some point near Albany or Troy; and was required to complete the railroad before January 1, 1835.
June 23, 1831, the Boston and Worcester railroad corporation was incorporated with the condition that its road should be completed before July 1, 1836.
March 15, 1833, the Western railroad corporation was incorporated to construct a railroad from the western terminus of the Boston and Worcester railroad to the western boundary of the state in a direction toward the Hudson river. The first train was run from Worcester to Springfield in October, 1839. That part of the railroad extending west from Springfield was so far constructed that cars began running from Springfield to Chester Factories, May 24, 1841, and the road was in full operation between Springfield and Albany in 1842. The running time from Albany to Boston was ten hours and three-quarters, including stops. The regulation speed was twenty miles an hour.
George Bliss was one of the prime movers in railroading in western Massachusetts, and the names of William B. Calhoun, George Ashmun, Charles Stearns, Justice Willard and J. B. Sheffield also figure in the early plans for the Western railroad, which matured through the '30s.
The railroad between Springfield and Chicopee was provided for in the act of incorporating the Hartford and Springfield railroad corporation. On March 1, 1842, a railroad corporation was established under the name of the Northampton and Springfield railroad corporation, to build a line from a point in Northampton "to meet the track of the Hartford and Springfield railroad corporation at Cabotville in Springfield." January 25, 1845, the Greenfield and Northampton railroad corporation was incorporated as an extension of the Northampton and Springfield railroad. Such was the beginning of what was subsequently the Connecticut River railroad corporation, and under that name the time for filing its location was extended by act passed April 14, 1847. It was that year opened as far as Greenfield.
The Springfield and Longmeadow railroad company was incorporated May 2, 1849, and in 1866 the act of incorporation was amended so as to permit a location terminating at the state line in either Longmeadow or Wilbraham. By a later act this corporation was authorized to consolidate with a Connecticut corporation under the name of Springfield and New London railroad company, and by Chapter 70 of the Acts of 1869, the city of Springfield was authorized to take stock in or loan its credit to the road. A proposal for a subscription of $150,000 to the stock of the Longmeadow road was accepted by the city government, and the question was submitted to the voters at a special election July 21, 1874. The comments of the Springfield Republican, touching this vote, led to a libel suit of Willis Phelps against the publishers of that paper. Shortly after this vote the road was completed.
In 1856, the Springfield and Farmington Valley railroad was incorporated, and it was to approach Springfield by way of Feeding Hills and West Springfield. For some reason the road was not built. Subsequently the Springfield branch of the Central New England railroad was built over substantially the same route.
The Athol and Enfield railroad was connected with Springfield by act of incorporation in 1871, with authority for the two roads to become one corporation by uniting the Athol and Enfield with the Athol and Springfield.
The Springfield street railroad company was incorporated March 16, 1868, and it was operated with horses until electric power was introduced in 1890. The first horse cars that went down Central street were derailed before venturing to make the descent.
Chester W. Chapin, who once drove an ox team, then drove stages, and soon owned stage lines and a river boat running to Hartford, seized the early railroad opportunities. He was the wealthiest man in Springfield in 1851. He became president of the Connecticut River railroad, and was keen in developing Springfield as a railroad center. His connection with the Boston and Albany railroad was a period of constant progress for that line. He was congressman at one time, was prominent in banking and other corporations in Springfield, being the foremost of local financiers.
The first toll-bridge was opened October 30, 1805, and it is said to have been the "child of a lottery." It was 1,234 feet long and thirty feet wide; it was forty feet above low-water mark; an open bridge painted red, and supported on five piers. Its cost was $36,270. It is said that a succession of floods so weakened it that it gave way under a load of army supplies nine years after it was opened; and it was torn down in 1814. The tolls as established in 1808 were as follows: For each foot passenger, 3 cents; each horse and rider, 7 cents; each horse and chaise, chair or sulky, 16 cents; each coach, chariot, phaeton,or other four-wheeled carriage for passengers, if drawn by two horses, 33 cents; for each additional horse, 6 cents; each curricle, other than two-wheeled carriages for passengers, drawn by more than one horse, 25 cents, each sleigh drawn by one horse, 10 cents; if by two horses, 12 1/2 cents; and for each additional horse, 3 cents; for each cart, sled, or carriage of burden drawn by one beast, 10 cents; if drawn by two beasts, 16 cents; and if by more and not exceeding four beasts, 20 cents; and for each additional beast, 4 cents; for each horse, ass or mule without a rider, and for neat cattle, 4 cents each; for sheep or swine, 1 cent each; and one person and no more shall be all0wed to each team to pass free of toll. But in favor of inhabitants of Springfield or West Springfield some modifications were made.
The second toll-bridge was opened to travel October 1, 1816. It's cost was $22,000. This is also said to be the "child of a lottery." It was partly carried away in 1818, and was restored in 1820, and it is the bridge now standing. It was made a free bridge in 1872. The North-end bridge was built in 1878, costing $170,904; the South-end bridge in 1879, costing $116,188. In March, 1672, a ferry was authorized on the Connecticut below Agawam river, and the charges were 8d. for horse and man; 2d. for foot Passenger; 3d. for troopers training days. A ferry was maintained at this place down to the time of opening the South-end bridge. The fact of the existence of a ferry a short distance above the present railroad bridge at some time is a fact preserved in the name Ferry street.
The Springfield fire department traces its origin to the earliest years of the town's history, when the founders of the plantation ordered among themselves to keep a stout leathern bucket for use in case of fire. At the public expense a number of hooks and ladders were made and stored in some place known to every man in the town. A little later a two-wheeled cart was provided to carry the ladders, and on each corner of the primitive truck was hung a leather bucket ready for instant use. This equipment comprised the fire-fighting apparatus for more than the first century of the town's history, while the personnel of the department included every man who could pass a bucket along the line without spilling the water. The town brook supplied water, and was supplemented by small reservoirs here and there. A small fire engine called the Lion was purchased about 1792. In 1794 a fire club was organized to man the engine, and each member was required to keep in his house two fire bags with which to move goods from burning houses, and two buckets to be used in carrying water. At first the Lion was supplied with five feet of hose, but under Foreman Elijah Blake twenty-five feet more were added.
In 1824, largely through the efforts of George Dwight, a new side-brake engine, the Tiger, was purchased almost wholly by subscription. About this time there was purchased a Button machine called Eagle No. 1, and a Waterman called Eagle No. 2. There was also a machine called the Old Ocean. The Indian Orchard and Sixteen Acres people secured an engine and named it the Torrent. In 1826 the town appointed a committee to purchase a first-class suction engine with one hundred feet of hose. In 1827 it was voted to build an engine house.
In 1830 the Legislature passed an "act to establish a fire department in the town of Springfield." In 1831, Elijah Blake was appointed chief engineer. The fire department was reorganized in 1833. In 1845 the Springfield fire district was established. The officers were Cicero Simmons, chief engineer; Lucius Harthan, first assistant; James M. Thompson, second assistant, and Samuel S. Day, third assistant engineers. Under the provisions of the amendatory act in 1853 the city council adopted an ordinance establishing a fire department, to consist of a chief engineer and eight other engineers, and as many enginemen, hydrantmen and hook and laddermen, to be divided into companies, as the number of engines and other fire apparatus should from time to time require.
In 1862 the city purchased a steam fire engine. In 1867 the working force of the department comprised three steamers, each with a hose carriage and a company of twenty-five men, one independent hose company of thirty-five men, and one hand engine and hose carriage at Indian Orchard. From time to time, keeping even pace with the growth of the city, the fire department has been increased in working force and efficiency as occassion has required; and liberal expenditures have been made in favor of this branch of government. An aerial ladder was added to the equipment of the fire department in 1888 immediately after the fire in the offices and composing room of the Daily Union.
In 1893 the affairs of this department were placed in charge of a commission, under whose management the department has been eminently successful. The present equipment for fighting, and the discipline and morale of the force inspire a feeling of security to the citizens of Springfield. One of the first notable fires to occur in Springfield was the burning of the Armory buildings in 1824. On October 13, 1844, a disastrous fire occurred at the corner of Main and Sanford streets, resulting in the destruction of five buildings and eight stores. In the afternoon of May 30th, 1875, fire started in the planing mill of H. M. Conkey & Company in Taylor street, and extended to Main and Worthington streets, Bond place, Wight avenue, Vernon street, and Water street, burning fifty buildings of which thirty were dwellings, at a total loss of $596,300.
A fire in the building occupied by the Springfield Daily Union, corner of Main and Worthington streets, on March 7, 1888, spread so rapidly that many persons in the upper stories of the building were cut off from escape. Some of them jumped from the windows and were fatally injured, and others perished in the building.
The city hall took fire about noon of January 6, 1905, and was rapidly consumed.
Prior to 1843, the principal reliance for water for domestic purposes was on wells and springs; and for fire purposes the Town brook and the river were relied upon with the addition of storage cisterns. In the summer of 1843, Charles Stearns, an energetic and public-spirited man, suggested the propriety of establishing a system of waterworks; but failing to induce others to take hold of the enterprise with him, he decided to enter single-handedly upon the undertaking of constructing a general water system for the business section of the town. In August, 1843, he began the work of laying wooden main pipes from Van Horn reservoir to the Western railroad depot and down Main street to Bliss street, supplying dwellings, hotels and other buildings. This system remained in successful operation until 1848, when the Springfield aqueduct company was incorporated; Charles Stearns, Festus Stebbins, George Hastings and their associates and successors being named as the incorporators "for the purpose of supplying the village of Springfield with pure water." This company maintained a water system until about 1860, when the question of the water supply began to be agitated anew, which resulted in the city taking upon itself the burden of water supply for the public. At first a system of wells was started on the hill, but was soon abandoned. In 1872, action was taken which resulted in the building of the Ludlow reservoir. This afforded an abundant supply; but the quality has not proved satisfactory.
When Hampden county was created in 1812, it became necessary to provide a suitable building in Springfield, the county seat, in which to hold the courts. The old court house built in 1722-23 was unsuitable for the new county. Naturally differences of opinion arose as to the best spot upon which to erect the new county building, and after due consideration of the question, Meeting House square was decided upon, and the building was erected in 1821 at a cost of $8,375. It is now owned and occupied by the Odd Fellows. In size and style it was like those built for Berkshire and Hampshire counties. it answered its purpose very satisfactorily until the necessity for more room demanded a change.
The erection of the present - third - court house was authorized by the legislature in 1871, and it was finished and ready for use in 1874. The duty to see to this work was with the county commissioners, none of whom were lawyers or had any practical experience or any definite idea of the proper construction of a court house, or of those things essential to its convenient use. Those whose business best qualified them to suggest points of practical importance either were not consulted, or their opinions, if expressed, were ignored. The building was not what it should have been, though costing the sum of $304,543, including land, building and furnishings, and few years have passed since its occupation in which the county has not expended large sums of money in necessary alterations. A plan is now on foot for additional structures to meet the growing need of the county.
The late city hall was built in 1854 and dedicated January 1, 1855, and it answered the purpose for which it was designed fairly well. It housed the several departments of the city government, including at one time the police court room, and it housed the police department with lock-up accomodations. The school committee also had rooms in the building. Its ample audience room proved defective in acoustic qualities; but after several years of experimenting it was greatly improved in that respect. Its destruction by fire revealed the fact that it was a fire trap. Prior to its construction the most available assembly hall in Springfield was Hampden hall, occupying the second story of a building that stood on the present site of the Springfield Five Cents savings bank and the block immediately north of it.
The old town hall building, still standing on the corner of State and Market streets, was used for the city's business block until the dedication of the city hall in 1855. In that building the police court held its sittings.
The old high school building stood on the site of the present police headquarters, and at the time of its devotion to that use was regarded as one of the most pretentious structures of its kind in the county. Its occupation for the high school extended from 1849 to 1874, when the first regularly-known high school building was constructed on State street. But as the city grew in population it proved insufficient to meet the requirements of the school, and in 1898 the present beautiful high school building was erected on land purchased of the county. The city library building on State street was completed in 1871 by the City Library association, incorporated in 1864. The art building, near the city library, was completed in 1895, and the science building was built in 1898.
The first jail in Springfield was built about 1662, and was located on the "road on the brow of the hill," now called Maple street. It was burned by the Indians, October 16, 1675, and was replaced in 1677. A log jail once stood in the rear of the Old Gaol tavern, that stood partly on the site of the Union house. In 1813, the county purchased one and one-half acres of land on State street for $500 (now occupied by the new high school building), upon which a jail and a house of correction was erected at a cost of $14,164. This was used as a jail and house of correction until 1887, when it was abandoned for the building now used as a jail and house of correction on York street, the cost of which was $266,953.94.
The Massachusetts Mutual life insurance company, incorporated May 15, 1851, with a guarantee capital of $100,000, had its office in No. 8 Foot's block, corner of Main and State streets. The greatest risk on a single life was limited to $5,000. The officers were Caleb Rice, president; E. D. Beach, vice-president; Francis B. Bacon, secretary; Harvey Danks, general agent: Alfred Lambert, M.D., medical examiner; J. M. Smith, M.D., consulting physician. In 1856, the capital and surplus of this company was but $126,233.85.
In 1851 the Hampden Mutual fire insurance company had its office in the second story of Foot's block, adjoining that of the Mutual life. Hon. John Mills was president; Hon. William B. Calhoun, vice-president; George W. Rice, secretary; William W. Lee, treasurer. This company was crushed by the Portland fire.
At this time the Springfield Institution for Savings occupied rooms on the second floor of Foot's block. The Hampden savings bank was incorporated and organized in 1852. The Springfield Five Cents savings bank was chartered and organized in 1854. The Mutual fire assurance company of Springfield was chartered and organized in 1827, and its place of business was in the Chicopee Bank building.
The Springfield Fire and Marine insurance company was incorporated in 1849. It occupied rooms at first in the City hotel building. In 1858 it occupied the building that it had erected on the sit of the old Pynchon fort. Now it occupies its magnificent building on State street.
Hampden park was officially opened in October, 1857, with ceremonies in which the civic, military and fire organizations took part.
Gas was introduced for lighting purposes in 1849, and electric light in 1887. Electricity as motive power for street cars was applied in 1890.
The first telephone appeared in 1879, following a demonstration here of his discovery by Professor Bell.
For several years after the incorporation of the city, the general business transacted, such as stores, etc., persistently remained on Main street, and for the most part between the railroad and State street. The condition of the streets was not good during the early years of the city. Main street was often very muddy through its entire length, as were most of the streets branching from it in either direction. The proper surfacing of it was a puzzling problem for many years. An experiment was made somewhat early by block paving Main street from the railroad to Hampden street; but not being properly done it proved a failure and was abandoned. The principal material used on the street for several years was gravel. But the condition has gradually improved down to the present time.
Touching the buildings located on Main street, the Massasoit house and the Goodrich block have not been materially changed since the fifties. Immediately below Hampden street on the west side of Main was a row of wooden buildings consisting in part of an ell detached from the Massasoit house and converted into small stores. Then came the Fort block, so called, on the site where the post-office stands. On the lower corner of Worthington street was the two-story residence of Doctor Chaffee. Further down was the old North church, and below that, on the corner of Main and Bridge streets, was the somewhat pretentious mansion of Mrs. L. Trask, standing a little above the level of the street and surrounded by a substantial iron fence. On the lower corner of Bridge and Main streets was a substantial two-story dwelling, the residence of the Bond family. From this point down were several dwellings with ample yards and gardens down as far as Vernon street. The lot occupied now by the Haynes house and by the Forbes & Wallace block, was partly an open lot below the Barnes block now owned by Forbes & Wallace. Often in the fifties people would make a short cut across the open lot on their way to the court house.
On the east side of Main street, from the railroad down, were some brick blocks of a type not wholly extinct. Between Worthington and Bridge streets were some old frame buildings in a somewhat tumble-down condition, and used for some kinds of business - one of them being used for a tin and stove shop; and shortly above this building a daguerreian gallery on wheels was pushed in with the rear end to the street, and an active and probably successful business was carried on in it for several years. There were some buildings of like value and character on the Barnes lot at the junction of Main and Bridge streets. Barnes' lot was sometimes used as a pasture, extending from Main to Chestnut street, and was the usual place for firemen's musters, ball playing, and for circuses. This lot was thus open for several years after the incorporation of the city. Why did not the city buy the entire lot?
Early in the of the town the strip of land lying between Main and Chestnut streets was a swamp. Whenever State street has been dug up between Main street and the foot of the hill, the logs used in constructing corduroy have been found at considerable depth below the present level of the street. East of Main street below Park street, B. K. Bliss & Haven maintained with great success a greenhouse, garden and nursery.
At the corner of Main and York streets stood a stone monument dressed into shape and lettered and marked to show the height of the water at that point at the time of the great flood of May 1, 1854.
In 1775, Moses Church was appointed postmaster in Springfield, and he established the office in a one-story building at the corner of Main and Court streets on ground now occupied by the Five Cents savings bank building, where he carried on the hat and fur business. The average rate of postage for letters is said to have been fifteen cents, but the writer remembers when letter postage was as high as twenty-five cents, and when it had dropped to ten cents, to five cents, to three cents and to two cents. In 1792 Ezra W. Weld was appointed postmaster and he moved the office to the Hampshire Chronical establishment, of which he had charge, in a two-story building at the corner of Main and Elm streets, where the Chicopee bank building now stands. He was succeeded by James R. Hutchins in 1793, and the office was moved to the corner of Main and Sanford streets, in a building where he conducted as editor the Federal Spy. In the following year Hutchins was succeeded by John W. Hooker. James Byers, Jr., was appointed postmaster January 1, 1800; and the office was moved to a building on the east side of Main street, a short distance north of State. Daniel Lombard was appointed postmaster July 29, 1806, and moved the office to the corner of Main and Elm streets. In 1829, Lombard was succeeded by Albert Morgan, and the office was moved to the corner of State and Market streets, where it remained until 1834, when it was moved to the Elm street stores now owned by Newrie D. Winter, where it remained for thirty years under six successive postmasters. In 1842 Col. Solomon Warriner succeeded Morgan, and he in turn was succeeded in 1843 by Col. Harvey Chapin, who after a short service was succeeded by Galen Ames. In 1845, under the administration of President Polk, Colonel Chapin was again appointed and served until 1849, when he gave place to William Stowe. Abijah Chapin was made postmaster in 1853, but was removed in 1861 when Mr. Stowe was reappointed under Lincoln's administration.
In 1866 the post-office was moved from Elm street to the Haynes hotel. Mr. Stowe dying in December, 1871, Gen. Horace C. Lee was appointed in January, 1872, and during his administration the office was moved to the Five Cents savings bank building. In 1884 Edwin P. Chapin became postmaster, and on his resignation Col. John L. Rice was appointed, and the office was shortly afterwards moved to the Gilmore block, where it remained until the completion of the present post-office building in 1891. Col. Henry M. Phillips was appointed postmaster in 1890, and served until succeeded by John H. Clune in 1894. The present postmaster, Louis C. Hyde, was appointed in June, 1898.
The present post-office building was finished in 1891. The land on which it stands was purchased of the Cadwell heirs for $70,000, by citizens of Springfield who wished the building placed in that part of the city, and they sold it to the government for $18,500. A sharp rivalry existed between those favoring the present location, and people favoring a location near the corner of Main and State streets. It was felt by many that the government was niggardly in its appropriation, throwing the principal burden of purchasing a lot for the new building upon the citizens.
About this time, as the result of strenuous efforts, Springfield was made a port of entry, and the custom house is housed in the post-office building. As a natural outcome of this, there has been maintained to the present time persistent efforts to secure a re-opening of the river to navigation, but no crowning result has appeared. The government, however, treats it as a public highway subject to its jurisdiction in the matter of collecting license fees, but it utterly fails to keep the highway in suitable repair, allowing private interests to override the right of the public to reasonably uninterrupted use of the river.
The quarter-millenial celebration, May 25 and 26, 1886, was memorable in many ways. A committee of fifty of the leading citizens planned the work, and all the outlying towns that were formerly part of the old Springfield had special committees.
The observance began with special services at all the churches on Sunday, the 25th, that at the historic First Congregational church being properly the most notable. The chapel was later in the week in charge of the loan exhibition committee, who had gathered there a wonderful collection of relics and heirlooms.
An immense throng gathered at the city hall on Tuesday. Ex-Mayor William L. Smith, chairman of the citizens' committee, made preliminary remarks, introducing Judge Marcus P. Knowlton, the acting president of the day. The speakers who followed were Mayor Edwin D. Metcalf, Governor George D. Robinson, of Chicopee, Hon. John L. Houston of Enfield, and Judge Henry Morris. The anniversary ode was read by its author, Judge William S. Shurtleff, and the anniversary hymn, written by E. Porter Dyer, was sung by the Orpheus club, who performed other music during the exercises.
At the banquet to distinguished guests, which was given at the Massasoit house in the evening, the speakers included District Attorney George M. Stearns, Governor Robinson, Ex-Mayor William H. Haile, Hon. A. E. Pillsbury, president of the state senate, Samuel Bowles, editor of the Republican, Dr. Thomas A. Pynchon of Hartford, Mayor O'Connor of Holyoke, David A. Wells, General H. C. Dwight of Hartford, United States Senator Dawes, Railroad Commissioner Kinsley, Rev. John Cuckson of Springfield and Rev. John Harding of Longmeadow.
The second and final day of the celebration, Wednesday, opened with a concert by 2000 children in Court square. The big event of the day, the procession, started at 1 o'clock and was a most ambitious affair. In addition to the military, civic and society organizations of the city, and visiting military and other bodies, there were floats and costumed characters representing different periods in Springfield's history. The day closed with band concerts in Court square, and a grand ball at the old city hall, now passed away with other landmarks.
The city's golden jubilee began on Sunday, May 25, 1902, the anniversary day of incorporation, with special services in the churches, and at the Court square theatre in the evening there were notable addresses by Dr. Talcott Williams of Philadelphia, Congressman Frederick H. Gillet, Mayor Ralph W. Ellis, Lawyer E. H. Lathrop and Lawyer C. W. Bosworth.
Court square was made the "court of honor," and was a memorable spectacle, the scheme of decoration being snow-white pillars at intervals along the edge of the park, surmounted by flags and hung from one to another with festoons of evergreens and electric lights. When lighted up at night it was a scene of beauty not to be forgotten.
The anniversary was chiefly marked by the completion of the fund of $100,000 for the extension of Court square to the river, the impulse being a $10,000 bequest from the late Tilly Haynes for that purpose, conditional upon the necessary sum being raised. Thus the thing that Tilly Haynes, George R. Townsley, N. A. Leonard, Samuel Bowles and other leading citizens talked of in their day was brought to a realization. No record of this enthusiastic rolling up in a few weeks of $90,000, to which sum the half-dollar contributor was as welcome as the man who gave a thousand, should pass without mention of George Dwight Pratt, who was the most active force in inspiring the subscriptions, though it was also first in the heart and endeavor of Theodore L. Haynes and Everett H. Barney.
Monday, May 26, was given over to the parades, through brilliantly-decorated streets, of the military and the civic bodies, societies and trade unions in which every organization in the city - French-Canadians, Italians, and all - took part. Band concerts and fireworks rounded out the day. The chairman of the day was the late Elisha Morgan, a direct descendant of the Miles Morgan, whose effigy on Court square silently witnessed the 250th anniversary of his early struggles. To Mr. Morgan's keen artistic sense and administrative ability was due much to the good taste of the decorations and the successful carrying out of the program. Mayor Ralph W. Ellis was vice-chairman and Elijah A. Newell, the city clerk and a civil war veteran was secretary. The sub-committees represented the best of the executive ability of the city.
Springfield in the Wars
Springfield is naturally a peaceful community; but when there was fighting to be done, there were always to be found men of Springfield. During the French and Indian wars, from 1744 to 1760, in which New England bore so prominent a part, Springfield lost many citizens who went as soldiers and were killed.
The local Indians were friendly until 1675, when, possibly because the knives and hatchets and hoes for which they had bartered their birthright had worn out, they became restive, and the memorable King Philip war broke out. For many a weary month an occupation that had to be reckoned in the day's duties was detaching Indian arrows from the person. The alertness of the settlers, led by Major John Pynchon, averted a massacre, but the town was burned by the Indians, October 16, 1675. Arrows with burning brands and fireballs were thrown on the roofs of the houses and barns and forts, and little but the fort was saved.
In the Revolutionary war, Springfield was a recruiting post and a depot for recruiting stores. Works for repairing arms were carried on, which led to the establishment of the national armory. The Boston alarm of September, 1774, set men drilling and marching in Springfield as elsewhere in New England. In April of the following year the news of the battle of Lexington got to the Connecticut river settlements with wonderful promptness. Companies of men from Suffield, Longmeadow and West Springfield gathered in Springfield and with the Springfield men pressed to the front. From all accounts the streets and taverns were in an uproar of excitement. Many enlistments of Springfield men are recorded in this and succeeding years. They scattered among various regiments. The news of the Declaration of Independence aroused the village to intense enthusiasm, and it is a legend that one farmer who was coming from West Springfield with a load of hay, when he heard the news touched a light to the hay and celebrated right on the spot.
During the summer and autumn of 1780 there were gathered forty-two divisions of six-months' men who marched to the points where they were required as fast as they were ready for service. So Springfield at no time lacked intimate knowledge of the fray.
Springfield had a little war of its own in 1786-87 when the locally famous Shays rebellion disturbed the equanimity of this and neighboring towns. The incitement to this uprising was the drastic action of the courts against delinquent debtors, and lawyers and judges were the objects of fierce denunciation. Hard times evidently followed the war of independence, for in the term of the court of common pleas in February, 1786, no less than three hundred and thirty-three cases of unhappy debtors were called up, and judgement obtained. The foreclosure of mortgages was an every-day event. Daniel Shays and Luke Day took radical steps in September, 1786, by interfering with the session of the Supreme Judicial court. Troops had been gathered under General Shepard, but they avoided a collision with the forces of Shays, which marched and counter-marched before the court house. The court adjourned without action against any of Shays' men and the October term of court at Great Barrington was abandoned.
In January, 1787, Shays made a bold attempt to capture the federal arsenal in Springfield. He made a dash from Rutland with nearly 1,200 men, armed with guns, camping at Wilbraham. The women and children of that frightened town were transferred to Longmeadow for safety. The plan was to overpower General Shepard before Eastern troops, two days' march away, could get to his rescue. Other insurgents were camped at Chicopee and West Springfield, making nearly two thousand men who were to oppose General Shepard's one thousand.
The Shays forces met the militia on the Boston road, within view of the Armory, the afternoon of January 25. Shays' arrangement with the other rebels had miscarried and they had not joined him. The first shots of the troops scattered the insurgents, and they fled in confusion, not even returning fire. Three men were killed and one wounded, and the war was ended. There were plenty of mutterings and some small disturbances afterward, but peace came at length.
In the second unpleasantness with England, beginning in 1812, Springfield was not eager for any more fighting, but when a British fleet was discovered off the New England coast in August, 1814, and there was a call for troops, Gen. Jacob Bliss started east with a militia brigade. They did not, however, participate in any engagement.
The war spirit in Springfield from 1861 to '65 was, if anything, more active than in other cities. This being the headquarters of the supply of arms, the people felt the pulse of war palpably. Companies for several regiments were raised here, and the tenth, twenty-seventh and forty-sixth Massachusetts volunteers were encamped here before going to the seat of war. The Springfield City guard formed one of the companies.
Judge Chapman called to order the first war rally in April, 1861. The city government voted $30,000 for volunteers. The destruction of the Harper's Ferry armory left the Springfield arsenal the main resource of the government for a time.
These Springfield men officered companies in the Tenth Massachusetts regiment: Captain, Hosea C. Lombard; 1st lieutenant, Hiram A. Keith; 2d lieutenant, George W. Bigelow, all of the Springfield City guard; Captains Joseph K. Newell, Homer G. Gilmore, Frederick Barton, Edwin L. Knight, and George W. Bigelow; 1st lieutenant and adjutant, Oliver Edwards; chaplain, Rev. Frederick A. Barton.
In the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts: Colonel, Horace C. Lee; surgeon, George A. Otis; Captains, Walter G. Bartholomew, Gustavus A. Fuller and Horace K. Cooley; 1st lieutenants Edward K. Wilcox, Peter S. Bailey, George Warner and John W. Trafton; 2d lieutenants, W. Chapman Hunt, Ira B. Sampson and William A. White. Captain Bartholomew became lieutenant-colonel and E. K. Wilcox captain. He was killed at Cold Harbor and is memorialized in the E. K. Wilcox post of the Grand Army.
The Forty-sixth Massachusetts had a Springfield man, Colonel Walker, in command of the camp, and Company A was an all-Springfield organization with Samuel B. Spooner as captain, Lewis A. Tifft 1st lieutenant, and D. J. Marsh 2d lieutenant. William S. Shurtleff also became lieutenant-colonel, after enlisting as a private. He became colonel in 1863.
The Thirty-seventh Massachusetts regiment, organized at Pittsfield, had many Springfield men and officers, and there were several companies in other regiments partly manned and officered by sons of Springfield. The city's death list in the war numbered 167.
The war with Spain in 1898 is vivid in memory, because our three companies of Massachusetts volunteer militia were among the first to be called to Cuba. The day they marched to the depot the streets were packed with people, but there was very little cheering. There were too many there whose memories of the previous war were yet painful, and the younger folk were oppressed with the solemnity of the sight when men they knew were marching to battle. Companies B, G and K were in action at El Caney, when Santiago was taken, and Springfield gave of its youth, from death on the field, from wounds and disease, twenty-one, while half a score more have since died from the effects of the hardships and fevers of that campaign. Of these was Captain Henry McDonald, city marshal of Springfield.
Among the tenderest memories of the late Henry S. Lee is the untiring zeal with which he looked after the welfare of the Springfield boys in this war, solacing the families of those who perished, and personally seeing that those who came home invalided had the best of care and treatment.
The official roster of the second regiment and Springfield companies was as follows:
Field Staff and Non-Commissioned Staff: Colonel, Embury P. Clark; major, Frederick G. Southmayd; adjutant, 1st lieutenant, Paul R. Hawkins; quartermaster, 1st lieut., Edward E. Sawtell; major and surgeon, Henry C. Bowen; major and surgeon, Ernest A. Gates.
B Company - Captain, Henry McDonald; 1st lieutenant, William J. Young; 2d lieutenants, Harry J. Vesper and Thomas F. Burke.
G Company - Captain, John J. Leonard; 1st lieutenant, William C. Hayes; 2d lieutenant, Edward J. Leyden.
K Company - Captain, William S. Warriner; 1st lieutenant, Philip C. Powers; 2d lieutenant, Harry H. Parkhurst.
H Company, Naval Brigade, were called to duty, and were assigned chiefly to the auxiliary cruiser Prairie, but were not in serious action. The officers were assigned as follows: Lieut. Jenness K. Dexter, U. S. S. Russell; Lieut. Henry S. Crossman, U. S. S. Prairie; Lieut. William O. Cohn, U. S. S. Lehigh.
General Lawton camp, Spanish war veterans, was organized to keep alive the brotherhood of our last war.
The United States Armory
No history of Springfield is complete without a story of the Armory, which has been an important factor in the city's life and progress. It is recorded that when George Washington passed through Springfield in October, 1789, he saw and approved of the present site of the Armory. Congress passed an act establishing it in April, 1794, and buildings were soon after erected on the Hill and on Mill river, the latter department still retaining its old name. "the Watershops."
The manufacture of small arms began in 1795 with a force of forty hands, and a production of 245 muskets the first year, and for over one hundred years it has been carried on without interruption, except when the main buildings of the Armory were burned in 1824.
No less than a score of different models of muskets have been made in that time. The first guns were the French model, and the King's and Queen's arms, English models. The former had a small calibre, short barrel and light stock, and, for those days, was a handsome gun. The King's and Queen's arms were heavy, long-barreled, large-bore guns, and favorites with the Indians, one of whom, according to legend, expressed his preference for "big gun, big noise, big bullet." The first American model was made, with flint lock, in 1822 and improved in 1840. In 1842 the flint lock was abandoned and the percussion lock adopted, and a proud historian states in the Springfield Directory of 1848 that it was "confidently believed that the arms made at this armory since the adoption of the percussion lock are not equaled by any other establishment in the world." The new model was used in the Mexican war.
A model usually bore the name of the year in which it was adopted. The 1855, or Maynard primer model, was used effectively by the regular army in frontier engagements with the Indians. Of this model, when the great war of the North and South began, only about 40,000 had been made, many of which had been already distributed to the army, so that until the 1862 model could be made and put in the field, the Union volunteers had to take what guns could be got - Enfields, Austrians, Belgians, flint-locks, rifles, fowling pieces; anything, indeed, in the shape of a gun.
A large increase in the Armory force and the addition of new buildings followed the outbreak of the war. In 1864 there were 3,400 men employed and 1,000 guns a day turned out. At the time Fort Sumter was fired on, 1,000 guns a month were made, but the production was steadily increased till the same quantity was finished every twenty-four hours, the works running day and night. Daily shipments of 1,000 guns were sent to quartermasters in different parts of the country. The payroll at this time amounted to over $200,000 a month, and the foundations of the home of many a thrifty Springfield mechanic was laid in those years of trouble.
In 1873 the breech-loader model was perfected, and many improvements were added in the next twenty years. The Krag-Jorgensen gun was adopted in 1892, and this model was modified in 1898 from experience gained by its use in the Spanish war. The later model has been generally supplied to the regular troops and the militia, but in the case of the "regulars" this is being replaced by the 1903 model, or United States magazine rifle, a gun that will shoot farther and more frequently than any yet produced. A new sight and a new model of bayonet made for fighting service, are recent features.
The present output of guns is about three hundred a day, some 1,400 men, working eight hours, being employed. The monthly payroll in recent years runs from $75,000 to $130,000.
Before the civil war there were four arsenals that were used solely for the storage of small arms and their appendages. In 1860, under Capt. George Dwight, the middle arsenal was converted into a workshop, and later in the war, when guns were shipped as fast as produced, the east and west arsenals were used as work shops. The main arsenal was built in 1846 under the superintendency of Colonel Ripley, and has a storage capacity of about 300,000 guns, 100,000 on each floor. The total storage room of all the arsenals packed to repletion is 1,000,000 stands of arms. It was of this that Longfellow wrote, to quote again from his much-quoted poem:
This is the arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
When the death-angel touches those swift keys;
What loud lament and dismal miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
The visitor to the Armory enters the grounds at the southern corner, passing the uniformed guard at the gatehouse, and ascending a short hill reaches the plateau where most of the buildings are situated. Keeping to the right he passes the officers' quarters, the barracks, the guard house, the middle arsenal and the east arsenal, all on the southeast side of Union square. Northerly is the long building occupied by the ordnance storekeeper, the general offices, the milling department, etc. Along the north side of the square, fronting Federal street, are the machine, stocking, filling, polishing, carpenter and paint shops. Across Federal street, looking east, is the experimental department.
The arsenal and tower, and some of the other buildings, are open to the public during working hours, the condition being a pass, procured at the office. The tower commands a superb view of the city and vicinity, and it is one of the points of interest that strangers in Springfield rarely fail to visit.
Col. F. H. Phipps, colonel ordnance department, is the present commanding officer. There are four assistant officers, and the post has a garrison of sixty men.
The city is growing in population, in beauty and in building, as never before in its history. To show the increase in ratio of population it is only necessary to refer to census figures for the past century. In 1810 the population of Springfield was 1,267; in 1820 it was 3,914; in 1830 they counted 6,784; in 1837 there were revealed 9,234; in 1843, 10,985; in 1850, 11,330; in 1852, 12, 498; in 1860, 15,200; in 1870, 26,703; in 1885, 37,575; in 1895, 51,512; in 1900, 62,059, and the census of 1905 showed a population of 73,484, a growth in the past five years of 2,285 a year. A continuance of this ratio of growth will make it a city of 100,000 in ten years more.
The buildings now in process of completion and the buildings planned for immediate erection form an unusual development in Springfield's growth. Most important of these are the Fire and Marine insurance company's handsome new home at the corner of State and Maple streets, which is to be followed by a new office building for the Massachusetts Mutual life insurance at the corner of State and Main streets, the present site of the Foot block; the Springfield Institution for Savings is to have a new home on Elm street; the county of Hampden will build a hall of records adjoining the court house, the Odd Fellows are to have a temple on Pynchon street, a large assembly hall is in prospect, and a new city hall, of architecture in keeping with the dignity of the city, is in the immediate future; likewise a new building for the City library, toward which Andrew Carnegie has given $150,000.
Springfield's development in business and manufacturing lines is constant. The post-office ranks next to Boston's among the Massachusetts cities in the percentage of net receipts, and in gross receipts it leads all other cities and towns of New England. The gross receipts in 1904 were $294, 724.
Five lines of railroad fetch and carry freight and passengers to and from Springfield, and the volume of business grows steadily. The street railway carried nearly 19,000,000 passengers over its ninety-four miles of track in 1904, and yet there were some that couldn't get seats.
Evidences of the city's material prosperity are found in the one thousand manufacturing concerns, engaging $20,000,000 of capital, paying out $8,000,000 yearly in wages and salaries, using material amounting to $12,000,000 and producing goods to the value of $30,000,000. Among these products, those most famous, in fact known all over the world, are Webster's dictionary, the Smith & Wesson revolver, the Barney & Berry skate, the Wason car, and the United States army rifle.
The total assessed property of the city is about $80,000,000; the property exempt, used for school, county and government purposes, is about $4,000,000.
The deposits of the eight national banks and two trust companies amounted in a recent statement to nearly $17,000,000, showing an increase of ten per cent in the past ten years. The surplus in the same ran to nearly $900,000.
The following editorial, a remarkable prophecy of Springfield's development, and as true in other respects today as it was half a century ago, appeared in the Republican January 27, 1853:
Those who have seen other valleys and lived in other lands can only appreciate the surpassing beauty and loveliness of the Connecticut valley, its desirableness as a home, its advantages for acquiring competence and wealth and the profusion of intellectual and moral privileges which it enjoys. This thought occurs to us, always when we hear a young man expressing his discontent with the "slow East" and his wish to mingle in the gigantic enterprises of the Western States or to unite with the sturdy pioneers who are founding a mighty empire on the Pacific Coast. No land in the world is more productive, or can be made more productive than the bottom lands of the Connecticut. No valley is more abundant in its natural facilities for mechanical and manufacturing enterprises. Holyoke alone has water power enough, if employed, to support 100,000 persons, while Thompsonville, Chicopee, Indian Orchard, South Hadley, Mittineague, Jencksville, Leeds Village, Haydenville,Greenfield and numerous other points have water power enough to form the nuclei of cities. These are scattered through the valley, every rod of which can be transformed into a garden for the supply of the wants of a dense population. The hills that roll up on either side afford pasturage for cattle, and the products of the stall and the dairy alike have even now but to be taken to the manufacturing points we have indicated to be changed into gold.
But we are told that the growth of the population and the development of the natural resources of the valley are slow. Pray, how old is the valley in settlement and enterprise? Go back only 20 years - where were Cabotville, Mitteneague, Indian Orchard, Greenfield and the host of other points now alive with busy manufacturing life? Go back 30 years - where were Chicopee Falls, Haydenville, Thompsonville and the rest? It strikes us that the growth has been fast and that it promises with the accumulating strength of capital and experience to be faster still. New branches of manufacture have been struck out and fortunes have been made and are still making. Look at the improvements that have been made for the transportation of manufactures, merchandise and passengers. Eighty years ago nothing but the slow coach and the still slower sailboat were engaged in the transportation of merchandise and passengers up and down the river. Now a splendid railroad runs almost literally by every man's door from Springfield to the fountain spring of the river, within a day's walk from the Canadian line. Has this been slow stretching? Nay, are not other roads already planned to run out into by-places among the hills and along the valleys of tumbling streams?
Thus much for the physical advantages and developments of the valley, but to the mind that regards life in its higher objects and relations there are other and higher advantages which in comparison with those enjoyed by newer localities leave us far above them. Where else in the broad earth can be found a more beautiful stream than the Connecticut, a more beautiful valley than its waters or a more beautiful background to rise up and meet the sky? Where can we find more beautiful homes? Above all, where have education, religion, refinement, taste and all the elements of an elevated civilization been more prospered than here? There is a church on every hill, a schoolhouse in every valley, a lyceum in every neighborhood, a newspaper in every house, while colleges and seminaries and academies can be seen from each other's spires.
It is to these things that those who wished to go faster and who in order to accomplish their wishes, went to new countries always look back with regretful eye. The elevated and educated society, the sound of the "church-going bell" in the clear Sabbath mornings, the lecture room, the convenient schoolhouse - all these things come before the mind of the emigrant as he stands by the side of his cavern in the woods with his uneducated children around him. Privileges like those enjoyed here are often sold for countless gold. They weave the very crown of life and endow the poorest among us with riches far above the price of rubies. We believe that the Connecticut Valley is destined to a full development of its immense physical resources while we prize altogether beyond these material advantages the moral, social, educational, political and religious privileges enjoyed here by all. The habits of life engendered by the prevailing spirits of our institutions and growing out of the very fact that no man looks for sudden wealth, contribute most essentially to happiness, manliness and true worldly prosperity.
---Judge A. M. Copeland and Edwin Dwight