Sunday, September 30, 2007

Photo: September Morn'

Morning in Western Massachusetts - September 30, 2007

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'Springfield Present and Prospective, Art and Literature' (Pond & Campbell 1905)

Here is the final segment of the section, 'Springfield on the Side of Letters,' of the chapter, 'Art and Literature,' from the book 'Springfield Present and Prospective,' published in 1905 by Pond & Campbell publishers. Charles Goodrich Whiting is the segment's author.

Title/contents page

Art and Literature (previous segment)

Art and Literature (cont.)

Among the authors native to Springfield especially noteworthy was the late David Ames Wells, grandson of Col. David Ames, whose fame as political economist, statistician and sociologist is more than national. He was both born and bred here, and never lost touch with his birthplace. His son, David Dwight Wells, was born in Norwich, Ct.; his untimely death cut short a career as novelist of unusual promise. Also born in the town, and still resident here, is an author of rare and beautiful gifts, both literary and spiritual. George Spring Merriam, in his "Life and Times of Samuel Bowles," produced one of the few absolutely truthful of personal biographies, linked to the story of the nation. His distinctive writings have chiefly concerned the life of the soul, from the volume entitled "A Living Faith," through that finer treatise, "The Way of Life," the chronicle of "William and Lucy Smith" (honoring the author of "Thorndale" as he deserved), the personal memoir of Mrs. Briggs and the choice anthology entitled "A Symphony of the Spirit." To these he has lately added "The Story of Slavery in America" - an admirable survey of the striking moral advance of the nation to the ending of human chattelry, wrought with optimistic view of the future.

There have been many clever writers of fiction, of whom note must be made of Adeline Trafton (Mrs. Samuel Knox), who wrote here "His Inheritance," "Katherine Earle," and other novels and records; and of Mrs. Katharine B. Foot, whose excellent short stories, "Tilda," "Marcia's Fortunes," "An Orphan in Japan," and others are to be published in a volume. Edward Bellamy, son of Rufus K. Bellamy, a noted minister of Chicopee Falls, here wrote, besides many exquisite short stories in the school of Hawthorne, that extraordinary book, "Looking Backward," which gave so great an impetus to the gospel of socialism by its Utopia, the Boston of the year 2000. His brother, Charles J. Bellamy, is the author of certain interesting novels and other books, "The Breton Mills," "A Man of Business" and "The Return of the Fairies."

Poetry of genuine quality has not been lacking in the contributions to the newspapers and magazines, here and elsewhere, from Springfield citizens, but to begin to name the writers of these, or of sketches and tales, would be a rash essay. If there be mention made of Aella Greene, Christopher C. Merritt and Mrs. Frances H. Cooke, that will have to be the end.

Much worthy historical writing has been done, by George Bliss, the first and second; by Judge Oliver B. Morris and Judge Henry Morris his son; by Col. John L. Rice and Judge Alfred M. Copeland, and by Judge William Steele Shurtleff. Colonel Shurtleff indeed had a marked literary bent and taste, and wrote much verse of refined and fluent grace, while he personally encouraged the life of letters and arts. Several veterans of the civil war have written regimental histories of value, among them James L. Bowen, W. P. Derby and J. K. Newell. Mason A. Green wrote a history of Springfield in connection with the 250th anniversary in 1886, and Charles A. Nichols published it. Mr. Green's study of the early history of the town, and into the first part of the 19th century, is valuable and full of attractive quality. But to simply name the books that have been produced in Springfield - well worthy of comment as well as mention - would require more than our limit of space.

One of the interesting and individual figures of our local life for years has been Eugene C. Gardner, whose essay on Springfield as it is and may be begins this book. He was one of the first to make literature out of house-building, and with that, of housekeeping. The fresh, vigorous and cordial impact of his early books on these subjects, treated at once from the architect's and the householder's standpoint, is not forgotten. And ever since he began with the chronicles of "John" - in fact, of "Jack and Jill," - he has been writing delightful critiques on everything pertaining to Springfield. His books are numerous; they include "Homes and How to Make Them," "Illustrated Homes," "Home Interiors," "The House that Jill Built," "Town and Country Schoolhouses," "Common Sense in Church Building." Mr. Gardner is a satirist and a humorist, with a poetic feeling.

Among writers of consequence in Springfield is Franklin H. Giddings of the Berkshire family, professor of sociology at Columbia university since 1894, and before that at Bryn Mawr college, whither he went out of Springfield journalism. His books are well known, and his position among economic thinkers is notable for a scholarly socialism. He has written many books, and his "Principles of Sociology," published in New York in 1896, has been translated into many languages, including the Japanese.

Bradley Gilman, for some years minister of the Church of the Unity, begun here as author, and wrote seven or eight volumes, some for children, but the principal ones - "The Parsonage Porch," "Back to the Soil" (a new Utopia), and "Ronald Carnaquay: a Commercial Clergyman," for the larger audience. A predecessor, in fact, the original Unitarian minister in the town, Rev. W. B. O. Peabody, a beautiful soul, wrote many hymns, among them, "Behold, the Western Evening Light." To him also was due the cemetery where he is buried and which ought to bear his name. Washington Gladden, when pastor of the North church in this city, wrote several of his books, but not his important ones, - nevertheless, he belongs in the affection of the people to Springfield. James F. Merriam has written many charming articles of literary criticism and appreciation that deserve remembrance. Lately Gerald Stanley Lee, also a preacher, has turned author, and by his clever, fantastic and witful genius has drawn attention. Miss Mary Louise Dunbar has written graphic and happy sketches of European experience. Mary Catherine Lee has produced excellent fiction in a richly sympathetic rendering of characteristic life. Miss Maude Gillette Phillips years ago made an excellent manual of English literature, and has since written much for reviews and otherwise. Charles Clark Munn, author of "Pocket Island," "Uncle Terry" and other stories, has touched the "Old Homestead" vein of rustic wit and pathos successfully, and has won a public of his own. But it is impossible to complete with perfect justice the list of literary work done in the city and its neighborhood in these later years.

It should be mentioned that among the books drawn from the files of the Republican, which would in themselves necessitate pages of titles, is to be noted "Mexico of Today," by Solomon Bulkley Griffin, - the result of travel in that country in 1885. It should also be said that Charles Goodrich Whiting's two books of Nature and the Spirit, "The Saunterer" and "Walks in New England," are made up chiefly from the editorial and literary columns of the Republican. In the later years many remarkable contributions have been made to true literature by such contributors as the north of Ireland singer, Moses Teggart; and the noble poet, Stuart Sterne, whose name in common life was Bertrude Bloede. And in the line of scientific philosophy there are seldom to be found so remarkable and masterly writings as those of Dr. Chester T. Stockwell, "The Evolution of Immortality" and "New Methods of Thought." These are leading the way to spiritual examination and ideal of eternal spiritual life. There is no nobler utterance in this direction to be found in American or English literature.

Springfield has had its literary periodicals, and among them there are three which for one cause or another require especial mention. The first of these was Sunday Afternoon, begun by Rev. Washington Gladden, when he was pastor of the North church, and continued by Edward F. Merriam. It was an original scheme of sociologic thought which animated it, and much of the high quality in the furtherance of elevated ideals was embodied in its editorial conduct and its contributions. Conceptions of service to humanity then freshly broached had voice in Sunday Afternoon; Mrs. Clara T. Leonard gave to it some of the most important of her too few writings, and indeed the table of contents, were it to be reprinted, would show that there was not a little opportunity afforded for the literary life of this city, if there were such, to exhibit itself.

The brief career of Sunday Afternoon found no following until Will Bradley came here, a really brilliant designer of strange grotesqueries, akin in one way to that abnormal creature, Aubrey Beardsley, who became a London favorite, but unlike Beardsley merely grotesque, not vile. Bradley had good magazine ideas, and while "Will Bradley: His Book," in its brief existence, failed of success, it produced a real sensation. Its literary features, under the editorial charge of Julia D. Whiting, possessed originality and a high intellectual poise, but life was not in it.

The present magazine, Good Housekeeping, has passed through vicissitudes; Clark W. Bryan made it interesting for a while; others assumed its management; but now, published by the Phelps company, and edited by James E. Tower, with his fine literary taste, it is an excellent magazine of the household.

Among the remarkable men who have distinguished the Springfield Republican should be mentioned two who possess in common an incisive and trenchant personal power of expression on all topics which they touched, - the late William S. Robinson, "Warrington," who chose that pen name from the friend of "Pendennis" in Thackeray's novel, - a strenuous character; and Frank B. Sanborn, Boston literary and political correspondent for many years, - a radical of the radicals, a man who, in Hosea Biglow's words, "ain't afeard." He has given salt and spice to life by his commentary on affairs, while his great scholarly equipment has constantly enriched the criticism of that journal for over thirty years.

Charles Goodrich Whiting

Next installment: 'City Library Association.'

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Postcards: The Old Toll Bridge, Springfield, Massachusetts

The third time is indeed a charm when one considers that the grand and magnificent Hampden County Memorial Bridge is the third span built to link the city of Springfield with the town of West Springfield in the approximate location it was laid down in the early 1920s. Prior to that, two very divergent structures served the purpose of transit over the steady waters of the Connecticut river. The first lasted but nine years from its opening on October 30, 1805, collapsing under a heavy load of military material and razed in 1814. The second bridge, pictured in the two postcards below, saw a century pass before its replacement, coming into service on October 1, 1816.

This postcard bears a postmark of October 1, 1906, the 90th birthday of "Damon's bridge," known as such after its builder, Isaac Damon, of Northampton, Mass. Could the sender have known the date's significance?

Damon's bridge wasn't without its early problems. The Spring waters of the swollen Connecticut river damaged the span in 1818, resulting in the necessity of a partial rebuild. The two early bridges were toll bridges, the operations of which were awarded by lottery. The collection of tolls stopped in 1872, although apparently the designation by locals didn't, as evidenced by the two captions referring to the "Old Toll" bridge above.

Like everything else, the cost of crossing the bridge as an alternative to swimming or sailing across the river fluctuated with time's passage. The book Springfield Present and Prospective (Pond & Campbell, 1905), gives us a fine snapshot of what staying dry would set you back in 1808:
"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."
I suppose I shouldn't be giving Springfield's Financial Control Board any ideas. 'Tis best to keep quiet and travel without impediment or fee in our phaetons and curricles across the great river that waters our valley. It's a bit cold for swimming.

Special thanks to Barbara Shaffer, a faithful friend of history, who donated these postcards (and many more) to EWM to share with you. Her generosity is deeply appreciated.

For more on the Hampden County Memorial Bridge, check out the earlier EWM post Postcards: Hampden County Memorial Bridge.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Photos: The Westfield River's East Branch

These images were captured in the early morning, while the Knightville Dam watershed in Huntington, Massachusetts, was still shrouded in fog. There is a stillness in fog that brings out the reverence in some folks. A life force of mist and mystery. The danger of being.

For more photographs of the East Branch and Knightville Dam check out EWM post, Photographs: Knightville Dam and the Westfield River's East Branch.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Surfin' the Western Mass. Web

Here's a collection of local web sites folks might find interesting. From history to sports, the arts to the outdoors, you'll find plenty to peruse surfin' the Western Mass. web!

(Updated: October 5, 2010)

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The Arts

Early American Paintings: Chester Harding

"During his almost fifty-year career, which began in the frontier towns of Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio and peaked in Boston in the 1830s, Chester Harding painted more than a thousand portraits." --From the Worcester Art Museum web site.

Marlene Rye

"Travel in your mind back to a time as a child when you were in the “wilderness”: backyard, vacant lot, roadside, field, or forest. Remember how the world looked as you crawled through the grass, each individual blade becoming a towering tree, rocks transformed into mountains. Visualize looking through the brambles and thickets of your backyard and feeling the enormity of that space juxtaposed with the closeness of the surrounding branches. See a field, feel the openness of the air and the closeness of the warm ground beneath, expanding and contracting the space at the same time. These sensations are at the heart of my work." --Marlene Rye

"One of the Primitive Sort": Chester Harding Becomes an Artist in the Early 19th-Century Countryside

"Chester Harding, born in Conway, Massachusetts, survived by working in a variety of country crafts as he related in his 1866 autobiography My Egotistigraphy." --From the History Matters web site.

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Western Massachusetts Blogs (On-site link)

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Commerce & Industry

A Millers Falls Home Page

"This page serves as the directory to an encyclopedic study of the Millers Falls Company for the years in which it was located in Massachusetts." --From the Millers Falls Home Page web site.

Peerless Handcuff Company

"Peerless® Handcuff Company was established in 1914 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Over eighty years later, the classic swing through design of the original Peerless® handcuff, continues to be the industry standard." --From the Peerless web site.

Shop Western Mass
P.O. Box 303
Turners Falls, Massachusetts 01376
(413) 863-7752

"Welcome to Shop Western Mass, the first online store dedicated solely to products from Western Massachusetts!" --From the Shop Western Mass web site.

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New England Historic Genealogical Society

"Founded in 1845, New England Historic Genealogical Society is the oldest and most respected nonprofit genealogical organization in the country." --From the NEHGS web site.

Western Massachusetts History & Genealogy

"Over the years—in conducting my own family research—I have collected interesting books and ephemera of a historical nature." --From the WMH&G web site.

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Massachusetts Historical Society

"For more than two centuries the MHS has been collecting and preserving materials relating to the history of our commonwealth and our nation. The holdings of the MHS encompass millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history." --From the MHS web site.

Massachusetts Poorhouse History

"To provide a clearinghouse for information about 19th century American Poorhouses for ... history buffs, genealogists, teachers/students, and others with a similar interest."--From the Poorhouse Story web site.

Mt. Holyoke Historical Timelines

"The Mt. Holyoke Range is located in the Connecticut River valley of western Massachusetts. It is the home of the Prospect House, the original section of which was built in 1851 with several additions thereafter. Battered by the Great Depression and the Hurricane of 1938, the property was donated to the state. Today the renovated Summit House is the showpiece of Skinner State Park. I created the first version of this historical timeline when I was webmaster for the Friends Of the Mt. Holyoke Range. It is still a work in progress with much more material to add. Please send suggestions, corrections or material to Robb Strycharz." --From the Mt. Holyoke Historical Timelines web site.

The New England Anomaly

"The Journal of Unusual Folklore, History and Lifestyle in the American Northeast." --From the NE Anomaly web site.

Our Plural History: Springfield, MA

"Our personal history of people places and events makes each of us unique, but our plural history weaves a multifaceted fabric that is more beautiful than its individual threads. Explore Springfield's multicultural past and discover a new sense of place." --From the OPH web site.

Pioneer Valley History Network

"Celebrating local history in western Massachusetts." --From the PVHN web site.

Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704

"In the pre-dawn hours of February 29, 1704, a force of about 300 French and Native allies launched a daring raid on the English settlement of Deerfield, Massachusetts, situated in the Pocumtuck homeland. 112 Deerfield men, women, and children were captured and taken on a 300-mile forced march to Canada in harsh winter conditions." --From the Raid on Deerfield web site. A Virtual Historical Society for the City of Springfield, MA

"We will present stories about Springfield's history, advocate for historical preservation, and provide a place for users to contribute their own knowledge of Springfield's past." --From the Springfield-History web site.

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Trails, Rails and Roads: Maps (On-site link)

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Old Man Scanlon's

Genealogy, whales, trains and more!

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Museums of Western Massachusetts (On-site link)

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The Connecticut River Homepage

"A World Wide Web Site Containing Information About the Biology, History, and Geology of New England's Largest River." --Professor Ed Klekowski

National Wild & Scenic Westfield River

"From its origins in the Berkshire Hills in Western Massachusetts, the Westfield River links together historic villages, prime farmlands, pristine wilderness areas, and waterfalls and gorges of remarkable quality. In recognition of these “outstandingly remarkable” resources, over 78 miles of the Westfield River’s headwater tributaries and three major branches are designated as a National Wild & Scenic River." --From the WRWS web site.

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Local News Sources (On-site link)

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Photographs & Postcards

Classical High School, Springfield, Massachusetts

The Standard Electric Time Collectors' Photo Gallery

Hampden County Postcards

"These postcards are from Springfield, Massachusetts, most were published in the early 1900's and are considered to be in the public domain." --From the HCP page.

The Houses of Springfield, Massachusetts

"Welcome to the Houses Of Springfield website. My name is Ralph Slate and I am a Springfield resident who enjoys the older architecture of the city. I've been collecting old photos of Springfield houses and thought it might be a good idea to make them available for others to see." --From the Houses web site.


"We created this site to collect, display and preserve historical images from cities, towns and places in Western Massachusetts (Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties)." --From the IM web site.

Joe's Wilbraham Photo History Page

"Here you will find possibly the largest on-line gallery of Wilbraham (Massachusetts, USA) photos that exists today." --Joe Roberts

Lisa's Postcard Page

"Welcome to my postcard page. I have tried to provide information useful to collectors whether they are old or new." --Lisa

(Note: Not a local site, but chock-full of valuable information on postcard history. Trying to fix a date to a postcard? Visit Lisa's...)

Mornings on Maple Street

"A collection of articles, stories, photographs, the Lewis Hine Project, and much more by Joe Manning" --From the Maple Street web site.

The Notch and Other Nearby Places

"I have fond Mountain Day memories of the Notch, a pass on Route 116. I've also included some views from Mount Holyoke (the mountain), and some other nearby views that didn't seem to fit in anywhere else." --From the N&ONP web site.

Old Photos of Springfield, MA

"My photo collection and some old postcards of others." --From the Old Photos web site.

Old Postcards of Jacob's Ladder Trail

"Vintage Postcards of Jacob's Ladder Trail, Route 20, Berkshire , Hampden and Hampshire Counties, Massachusetts ; Includes Postcards of Becket, Chester, Huntington, Lee, Russell ,Westfield and Woronoco, Massachusetts." --From the Old Postcards web site.

Postcards at EWM (On-site link)

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Westfield Wheelmen Vintage Base Ball Club

"Our mission is to educate, entertain, preserve, and promote the game of base ball as it was played during its formative years in the city of Westfield during the 19th century." --From the Wheelmen web site.

William "Adonis" Terry - The Forgotten Legend of 19th Century Baseball

"Born in Westfield Massachusetts William Terry, nicknamed "Adonis," spent thirteen full seasons playing in the major leagues, had an amazing career, worthy of Hall of Fame recognition but he has been sadly overlooked. This site is dedicated to his memory." --From the William Terry web site.

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Cinema Treasures: The Paramount

"Built in 1926, at a cost of over $1 million the Paramount Theater was the most ornate theater in Western Massachusetts in its glory days as a picture palace." --From the Cinema Treasures web site.

Historic Buildings of Massachusetts

"This blog will feature historic buildings from throughout Massachusetts, although right now the focus is on Boston, Cambridge and Salem." --From the HBM web site.

The Hoosac Tunnel, Florida - North Adams, Massachusetts

"This website strives to be the most robust source of Hoosac Tunnel information on the Internet...On this website you will find old pictures, new pictures, historical information, and maps!" --From the web site.

Roads and Highways of the Pioneer Valley and Western Massachusetts

"This page specializes in routes and roads of Westfield, Springfield, Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee, Northampton, Agawam, and soon Williamstown, Greenfield, and other hilltowns like Blandford, Otis, Beckett, et cetera, with history and photos." --From the Roads and Highways web site.

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Towns & Cities

Choose Springfield, Massachusetts

"Springfield, MA is known as "The City of Homes" because of its abundance of historic and contemporary housing." --From the Choose Springfield web site.

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To suggest a web site for listing on this page, please leave a comment or contact:

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Useful Hints from the 1910 Old Farmer's Almanac

The Old Farmer's Almanac has been a staple in many Western Massachusetts homes ever since West Boylston resident, Robert B. Thomas, started publishing the guide amidst fierce competition in 1792. Full of useful and important facts and information, including weather predictions that have an uncanny history of being so accurate that many folks plan events or tasks by them, the Almanac has come a long way in its 215 years. Competition has grown even more intense in that time, especially with the advent of the World Wide Web and the age of information overload, but the Almanac keeps plugging away, sharing helpful hints on everyday matters and preparing us for the deluge or the sunshine that will greet us tomorrow.

Some advice can certainly be passed through the ages as evidenced on page 56 in the copy of a 1910 Old Farmer's Almanac I found at a yard sale. Who could argue with the timeless wisdom that states "In running freshly laundered curtains on the rods put a thimble on the end of the rod and it will slip through more easily?" Some of the time-saving tidbits may be a bit dated, though. "A silk petticoat hung upside down in the closet, from hangers sewed inside the bottom ruffle, will retain its freshness much longer; the ruffle will stand out and the skirt will wear better," might be a good example of that, but who knows? After all, everything old becomes new again.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care - and remember: "Soak raisins in cold water before stoning."

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Friday, September 7, 2007

New England Newts

Newts are friendly little creatures.

It's not easy being orange in an earth-tone world.

When you hit a wall...climb it.

Don't you hate the way sand gets everywhere after you hit the beach?

Complements to the chef!

Piling on.

Mmm...yummy 'shroom. How is it that Man's nature has turned so wasteful when Nature herself wastes nothing?

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