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RECORDS AND REMINISCENCES OF AN
OLD NEW ENGLAND PARISH FOR
A PERIOD OF TWO HUNDRED
CLARA SKEELE PALMER
''^ '■ '^ ? / (r '^
■L . . I ■• ■
SPRINGPIBLD PRINTING AND BINDING COMPANYi
THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF
THE OLD FIFTH PARISH
OF TWO HUNDRED YEARS
ANNALS OF CHICOPEE STREET
THE first settlers in Chicopee were Japhet and
Henry Chapin, and their brother-in-law, Rowland
Thomas. Japhet and Henry were sons of Dea. Sam-
uel Chapin, one of the early settlers of Springfield.
Rowland Thomas had married his daughter, Sarah.
Dea. Samuel was an intelligent, energetic Christian
man, and we soon find him influential and prominent
in the affairs of the town and the Province, as well as
in the church. His social position is shown by the
edifying record, that in the Meeting House, —
** Goodwife Chapin is to sit in the seate along with
Mrs. Glover, and Mrs. Hollyocke.**
There is one tradition that Dea. Chapin was of Welsh
origin, and another that he was of Huguenot family.
Some color is given to the latter tradition by the
name of his wife. Cicely, a name found in early French
An old writer has said, **God sifted three king-
doms, that He might plant the finest of the wheat in
New England.** From whatever clime or province
these sturdy ancestors of ours came, their history
shows that they were in truth of **the finest of the
As the early records are imperfect, it is difficult to
determine the exact date of the first settlement in
Chicopee; but a host of well-preserved family tra-
ditions bear witness to the evidence of grants and
deeds, that by 1675 Japhet and Henry were living
in homes of their own. Japhet's house was on the
bank of the Connecticut River, in Chicopee Street, on
land now (1898) owned by Mr. Charles E. Baker, and
northwest of his house. The cellar hole of Japhet*s
house and the old road leading to it remained until
within a few years. Henry*s house was near the west
end of what is now Exchange street in Chicopee
Center. Rowland Thomas lived near Henry.
The first grant of land in Chicopee was in 1659: —
**One farme Given to Mr. John Pyncheon, Lying
over Chicuppy river, with the Islands of s^ River, below
the plaice called the wading plaice with the Medow on
the South side, also a Swamp betwixt the Medow
and the River; this farme is by us bounded viz., to
run up the Grate River, Northward to the Brook
called Willomansett, so up the brook to a foot parth
yt goes to Squannungunick and to follow the parth
that goes to Squannungunick to the mouth of Chick-
The first mention of a road is in 1665 : —
''Nathanell Ely and Rowland Thomas, Committee.
'* A Highway Over Chickuppy River, should Goe
above the Islands, about 20 Rods, whair the Indian
Common Wading Plaice is, or still higher on this side of
the River. It is to goe near Rowland Thomasses.**
In 1662 Mr. Pyncheon deeded a part of his farm
to Samuel Chapin. Later we find grants of land
from John Pyncheon to Japhet Chapin, one of two
hundred acres, one of twelve, and one of fifteen, all
lying ** north of Chickuppy River, and east of Con-
necticutt River,** and all bordering on land which
Japhet already owned. This makes probable the
accepted tradition that Dea. Samuel had some time
before deeded his land to Japhet.
Henry seems to have bought his land directly from
Mr. Pyncheon. In 1659, we find him bargaining for
200 acres **on ye north side of Chickuppy River,
half of ye upper Island, and five acres of mowable
meadow.** For this he is to pay ** twenty pounds in
wheat at current prices at four several payments,**
five pounds each year for four years. Although he
lived on the south side, he owned land on both sides
of Chicopee River. Some of this land remains in the
families of his descendants to-day.
Mr. Theodore L. Chapin of Chicopee Street seems
to be the only one now living on land directly inherited
from his ancestor, Henry; but Edward and Charles
Chapin, and probably Mrs. Naomi Chapin Ward, on
the Granby road, own land which came to them from
the same ancestor through five generations. Hun-
dreds of our broad and beautiful acres have never
passed out of the Chapin name, though they may
not have come to their present owners by direct
Sons and daughters were born to these brothers,
and in a few years there were eighty-seven grand-
children. Other settlers came to join them. Before
1 700 we find the names — Cooley, Crowfoot, Hitchcock,
Wright, and Terry. John Crowfoot died young.
Samuel Terry, who had married Sarah, a grand-
daughter of Japhet Chapin, went to Canada. Among
the settlers at Skipmuck, we find the names of
Phineas Stedman, John Stedman, Stephen and Gad
Horton, and Ariel Cooley. Caleb Wright built
a house on the north side of the river, but lived there
only a short time, coming then to Chicopee Street.
The original deeds and grants were afterwards
ratified by the town, probably to avoid dispute.
Sometimes it was done in town meeting, sometimes
by the selectmen, and sometimes by a committee
especially chosen for this purpose.
This land had been fairly bought of the Indians.
Probably they received for it much more than it was
worth to them, for we do not find that they ever
complained of the price paid. At first the Indians
were friendly, and the relations between the white
men and their Indian neighbors were not uncomfort'
able. But King Philip's war changed all this. Spring-
field was burned, and the towns on the frontier, Had-
ley, Deerfield, and Northfield, were in a state of con-
Hannah, daughter of Japhet Chapin, was married
in 1703 to John Sheldon of Deerfield. When she
was preparing her wedding outfit, her mother was
careful that she should have a dress suitable to wear
into captivity. Think of the heroism of a young
woman going as a bride to her new home, in the almost
certainty of captivity or death ! The dress was made.
It was of flannel, probably spun and woven by her
own hands. Three months after her marriage,
Deerfield was attacked in the night. In jumping
from a window, Hannah sprained her ankle, and
was unable to escape or to secure her dress. But
a few days afterwards, she saw it on an Indian
woman. With other prisoners she was taken to
Canada, their footsteps staining the snow with blood,
as they went. By the energy of her father-in-law she
was soon redeemed, and brought to Chicopee to her
father's home, from whence she returned to her
Deerfield home. She was probably ransomed by the
payment of twenty pounds, which seems to have been
the price put by the French on their English women
Greylock, the famous Indian chief for whom the
mountain in Berkshire was named, was often in this
vicinity. He had but one foot, having lost the other
in a trap, so that his trail was easily detected, but he
was never captured. His object seems to have been
not so much scalps as prisoners, whom he sold in
A little girl in her trundle bed was roused one
night from sleep by some one creeping from the win-
dow across the bed. Too frightened to move, and
knowing that her safety depended upon perfect quiet,
she watched him while he helped himself to food from
the cupboard. He left the house as stealthily as he
came. It might have passed for the dream of a
frightened child, but the empty cupboard confirmed
the tale. The thief was Greylock, who was too hungry
to be dangerous.
Skipmuck was attacked by the Indians. Some of
the settlers were killed, and one or more taken captive.
Aaron Parsons and Berijah Hubbard, two soldiers,
had just finished cleaning their guns. They were
saying, **Now we are ready for the dogs,** when a
young girl, who was spinning by the window, ex-
claimed, **They have come!" She ran, and in her
haste and fright drew the latchstring from the door,
shutting in the family. Lieut. Wright, who was at
work in a shop near by, crept through a window and
with this daughter escaped. The soldiers and one
child were killed. One child, left for dead, revived
and lived to grow up. Mrs. Wright was taken
prisoner. The child was rescued by an aunt from
Chicopee Street, Mrs. Thomas Chapin, who was a
sister of Lieut. Wright.
The front door of the house built by David
Chapin about 1705 was thickly studded with nails to
prevent the Indians from splitting it open with their
tomahawks. This house stood under the big elms on
land now (1898) owned by Mr. Rowley, and was still
standing in 1834. Samuel Chapin was fired upon and
wounded while crossing the Connecticut River, re-
turning from his work on the west side. But no
serious loss or injury seems to have come to any of
the other settlers in Chicopee Street.
During these early years, we find Japhet and
Henry Chapin leaders in public affairs. Japhet's
name appears as selectman, assessor, and juror.
Henry served on various committees and was deputy to
* 'the Publick Assembly ** at Boston. His integrity
is shown in this, that while four pounds was allowed
by the town to their deputies, he refused to take more
than 34 shillings, insisting that this was all it had cost
him. In 1687 Henry Chapin was one of those to
whom was given the privilege to fish in Chicopee River,
as far as **Schonungonunck fal or Bar.** Japhet
Chapin, Nathaniel Foote, Henry Chapin, John
Hitchcock, and others, were authorized to build a
sawmill at Schonungonunck Falls. In 1694 **Iron
Works and a Blacksmiths* shop in Skipmuck ** are
mentioned, and also *'a Corne Mill." Previous to
this all the sawing and grinding had been done at the
mills in Springfield. But with all the difficulty of
drawing lumber so far, log houses were not common
here as in many new countries. The dwellings were
frame houses, many of them of two stories. Some
were built with two stories in front, and one in the
rear, with what was called a **linter*' (lean-to) roof.
It has been said that after the burning of Spring-
field, the people here thought seriously of leaving, but
the records do not show this. Other names appear,
showing that settlers did not fear to come even in
these troublous times. In 1683 Henry Chapin deeds
land to Riley on the west side of the river. It
is said that Riley was an Irishman, and with other
settlers who came to that vicinity, gave the name of
Ireland Parish to that part of the town. Before this,
it seems to have been known as **The Upper Wig-
wames,** showing that an Indian settlement was near.
In 1 7 12 the County Road was laid out from
Hadley to the lower end of Enfield, and ** it is advised
that it go by Mr. Japhet Chapin's Barn ; that it be
three Rods wide from Willimansepp Brook Down
Chickuppee Plain, to Mr. Japhet Chapin's Barn, then
Four Rods wide, then south cross Chickuppee River,
then westerly to Mr. Henry Chapin*s and southerly
Four Rods wide.** This followed what is now known
as **the Old Road** to Willimansett and McKinstry
Avenue. A road was also laid out *'on the West
side of the Greate River."
These county roadways were gradually taken
under the care of the town, and in all grants of land,
especial mention was made, '*not to hinder or preju-
dice the highways.**
The first mention of a school in Chicopee is in
I7I3> when the munificent sum of ten shillings is paid
by the town to * * Daniel Cooley*s daughter for keeping
school.** There had been schools in Springfield, since
1 64 1, but it was impossible for the smaller children
and inconvenient for the older ones to go so far.
We find Province laws and town laws regulating
the schools. **A11 children are to be taught to reade,
and learn a catechism.** ** Children and servants**
are to be sent to school. **A11 children from five to
ten years of age to be sent to school, and if not, their
parents shall pay to be rated (taxed) for all such
children to the School Master.** In 17 14 a grant of
12 pounds was made by the town, **To the farmers
of Chickopee and Skipmuck towards the schooling of
their children for the year ensuing.** The next year,
**The Upper Chickopee, The Lower Chickopee and
Skipmuck** were ** allowed Precincts for three years,**
and a grant was given to each for a school. But in
1 72 1 they were united in one Precinct. About this
time the first schoolhouse in Chicopee was built on
Chicopee Street on land owned by David Chapin. It
was a one-story building, unpainted, with a huge fire-
place, and stood until **The Old Red Schoolhouse **
was built in 1761. Every parent was required to
furnish one load of wood, * * to be brought to the school-
house in October,** and **no scholar shall have any
benefit of the wood until they bring their proportion."
Some have questioned if **all children** included
girls as well as boys ; but the traditions of our grand-
mothers and great grandmothers tell us of their going
to school with their brothers, certainly in the town of
Springfield, if not in Boston.
The first grant of money to Ireland Parish for
schools was in 1731. The first schoolhouse built
there by the town was in 1772. The next year it
was ** voted, to build a schoolhouse in that part of
the town where Aaron Ashley lives.** The first
schoolhouse built by the town in Lower Chicopee
was erected in 1773. The first schoolmaster is said to
have been a Mr. Shevay, an Irishman, and a minister
who occasionally preached to the people on the south
side of the river.
Much has been said of the hardship and poverty
of those early days. Hardship there was, and plenty
of it, but it was cheerfully accepted as a part of the
experience of a new country. Of poverty, in the
sense of suffering for the necessities of life, there was
little ; for we must remember, that many things which
are necessities to us were unknown to our grand-
parents. Game and wild fowl abounded in the
woods. The rivers were full of fish. Salmon were
sold, ''at the river for 6d. ; in the village for 8d. ;
shad J^d. at the river; id. in the village.** A few
years later, Erastus Morgan and five other men caught
in one night 6000 Shad and 90 Salmon. Every
householder was required to keep at least three sheep.
These and their fields of flax supplied them with cloth-
ing and bedding.
We even read of a dressmaker in those early days.
She did not send to Paris for her fashions, but they
might have been brought from London, since new
colonists from the mother country were continually
coming to the Connecticut Valley. Every young
girl was taught to spin, and the stronger ones learned
and practiced weaving, both plain and fancy, accord-
ing to their skill and taste. It is true, that some of
their table furnishings were of wood, and others of
pewter, but the wood was scoured to a beautiful
whiteness, and the pewter might have been silver for
Mrs. Thomas Chapin, a matron of those very
early days, said that she had two sons who were too
rich to be comfortable, Abel and Japhet; one,
Thomas, who was just about right as regarded prop-
erty; and one, Shem, who was too poor. This Mrs.
Thomas was a very generous woman, and when
reproved by some of her family for giving away
eggs, replied, **The more I giveaway, the better my
hens will lay.**
Abel, whom she called too rich, was afterwards
known as Landlord Abel. He built the first house in
Willimansett, on what is known as the Briggs lot,
east of the railroad station. About 1730 he removed
to Chicopee Street, and built the house now owned
by Josiah A. Parker, and known as the ** Uncle
Moses place.** It is the oldest house now standing in
the city of Chicopee, with the possible exception of
the Snow House in Johnny Cake Hollow, the age of
which is not definitely known. Landlord Abel's
house was at first of three stories ; that is, with a
gambrel roof. Here he kept a tavern for many years.
A few pages of his account book have been preserved.
They are interesting as showing the habits and cus-
toms of the day. The entries are principally of what
was sold at the Bar. ** Rhum and Cyder,** ** bowls
of Punch and mugs of Flip,** with occasional items
of **Shugar, Seed-corne, Salt, and Molasses, lodging,
meals and horse-keeping.** The **Bill for the Com-
mittee, sent by the Gen*l Court to lay out the Bounds
of the Parish,** is, —
£ s d
to three horses, oates and hay, 0-15-0
to three bowls of punch, 0-15-0
to three meals of victuals
for the Com. at five shillings per meal, 0-15-0
to one mess of oates and two
bowls of punch, o-io-o
The inventory of Landlord Abel's estate comprises,
** Five hundred acres of Land, Five Houses and
Barns, Horses, Cows, Sheep, and Hogs, Hay, Grain,
Farming tools, Six hives of Bees, Household furnish-
ings, including Iron, Pewter & Brass ware, with
some China and Glass.** There are ** Thirty-six
Linen Sheets, Sixteen Blankets, Eleven Woolen
Sheets, Six Table Cloths, Twenty-one Towels.**
We find in his wardrobe, —
2 Great Cotes, a Black Velvet Vest,
I Strait Body Cote, i pare Velvet Britches,
I pare Lether Britches, 9 pare hose,
I pare Shues, 4 fine shirts,
4 pare pumps, 6 common shirts,
i: Hat, Shoe Buckles.
His library was, —
One greate Bible, One Large Bible,
One old Bible, Law Book,
Barnard's works, wats Psalms & himes,
Robinson Crusoe, Mather on Congregational principles,
One Cubbord partly of books,
Sundry old Books Bound & Sundry Pamphlets.
He had one Negro Man.
These are only a very few of the articles mentioned
in an inventory of over six hundred items. His
personal ^property was valued at about 400 pounds ;
his real estate, at nearly 1300 pounds. The rich
brother remembered the poorer one, for among the
items is the valuation of a small farm given by life
lease to ** Shem Chapin & his wife.**
Benjamin Chapin settled his own estate during his
lifetime, with the exception of his personal property.
He gave his wife a jointure or marriage settlement at
the time of their marriage. He gave his land to his
sons, as they **came of age'* and married. By will he
gives to his sons, **all my Husbandry Tools, and
implements of what sort or kind soever.'* **To Ben-
jamin, My Gun, my Sword, my belt, my Great Bible,
and my province Law Book.** All the rest of his
movable and personal estate he gives to his daughters.
His books were, —
Mr. Vinson on the sudden appearance of Christ to Judgment,
A Pious soul thirsting after Christ,
Doct. Watts sermons on various subjects,
Doct. Mather's Meditations on Death,
Doct. Increase Mather, on the Lx>rd's Supper,
Confession of Faith, Josephus* History,
One great Bible, One Law Book,
3 old Pamphlets, Six old Books.
John Chapin, Jr., a bachelor, who died in 1747,
had a large estate: ** Houses and lands** in Chicopee
and Brimfield, ** cows, Oxen, Steares & heffers,**
** Horses & Hogs, Saddles & Bridles,** money & notes,
**ingen corn, Wheat & Righ & skins,** and a Negro
man named Pompey. He had coats and jackets of
** Camlet, serge, and Broadcloth.** He had **Some
shirts, some more shirts, & some fine shirts/' He
had **Shoe Ruckles, nee Buckles, and one gold
Among the interesting records of these old days
showing the custom of the time is the following
Indenture : —
** This Indenture witnesseth, that I, John Chapin of Springfield,
in the County of hampshear, in ye province of ye Massachusetts Bay,
in New England, husbandman, have with ye free consent of my son,
Asahel Chapin, put and do, by these presents, put my son, Asahel
Chapin, an apprentice to Josiah Chapin of Springfield, in ye County
aforesaid. Blacksmith, to learn his art, trade or mystery, after the man-
ner of an apprentice to serve him from the twenty- seventh day of
September last untill he is one and twenty years of age.
All which time ye sd apprentice his master shall faithfully serve,
his secrets keep, his Lawful Commands gladly everywhere obey, he
shall do no damage to his master, nor see it done by others, without
giving notice to his master; he shall not waste his master's goodes,
nor lend them unlawfully to any, he shall not contract matrimony within
sd time; at cards, dice or any other unlawful game he shall not play,
whereby his sd master may be damaged in his own goodes, or the
goodes of others, he shall not absent himself day or night from his
master's service, without his leave, nor haunt ale houses or taverns, or
play-houses, but in all things behave himself as a faithful apprentice
ought to do during sd time.
And the sd master shall use his utmost endeavor to teach and in-
struct sd apprentice in ye mode or mystery he now followeth, viz., the
trade of blacksmithery, & to teach him to write, and ye rules of arith-
metic, so he shall be able to keep a book of accompts, & also provide
him sufficient meate & drink, washing and lodging fitting for an
apprentice during ye sd time, and to find him two suits of apparel at ye
end of ye term, ye one for Sabath and ye other for weak day, & for
y« trae performance of every one of sd covenants & agreements,
either of ye sd parties bind themselves to the other by these presents.
in witness thereof they have interchangeably put their hands and
seals this twelfth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and
thirty-eight, and in the eleventh year of our Sovereign, King Gorge
the second, of greate britian, france and ireland, King, &c.
Joseph Chapin, ) .. JOSIAH CHAPIN.
Sarah Van Horn. >^'^»^''^''
We are sure that Asahel fulfilled most faithfully
his part of the covenant, for we find him later with
the Massachusetts troops at Louisburgh, ** cheerfully
enduring the extreme hardships of the siege. For
fourteen nights they were yoked together like oxen,
dragging cannon and mortars through a morass.'*
Here Asahel died, but whether in camp or in battle,
history does not say. His cousin, Nathaniel, also
died there about the same time, 1745.
For more than sixty years, the people of Chicopee
continued their connection with the old First Church
in Springfield, finding their way on foot, or on horse-
back, fording the Chicopee River, at the Indian Wad-
ing Place, or sometimes going by canoe down the
Connecticut. The Sabbath services and the weekly
lectures were their edification and deligh^. Their
lives were regulated by its ordinances and discipline ;
and, when death came, they were laid to rest in the
old Burying Ground, at the foot of Elm street, on
the banks of the Connecticut. The names of Japhet
and Abilene, his wife, may still be seen on the old
headstones in Peabody Cemetery. They were removed
when the building of the railroad made it necessary
to discontinue the old burying place. The faith-
fulness of these people in going to meeting was won-
derful. Mr. Ezekiel Chapin said, that for twenty-six
Sabbaths in succession, he went regularly to Spring-
field to meeting.
The first allusion we find to any public religious serv-
ice, in this precinct, is in 1728, when a meeting of the
local churches is held here — either in the school-
house, or in a private house. From time to time
an occasional lecture or Thanksgiving sermon was
preached, and as the people grew stronger, money
was raised for preaching during the severe cold of the
In 1749 the precinct had 40 voters. The qualifi-
cation for voting was **40 shillings income, or Forty
Pounds Estate.** They began to think of a separate
church and minister. Settlers had come to Ireland Par-
ish who were ready to join them. They had shared the
perplexities of Mr. Breck*s trial and settlement in
Springfield, and had seen the church grow strong
under his ministrations. The Mother Church was
about to build a new Meeting House. A petition
was sent asking leave to withdraw. The petition was
dismissed. The Church in Springfield was unwilling
to lose these faithful men and women, who had con-
tributed so much to her growth and prosperity.
In the Autumn the matter was again agitated, and
the Committee of the First Parish replied in this
curious manner: —
** It's very evident by their (Chicopee's) Shewing
that their Accommodations which they have obtained
by being so far off from the Center of the Parish is
more than a Compensation for their Fateagues on the
Sabbath, for it is a very plain case that, if the rideing
on Horse Back on a Plain six miles in half a Day is
more than equall to half a Day's labour, the Petition-
ers on the whole Live with much more Ease & Less
Fateague than those who live in the Center of the
Parish; who besides the Fateague they have in
managing their business at a Distance all the week,
are obliged to build & maintain Three Large vessels
to Transport the Produce of their Lands to y® stores."
The meaning of this seems to be, that, for the
privilege of living on their own farms, and cultivating
the rich meadows near their own homes, ourChicopee
farmers could well afford to travel six or even seven
miles on the Sabbath to attend meeting. The homes
of the Springfield people were principally on what are
now Main and State streets, and their farm lands
were **at a distance," some of them across **the
But the Chicopee people were in earnest. In
1750 another petition was sent, this time to the
'* Octo"^ i: 1750 Monday: Mr. Japhet Chapin
proceeded on his journey to Boston to urge ye grant
of Chickapee's Petition/*
Petition sent to Boston in 1750 by the Inhabitants
of Chicopee: —
To the Honrble Spencer Phipps, Esq., Lieut Govr & Commder
in Chief of his Majesties Prov. of the Massachusetts Bay in New-
England. The Honrble His Majest* Council & House of Representa-
tives In Genl Court Assembled at Boston the 30th Day of May AD.
The Petition of us, the Subscribers, Inhabitants of the North Part
of Springfld in the County of Hampshire, Humbly Showeth That your
Petitioners, for the greatest part of us Dwell full six, some Eight Miles
& the nearest of us four miles from the Respective Places of Publick
Worship we now belong to. Some on the East & some on the west
Side of the Conetticutt River, & as we are now Situated 'tis utterly
Impossible for us & our families in any Suitable manner to attend the
Publick Worship of God in the assemblies we now belong to. The
Legislature has obliged us by Law to attend, but we are absolutely
obliged, as the case now stands to neglect it. We can*t, near half of
us, attend in Ordinary & not a Quarter of us in Extraordinary Sea-
sons. We have many of us dwelt under these Circumstances for 60
years past & with all our Struggles & Difficulties not had one third
part of the privileges which our fellow Parishioners have had for the Same
Sum Expended. The labour & fatigue we & the bruit Creatures we use,
undergo on the Sabbath fan* Exceeds that of any other day in the week.
Oar numbers are greatly encreased & we Esteem ourselves able to build
a House for the publick Worship & give Sufficient Encouragement to a
Minister of the Gospell to Settle Among us, & indeed we Suppose by
the best Computation we can make that it would not Cost us so much
accompting Ten years together, as it does in the Posture we are now
in, & with great Submission we Esteem it Extream hard that our fel-
low Parishoners Should make so much opposition as they do & have
done to our being a Distinct Parish when they know aU that is Said
above to be trae, only to make their Taxes a little lighter. We cannot
think our Selves justly treated by them, when they take so much pains
to keep us under Such Disadvantages in our Souls Concern only to save
themselves a little worldly interest. *Tis not long Since we paid
our proportion towards the Settlement of a Minister in the midst of
them, & we have for many years past hired Winter preaching among
ourselves while we paid our full proportion for it amongst them & we
can*t get it Reinbursed. we have likewise done our full proportion
with them in paying for a new & Magnificent Meeting House for
them (principally) to Worship in, for when it*s done we can't have the
benefit of it because we can't come at it. & we have lately requested
the Respective Parishes we belong to, to Consent we Should be Sett off
& they Refuse it; We therefore most Humbly move we may be In-
vested with Parish Powers & Privileges & that the bounds may be
as follows (viz.) beginning at the muth of Chequabee River & run on
the bank of Connetticutt River to the top of the Hill South of Samll
Terry's House. Thence East to the brook called Hog-pen-dingle &
thence by Sd Brook at Chequabee River & thence by Sd River to the
Outward Commons & thence North by sd Commons to Hadley Line
& thence West in Hadley Line to Connetticutt River & thence Cross
Connetticutt River to Northampton bounds; & thence to the West Side
of Springfield bounds in the line between Sd Towns & thence Begin-
ning by Connetticutt River at Ryley's brooks mouth & then Run a
West line from that to the West Side of the bounds of Springfield
aforesaid.* We beg leave further Humbly to Request that the old
Parish in Springfield on the East Side of the River, that still Continues
So after we are Sett off, may be obliged to pay us on the East Side of
the River what we have been taxed to the new Meeting House
lately Set up amongst them, which we Seasonably requested them
to be excused from that they might not build it too big for themselves.
We also further humbly request that those of us Petitioners that Dwell
on the East Side of Connetticutt River may be Obliged if your Honblc &
Honors Please To build the House for publick worship & Settle the
first Ordained Minister at our own cost. & that after that all of us
This " humble request ** was afterwards granted by " the old Parish in Springfield.'*
may be Enjoyned as in Common Cases to do our Eqnal Proportion
towards the Minister's Support. & with great submission we humbly
apprehend that there is not now, nor ever has been, an Instance of this
nature, where So many People at So greate a Distance from this
Publick Worship have ever been Denyed the Liberty of Setting
it up near to them, that all may attend with Convenience &
not one half or three Quarters live in Such Miserable and Uncomfort-
able Circumstances for so long & tedious a Season as we have done.
We therefore Most Humbly move we may be Sett off as aforesd &
that the Court would oblige the Inhabitants on the East Side of the
River to do as they have agreed with their neighbors, petitioning with
them, (viz.) be at the whole Cost of building the first Meeting House
& Settling the first Minister & other Petitioners to pay an Equal
proportion with them for the Minister's Support afterwards & Enjoy
Equal rights in the Meeting House, in proportion as in other Parishes,
and as in Duty bound shall ever pray &c.
PetUioners on the East Side of the River
Japhet Chapin Jun.
Benjn Chapin Jun.
Jonthn Chapin Jun.
Benj Crofoot Jun
West Side of River
John Day 2nd
Joseph Ely 3d
Ebenezer Jones Jun.
John Day 3d
Joseph Ely 2nd
Benjn Jones Jun.
The First Parish was still so unwilling to let these
people go, that for two years in succession a Com-
mittee, Josiah Dwight and Edward Pyncheon, was
sent to Boston to oppose the petition. The General
Court, however, ** listened carefully, and responded
favorably.*' They appointed a Committee, who,
having ** repaired to the Lands & heard the Parties,
& considered all things touching the same,** fixed the
bounds of what was for many years known as the
Fifth or North Parish of Springfield, ** first giving
notice to the First & Second Parishes of Springfield.**
The Second Parish was what is now the First Parish
of West Springfield. There is no record of any
objection made by them to this organization. The
bounds of the Parish were fixed as desired by the
petitioners, and included what is now (1898) known
as Chicopee Street, Willimansett, Holyoke, and a
part of Chicopee Center, then known as Lower Chic-
opee. Others, whose names do not appear on the
petition, joined the Parish soon after : Born, Azariah
& Abraham Vanhorn, Thomas Terry, and Moses
Wright. This same year Joseph Morgan settled at
the foot of Mt. Tom, in Ireland Parish, on a large
farm, which he afterwards divided among his five
sons, Joseph, Jr., Titus, Lucas, Judah, and Jesse.
He joined the Parish, and, with his three sons,
Joseph, Jr., Titus, and Lucas, was useful and promi-
nent in its affairs. The people across the river were
exempted from building the first Meeting House, and
settling the first minister, but they were to assist in
his support. This was probably for the reason, that
they hoped to be able, before many years, to have a
Meeting House and minister of their own.
No sooner were the petitioners assured of a favor-
able answer to their request, than they set to work.
On the evening of January 2d, 1751, they met and
**A11 with united voices declared for cutting timber
for a Meeting House.*' ** Dimensions 42 x 33." The
next day ** about 40 men advanced into the woods to
cut said timber. All volunteers! clear, cold and
still." Jan. 4, '* About 20 men advanced to finish
yesterday's work. The cold somewhat abated." On
the 7th a tedious storm set in, but it furnished the
snow for ** sledding the M. H. timber." A thaw
delayed the work, but in February **the timber was
got home very successfully." Spring came on early
this year: —
** Ducks, Blackbirds, Robbins, Larks, return & sing,
Cheerful salute the approach of Spring.'
Winds and storms followed the beautiful February
weather, and it was not until April that Mr. Morris
Smith began to hew the timber. This month they
made the brick. And so the work went on until
June 5, when the record is, ** This day thro ye Indul-
gence of Heaven, we have our Meeting House raised
with great safety and joy." At first the Meeting
House was covered with **Ruflf Boards," and a floor
was laid. It was used in this way until December,
1752, when it was voted **to cover the outside of
s^ Meeting House with Quarter Boards, to Glaze all
the windows, and to do the Plaistering overhead and
to finish all the lower Part." From time to time,
money was expended in different ways until it was
finished in 1765.
This old Meeting House was nearly square, with-
out bell or steeple. It stood in the middle of our
then wide street, a little north of where Mr. Rowley
now lives. The ** Quarter Boards" with which it
was covered, seem to have been ** split clapboards,
beaded where they came together. It was built of
heavy oak timbers. There was carved work over the
windows." For those days it was a good looking
building. The seats were at first benches, afterwards
changed to pews. These were square, with seats on
three sides. The partitions were high, and finished
with an open railing. The seats were on hinges, and
were raised or lowered according to convenience.
As the custom was then to stand during prayer and
to sit during singing, there was often a noisy clatter
when the prayer began. The pew on the right of the
pulpit was for the minister's family. The two in
front were set apart, one for the deacons, and one for
the elderly men. A broad aisle ran through the
center from east to west. There were two doors, one
on the east and one on the south side. The high
pulpit was on the west side, with sounding board
above it. It looked to some of the children as if the
minister were shut up in a box, with a cover ready to
fall on his head. The pulpit was painted pale green.
It had a velvet cushion, for which 3 pounds was paid.
Behind the pulpit was a window with a curtain of green
moreen. The Communion table was also painted pale
green to correspond with the pulpit. It was sus-
pended on hinges and raised or lowered at pleasure.
There was a gallery on three sides of the house, well-
filled in later years with young men and maidens, who
led the service of song. One corner was reserved as
the ** Negro's seat,** for there were slaves in those days.
In describing the Meeting House, we have antici-
pated a number of years. It was raised on the 5th
of June, 1751. On Sunday, July 2 1 , the first religious
service was held in it. The record is, **Met in our
new Meeting House." The first Parish meeting was
held **on the thirtieth Day of July.** The business
after choosing officers, was to ** provide for the work
of carrying on the Meeting House.** Ensign Benja-
min Chapin was chosen Moderator; David Chapin,
Clerk; and Japhet Chapin, Treasurer.
At this time all money for church purposes and
the support of the minister was raised by a tax upon
**the Polls and Estates of the Freeholders and other
inhabitants;** and at the second Parish meeting, on
August 12, measures were taken to levy this tax ** as
the Law directs.*' In October, they began to talk of
settling a minister; and Ensign Benjamin Chapin
and Ebenezer Jones were chosen a Committee to
apply to the Association for advice in regard to a
The Association recommended either Mr. John
McKinstry or Mr. Judah Nash. Mr. Japhet Chapin
was chosen ** to engage the Worthy Mr. John McKins-
try to Preach to us for a Quarter of a Year.** And a
tax of thirty pounds was levied to defray the expenses
for the winter. In January, Mr. McKinstry had
proved himself so able, that it was unanimously
voted to give him a call to settle. Some correspond-
ence ensued in regard to the salary. On May i8th he
signified his acceptance of the call **if the Concur-
rence, Advice & Mutual Agreement of the Neighbor-
ing Churches of Christ, and their Rev*d Pastors be
The Council called for his ordination met on June
5, 1752, with this result: —
These may certify that, after proper inquiry and examination, we
are Satisfied of Mr. McKinstry's Ministerial Qualifications, and there-
fore consent to his Settlement with you.
Wishing therefore the Blessing of God on your proceedings, we
Stephen Williams Robert Breck
Sam '11 Hopkins Noah Mirick
Peter Ra3rnolds Freegrace Leavitt
It was voted that the ordination be on the 9th of
September, but the Style was changed that year from
O. S. to N. S. There was no 9th September, and
the ordination did not take place until the 24th.
A day of fasting and prayer was appointed for
the 27th of August, ** to implore the Divine Blessing
& Assistance in our proceeding to settle the Worthy
Mr. McKinstry in the work of the Gospel Ministry."
The same ministers, with the exception of Rev.
Freegrace Leavitt, were sent for to assist in the
ordination; the neighboring churches were asked for
**the help of their Rev^ Pastors with their Dele-
gates**; and the Committee were **also to take care
to provide a place for the Entertainment of the afore-
said Rev^ Pastors & Delegates.**
There was ** Voted & Granted to Eleazer Chapin
the just Sum of one pound, fourteen shillings &
eight pence. Lawful money, for Entertaining the
Rev<i Pastors & their Delegates, att the time of the
Ordination of the Rev^ Mr. John McKinstry; and
keeping their Horses.**
Mr. McKinstry was the son of the Rev^ John
McKinstry of Ellington. The father was a graduate
of Edinburgh University, ** a gentleman of good
abilities, popular talents and unwavering integrity.**
The son was a graduate of Yale. Students* names
then appeared in the Catalogue, according to the
social position of the family. He was fourth in a
class of twelve. His father, in his seventy-fifth year,
preached the ordination sermon.
Miss Eliza McKinstry, who remembered her
grandfather dressed for meeting, said that he wore
a wig, three-cornered hat, breeches, long stockings,
shoe and knee buckles. Probably the other ministers
were dressed in a similar way, as well as many in
the congregation, though, at this time, the wig was
going out of fashion, and **the queue'* was taking its
In those days, all ministers were settled for life.
This, as well as the smallness of the population, made
an ordination a rare and interesting occasion. Not
only did the churches respond by pastor and dele-
gate, but friends and relatives came to share in the
joy. There was no Ordination Ball, as was often the
case, but there was great gladness and genuine
thanksgiving. The dinner was not a modern col-
lation, but a genuine dinner. The big brick oven
was heated again and again ; and tradition tells us of
pleasant words and good wishes, which passed between
the cooks. As one remarked, when putting the
chicken pie into the oven, ** Good luck to it!** a
bright girl replied, ** Well, this is the first time I ever
heard of asking a blessing on the oven.**
There is no record of the organization of the
Church. It is quite probable that there was no formal
organization by Council, and that the Church grew
out of the Parish, being recognized as a Church, when
such action became necessary. Similar instances of
irregularity are found in the early ecclesiastical history
of New England. There is a list of 5 1 members of
the church in 1753, one of whom is Pompey, the
Benjamin and David Chapin were chosen deacons.
Benjamin was the son of Henry; and David, the son
The Pastor's salary was at first ^^^49 6s. 8d.,
gradually increasing for ten years at the rate of il^i
8s. 8d. each year. ;^8o was voted for **a Settle-
ment." The salary was to be paid, **one half in
provisions. Wheat, Rie and Indian Corn, and one
half in silver at six shilling and eight pence per ounce."
The Settlement money was to be paid in installments
for three years, — **;^26 13s. 4d. each year." Mr.
McKinstry desired to use his Settlement money to
pay for land, which he bought ; and it was stipulated
that he should not be required to pay for that until
he received his payments from the Parish. The pro-
visions were to be paid, **i-6 in Wheat, 1-5 in Rie,
and the rest in Indian Corn," the value to be adjusted
each year, by the market price of grain. It is inter-
esting to know that in 1756 Wheat is 4s. per bushel,
Rie 2s. 8d., and Indian Corn 2s. Mr. McKinstry
was to have, also, ** Twenty-Five Cords of Wood
the first year, one cord to be added each year for Ten
years." Later, it was voted to provide Mr. McKin-
stry with ** a sufficiency of Fire wood, and also Candle-
wood.** Candle-wood is an old name for pine knots.
They were abundant and easily gathered from the
pine trees on the plains. They were burned on the
hearth, their light often taking the place of candle
The young minister closes his letter of acceptance
with these words: —
** And so earnestly wishing that the Love of God,
may be abundantly manifested towards you thro
our Lord Jesus Christ, I earnestly desire the united
interest in your Prayers for me, that all God*s Dis-
pensations may prove Merciful both to you and to
me. And So Remain
Yours to serve, in Truth & Sincerity,
John McKinstry, Jr.**
The Settlement money was paid, and the Parson-
age built by the young minister. It is still standing
on McKinstry avenue, and is now owned by Richard
DeGowan. In 1760 he brought his bride from
Suffield to make the home, so long a center of influ-
ence to this community. She was Eunice Smith, a
great granddaughter of Japhet Chapin, so she was
coming to her own in coming to Chicopee. Her
mother had been born here, and had lived here until
her marriage; and it is probable that it was while
Eunice was on a visit to her grandparents that the
parson wooed and won her. Pieces of her wedding
dress are still in the family. It was French cam-
bric, and cost 4 shillings (one dollar) a yard. The
old Button Ball tree, so long a landmark to the
Street, was planted by her, soon after her marriage.
Eight children were born in the old Parsonage.
Archibald, the second son, was the first physician in
Chicopee, but died soon after entering upon his pro-
fession. Three of the children, '*Mr. John,** "Miss
Dosia,** and "Miss Candace,** lived to old age. And
it is to Mr. John's note books and records, that we are
indebted for many interesting incidents of these early
days. He owned the first thermometer in Chicopee
Street. He was a great reader, and his Diary records
that at one time he took seven books from the Parish
Soon after Mr. McKinstry's settlement, the war
known as "The French & Indian War** broke out,
bringing fear and anxiety to these homes. A num-
ber of the young men joined the army. Edward
Chapin (afterwards Dea. Edward )^was at Lake George
in 1755 as clerk of Capt. Luke Hitchcock*s company.
Capt. Abel (afterwards Col.) was out with a company,
but was obliged to return on account of illness.
Ensign Moses was taken prisoner at Lake George in
1757. At first he fared badly; but, being able to
converse a little in Latin, he interested in his behalf,
a Catholic priest, who kindly assisted him in procur-
ing some needed comforts. He was a surveyor, and
his surveying books in Latin are still in the family.
Caleb was killed at Lake George in 1755. Capt.
Elisha, his brother, was cruelly massacred by the
Indians, July 17, 1756, at Hoosack now Williams-
town. His house was near the upper end of the
Street, where Miss Harriet Chapin now lives. He
had been Commander at Fort Massachusetts in 1754,
and, becoming interested in that part of the country,
removed his family there. A number of families
were together in the fort. While most of the men were
away in the fields, an attack was made by the Indians.
They were repulsed by the women dressed in their
husbands* clothes. Abandoning the attack upon the
fort, the Indians succeeded in taking some of the men
prisoners, among them Capt. Chapin. He was
brought to the walls and tortured to death in sight of
his wife and children. She, Miriam Ely, of Ireland
Parish, came back with her children to her early
home. One of her sons, Sewall, was graduated at
Dartmouth College, and entered the ministry, but
died young. Another, Enoch, was a captain in the
By this time, the forest path had grown into a
pleasant, well-shaded street with substantial houses
and barns. Capt. Ephraim was living on the farm
(where his grandson, Briant, afterwards lived), keeping
tavern and fatting cattle for the Boston market. Mr.
Jonathan Chapin was living on the Crehore farm ; his
brother Timothy, on land adjoining; Dea. David and
his son Benoni, on the Rowley place ; Landlord Abel,
keeping tavern on the east side of the Street ; and his
brother Japhet, on the farm adjoining his on the south.
Later his son, Simeon, built the house which stood for
many years opposite the present church, and which
was owned and occupied for nearly seventy years by
Levi Stedman and his son Benjamin. About 1750
Edward (Dea.) built a house, on what is now the
Hastings place. Samuel Clark lived at Clark or
Schoolhouse Lane. Next south was the large farm of
Phineas Chapin, afterwards divided between his two
sons Phineas (Capt.) and Silas (Col.). Dea. Benjamin
lived next on land now owned by Mrs. Marshall Pease.
William Chapin came next. He was known as **Mr.
Billy," to distinguish him from the others of the same
name ; then Seth, whose land was inherited by his three
sons, Seth, Zerah, and Zenas. Caleb Wright lived for a
while on the west side of the Street, south of the
Burying Ground ; and there were others whose homes
cannot be identified. South of Chickopee River lived
Henry, George, William, Joseph, and Benjamin
Chapin, and Benjamin Crowfoot. Mr. Japhet Chapin
also kept tavern in Lower Chicopee. After his death
his son Austin continued the business. It is said
that the old ** Toddy Road** took its name from the
habit of the armorers on Springfield Hill, who used
to come here for their refreshment, for the Temper-
ance Reform was not yet. WilHmansett was not
settled till later.
In 1753 nine men were chosen to ''seat the Meet-
ing House,** and it was ** Voted, to seat men and
women together,** after the fashion lately introduced
in the new Meeting House in Springfield. At first
they had been seated separately, the men on the
north, and the women on the south side. It was
also ** Voted, that one year in age be equivalent to
Four Pounds of Estate.** The next year ** Voted,
that one year in age is equivalent to Three Pounds of
''Voted, that the Pews left unseated, be for the
use of girls under sixteen years of age.**
(The last seating of the Meeting House was in
1809. There was sometimes jealousy and dissatis-
faction ; but, on the whole, it seems to have been a
This same year, 1753, it was —
"Voted, that the Parish take care y* a Drum be
beat to call the People to meeting at Proper Seasons.**
The Drum was beaten up and down the Street. It
was owned by Mr. Ebenezer Jones, and he was paid
5*/4 in consequence of its being broken. After this
47 is granted "to hire a Sign that may give notice
of the meetings for the year ensuing." This sign
was probably a conch shell.
** Voted, to agree with some person or persons to
Sweep and Cleanse the Meeting House.*' Five
shillings and four pence was at first paid for this
service. Later more was given.
The Parish officers were all paid a small sum for
their services. These items are for 1763 : —
£. s. d.
To Mr. McKinstry as a Sallary for the yearpast, 61-6-8
To Benoni Chapin for sweeping the Meeting House, 0-8-0
To Mr. Jonathan Bement, for his services in
apprizing Fire wood, 0-8-0
To Edward Chapin for his services as Parish Clerk, 0-3-0
To Abel Chapin for his services as Treasurer, 0-3-0
To Defray Contingent Charges, 8-0-0
In 1758 ** Voted, and Chosen Messrs. Abel Chapin,
Benjamin Jones & Ebenezer Taylor to be a Comm^^ee
to apply to the Select Men for the town of Spring-
field, or to the Quarter Sessions ( as the occasion may
require) in order to have a Stated Ferry in this Parish
for the more Convenient Crossing the Great River,
and also for obtaining a Convenient Road for said
purpose on the West Side of Said River.** A road
to the Landing on the east side had been laid out in
1729. This Ferry Road was just south from the
place where Col. Abel Chapin afterwards built his
tavern. About 1836 or 7, it was moved to the upper
end of the Street, north of Mr. Frederic Chapin's
house. This ferry was known for many years as
** Jones's Ferry."
By 1774 Springfield had begun to *'take into
Serious and Deliberate Consideration the present
Dangerous condition of the Province.** The situation
was indeed trying, for most of these men and women
were of English blood ; and those who were not had
found safety and protection under English govern-
ment and law. They had brought to New England
not only the English language, but English customs
and habits. Their public officers were called by
English names, as Perambulator, Sheriff, and others.
The minister was the Parson. The nine o*clock even-
ing bell, still common in many New England towns,
is the Curfew of Old England. Following English
custom, their farms were divided by ditches. Some
of these still remain, marking boundaries laid out in
the long ago days. The old home in the Mother
Country was still dear to them. They mourned
England's danger or defeat by solemn days of fasting
and prayer; and, when in 1746 **the Duke of Cum-
berland obtained the remarkable victory against the
Rebels (Charles Edward the Pretender) in North
Britain,** they kept glad thanksgiving.
But they could not allow even England to oppress
them, and when the town appointed a Committee of
Public Safety, Ensign Phineas, Capt. Ephraim, and
Dea. Edward Chapin were of the number. Money
was voted *'to teach soldiers the military art," and
every able-bodied man was required to train, that he
might be in readiness for any outbreak.
When the crisis came in 1775, Paul Revere was
not the only messenger who rode to alarm the
country. Scarcely had the first shot been fired at
Concord bridge, when Isaac Bissell armed with au-
thority from Z. Palmer, one of the Committee of Pub-
lic Safety in Boston, started in hot haste for the Con-
necticut Valley. He asked for men and horses.
From Springfield sixty-two men responded. Among
them, from Chicopee, — Jacob Chapin, Israel Chapin,
Phinehas Chapin, Eleazar Chapin, Jr., Solomon
Chapin, Joseph Chapin, Jr. ; from Skipmuck, — Gad
Horton, John Stedman, Phinehas Stedman.
Others who joined the army later were Col. Abel
Chapin, who marched with a company to Ticonder-
oga. In his company there were from Chicopee and
Willimansett, — Moses Bliss, Zekiel Chapin, Benoni
Chapin, Zerah Chapin, Ebenezer Burbank, Eleazar
Wright, Thomas Frink, Collins Brown.
Captain Ephraim Chapin commanded a company
belonging to the regiment of Col. Ruggles Wood-
bridge. In his company were, — Paul Chapin, Eben-
ezer Jones, Japhet Chapin, Seth Chapin, John Frink,
David Chapin, Jacob Chapin, George Chapin.
Capt. Joseph Morgan's company belonged to Col.
John Mosely*s regiment, 3d Hampshire Co. They
"marched to Springfield and Northampton in sup-
port of Government,** also to ''reinforce Northern
Army, commanded by Col. Timothy Robinson of
Granville." In this company were, — Lucas Morgan,
Joseph Morgan, 2d, and Erastus Morgan — all from
Capt. Enoch Chapin, who commanded a West
Springfield company, was also from Ireland Parish.
There was intense and angry fueling throughout
the country. We quote one verse of a popular song,
which Miss Eliza McKinstry remembered as sung by
her grandfather and grandmother Williams.
Lamentation over Boston.
Composed while the City was in Possession of the British.
Is Boston my dear town? Is it my native place?
For since my calamity, I do earnestly remember it.
If I forget, if I do not remember it,
Then let my numbers cease to flow, and be my muse unkind.
Then let my tongue forget to move, and ever be confined.
Let horrid jargons split the air, and tear my nerves asunder.
Let hateful discords greet my ear, and terrible as thunder.
Let harmony be banished hence, and consonance depart.
Let dissonance erect her throne, and reign within my heart.
In 1776 and 7, Dea. Edward was in the Legisla-
ture, serving his country as faithfully there, as were
his neighbors and cousins in the army; and in 1778
both he and Ensign Phinehas were Selectmen, caring
for the needy families of the soldiers. Edward
Chapin, Jr., was in the army, but we do not know
his company or regiment.
The war brought serious and pressing difficulties.
At its close, the depreciation of the currency, together
with the high price of merchandise, and even of the
necessaries of life, increased the distress. The depre-
ciation of the currency is shown by the vote of the Parish,
of '* i^68 to supply Mr. McKinstry with fire wood.**
Shays*s Rebellion grew out of these difficulties, and
Chicopee was for a time the rallying point of one
company of the insurgents. They took possession of
the then new Chicopee bridge, but scattered in con-
fusion when the news of Shays*s defeat reached them,
many of them fleeing through our Street. One found
refuge and a hiding place in a secret chimney closet
at Capt. Ephraim Chapin*s ; and a sick soldier was
kindly cared for at Parson McKinstry*s.
In 1782 the Legislature had passed **an Act
granting a Lottery for erecting a Bridge over Chicka-
bee River on the Road leading from Springfield to
Hadley in the County of Hampshire,** "as much Ex-
pense, Difficulty and Danger attend the passing of the
River.*' Two hundred pounds had been appropriated
by the town, and it had also "voted to take all the
Lottery tickets unsold,** and to be responsible for
the prizes. The bridge was finished in 1783, some
time before any bridge was built over the Connecticut.
In 1786 **the Inhabitants on the West Side of
the River" desired to be incorporated into a separate
parish, and a committee — Lieut. John Miller,
Lieut. Charles Ball, and Mr. Lucas Morgan were
chosen to petition the General Court. There were
delays and complications, but the matter was finally
settled in 1792 to the satisfaction of both parties.
The church, now the First Church of Holyoke, was not
organized until 1799. The eleven members had been,
nearly all of them, members of our Chickopee church.
Dea. Edward's Diary, a part which is preserved,
is interesting as showing the men and women and the
times. The first entry is on September 9, 1745, ** A
cool, foggy morning.** He tells us of the weather, of
his hunting and farming, of *• the savage Indian foes**
and their attacks upon the settlements, of his journeys
to Northfield and to Boston, of his subscribing for a
newspaper — a Boston paper, — of the building of a
schooner, ''The Hampshire,** by the neighbors to carry
their produce to market at Hartford, which makes but
one successful trip and **is lost ! about 10,000 cwt. lad-
ing and all !** of the building of the Meeting House and
schoolhouse, of the texts and sermons, of his going
**last night (May 28, 1752), to L. — M. — W., &
urging the affair of matrimony to be accomplished,'*
of being '* Published at Springfield.** And we rejoice
in the record, **6 July, 1752, The author of this
journal married about this time.**
We can sympathize with the people, when on
''March 24, 1748/9,** it is recorded, **A long spell of
very muddy travelling this Spring.**
June 9, *' This day was observed as a day of
humiliation and prayer through the Province, on
account of y^ distressing Drought.**
December 28, 1751, '* We are informed that some
in Boston who keep thermometers find that several
days this week, it is colder by 7 or 8 degrees than
has been known for several years past.**
Nov. 13, 1753, ''About II o*clock in y^ forenoon
to ye surprise of many was heard y® report as of a
large Cannon in the air, and by some in Connectticut
the same, an Alarm of a Drum following by the space
of several minutes.**
May 23, 1766, "The School House in Hartford
Blowed up by Powder. Killed & wounded. Oh!
Sad Effects of intemperate joy for the Repeal of the
This is the last entry preserved.
This old letter, carefully preserved among old
records, wills, and deeds, shows that the course of
true love did not always run smooth with the young
men and maidens of the ** Antient**days.
* September 27, 1770.
Sir, I take the Liberty To write to you on a Sub-
ject I never meddled with Before. I Desarn a Very
Great alteration in a Sartain female Sence your absence
from here, and such uneasyness of mind as I fear the
Event. She is sensible of her abuse to you, and de-
sires you would give Her one opertunity more to
Speak to you and if you will grant her the favour,
you may make some Business with me, and I will
Give you a Secret opertunity, and Sir, if you will not
Do it for her Sake, please Do it for mine.
I am not about to Bring you into a Snare.
Whether you comply or not Pray keep this an entire
Your Humble Servant.
A few colored people were held as slaves, but
slavery was always a mild form in Massachusetts.
Pompey and Betty, who were married Nov. lo,
I755> belonged to Phineas Chapin. Bowen was
owned by Landlord Abel; and Caesar, by Lieut.
Japhet. Caesar ran away. Rev. Peletiah Chapin,
who had married the daughter of Lieut. Japhet,
went in search of him, but stopping to preach lost
him again. History does not say if he was ever
found. Boston was bought from Charles Colton by
Capt. Ephraim Chapin in 1760, for * 'Fifty-five Pounds
Lawful Money.** Another was Stephen, whose name
appears on the tax list, but with no intimation of his
From 1779 to 1785 there are no Parish records.
Meanwhile, Mr. McKinstry had been growing feeble,
and with loss of vigor his voice was growing weak.
The young people were not coming into the church,
and there seems to have been general dissatisfaction.
The times were hard, and by the division of the
Parish the church was to lose some strong men on the
west side of the river. An effort was made to secure
the resignation of Mr. McKinstry, and one faction
went so far as to close the meeting house. But Mr.
McKinstry had been settled for life, and, reasonably
enough, was unwilling to give up his pastorate.
After long discussion, and much recrimination, the
matter was very wisely settled by a Council, of which
Dr. Bezaleel Howard of Springfield was scribe.
Mr. McKinstry retained his parish. He was to
perform such ministerial services as the Parish desired
and his strength allowed. In return he was to receive
from the Parish ;^i8 a year, and fifteen cords of
wood. It was voted to secure as colleague ** a
learned and orthodox minister.** Rev. Stephen Bemis,
who had studied theology with Rev. Dr. Lathrop of
West Springfield, and had married a daughter of
Capt. Phinehas, was called, but he declined. For
sixty-one years Mr. McKinstry was pastor of this
church, but for only thirty was he in active service.
He died in 1813.
Dr. Lathrop, who preached his funeral sermon
speaks of him as **a man of good natural abilities, a
respectable scholar, and a sound divine, a man of
exemplary piety, a modest disposition and unwavering
patience under long continued trials.**
In 1796 it was '* voted to hire a master to instruct
in Singing.** This was of course Church Music.
Watts* Psalms & Hymns was in use here, very soon
after its first introduction into the country, and there
was a choir in the meeting house, almost from the
very first. In 1798 *' voted to see what number of
persons are likely to attend a Singing School should
one be set up in the parish.** Sufficient interest was
shown to raise $40. Mr. Stickney was the first
master. Among later teachers were Joseph Pease,
Dea. Asa Pease of Granby, Cyrus White of South Had-
ley, and Reuben Goodman. Master Stickney*s Singing
School was the beginning of a series which continued,
winter after winter, for more than fifty years.
In 1 795 Col. Abel Chapin built the old brown
house, where he *'kept Tavern** for many years,
hanging out under the old elm tree the sign which
told of good cheer and hospitality within. This sign,
still in existence, shows on one side haystacks and
sheaves of grain, on the other an ox and sheep with
the name, S. Chapin, in large letters underneath.
Col. Abel was a large farmer, and fatted cattle for
the Brighton and New York markets, cattle which
were the wonder and admiration of all. His son,
Sumner, after him, continued the tavern and the fat-
tening of cattle. Both father and son received many
premiums for their stock. Some of us remember the
beautiful Short Horns coming home from Cattle Show
with their blue ribbon premium badges tied to their
It has been the fashion with some of this day and
generation to deride the narrowness of old New
England times. It is true that life in those days was
very simple, but that life can hardly have been
amusingly narrow, which dwelt continually on the
tremendous realities of Liberty in this world and of
Salvation in the world to come ; and to the sweet and
wholesome influence of these homely lives we owe
much that is good in these latter days. Devout in
thought and habit, no people ever had truer reverence
for God, the Bible, or the Sabbath.
Family worship was almost universal, as was also
the custom of asking a blessing at the beginning and
of returning thanks at the close of every meal. In
most families the Sabbath began and ended at sun-
down, but a few thought with Mr. Pyncheon, that
**The Lord's day did begin with the natural morning
at midnight, and end with the natural evening at
At first there were few clocks or watches, the
hour glass, sun dial, and noon mark being used to
mark the time. But by the close of the last century,
tall clocks had become common.
Homespun was the common, everyday dress, but
most men had a Sunday suit of English broadcloth,
while their wives had one or more silk dresses. Cloaks
of beautiful red broadcloth were worn, and, occasion-
ally, one of black satin.
Mrs. Kezia, wife of Major Moses, who was mar-
ried in 1785 and died in 1822, left a wardrobe that
would be elegant even in these modern days.
Every young girl had her chest or drawers of bed
and table linen, blankets, coverlids, underwear and
stockings, probably spun, woven, and knit by her own
hands. The store accumulated from year to year,
and was ready for her marriage, when that came, or,
if she remained unmarried, perhaps she needed it all
the more. It was called her ** setting out,*' a quaint
term to indicate the new life upon which she entered.
The first carpets were ** Home made.** They
were of wool, with beautiful stripes of bright colors,
and were filled with coarse heavy linen yarn.
*'Boughten** carpets, as they were sometimes
called, did not come into these homes until after the
War of 1 8 12. Mrs. Giles Chapin, Betsey Chapman
of Ellington, brought two carpets when she came, a
bride, to Chicopee Street in 18 16. By 1830 they
were common in every '* North** or ** South Room,**
as the parlors of those days were generally called.
The houses were warmed by fireplaces, great
caverns filled with backlog and forelog as founda-
tion for the smaller wood laid on top. The cooking
was all done at the kitchen fireplace, which was
furnished with a crane, with hooks and trammels for
hanging pots and kettles, while below on the hearth,
in a bed of coals, stood spider, skillet, or famous bake-
kettle. Most of the baking was done in the brick
oven, and no more delicious and appetizing food was
ever eaten than came from these old brick ovens.
The big kitchen was the living room, and was the
most attractive room in the house. There on winter
** Shut in from all the world without
We sat the clean- winged hearth about.
Content to let the north-wind roar,
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat.**
As matches were unknown, every house had a
tinder box, with flint and steel, and scorched linen,
for striking fire, when necessary. But great care was
taken to preserve the fire, by covering it with ashes,
when not needed. Sometimes fire was borrowed from
a neighbor, and there were town laws ordering, that
**fire shall always be covered, when carried from
house to house."
The warming pan was part of the furniture of
every house. This was a covered brass pan with a
long handle, often of mahogany, which was filled
with coals, and passed between the sheets at bedtime
to take off the chill. It was used in sickness, or in
extreme cold weather, when the children and old peo-
ple were treated to a warm bed.
Foot stoves were common, and were often carried
to meeting, filled with coals from hard wood or cobs.
The old Meeting House must have been a bitter cold
place in winter, for fire in the House of God would
have been considered an enervating luxury. It is re-
membered that when the question of putting a stove
into the new Meeting House came up for discussion,
one man remarked: '* If you had more of the grace
of God in your hearts, you could keep warm enough
without a fire.**
Candles were the only artificial light at first and
for many long years, excepting candle wood, a name
given to pine knots, of which a plentiful supply was
always kept for use. They were burned in the fire-
place during the long winter evenings, giving a
brilliant light to the big kitchen. Candles were made
at home by dipping the long wicks in hot melted
tallow. Dipping candles was a most interesting proc-
ess. Under the skillful hand of the housewife they
grew into the proper size and form, and when the
number of dozens needed for family use was com-
pleted, they were properly cooled and laid away in
store in the candle box.
After the death of friends, it was customary to
**put up a bill*' as it was called, '* asking the pray-
ers of God's people, that the affliction might be sanc-
tified to the surviving family and friends." The rela-
tives all sat together, and some who were never seen
in church dared not lose their respectability by stay-
ing away at this time. On one occasion, the minis-
ter prayed so earnestly for a family of motherless
children, asking that the loss might be more than made
up to them, that the father was indignant, saying,
** He prayed that the Lord would give them a better
mother." This custom was continued here until
The old Burying Ground was opened in 1741.
Miss Sarah Hitchcock of Brimfield, who died while
visiting relatives here, was the first to be laid there.
It was enlarged in 1797, when forty-five dollars
was spent in caring for it, and when it was taken in
legal form under the care of the Parish. Since that
first burial, over seven hundred of our ancestors,
relatives, and friends have found their last resting
place in this quiet spot.
The gladdest day of all the year was Thanksgiv-
ing Day, for to us of Puritan ancestry Christmas was
then unknown (Christmas was kept for the first time
in Chicopee Street in 1867). No New Englander can
ever forget and no outsider can ever understand the
meaning of '' getting ready for Thanksgiving." For
weeks beforehand, all the housekeeping arrangements
were planned for it. The farm work was hurried up that
the boys might be ready to begin school '* the Mon-
day after.** New shoes, new gowns, new bonnets
and hoods and cloaks were made ready — everything
must be in order for the great and joyful occasion.
Pies without number, and in bewildering variety,
found their way from the fragrant big brick oven to
the buttery shelves. The raised cake, a modification
of the English plum pudding, was a work of art. It
was always baked on the week before. At least
twenty-four hours were required from the making of
the yeast before the beautiful brown loaves gladdened
Then came the long watched-for Sunday when the
Proclamation was read. And when the minister rose
in the great pulpit, opened the big sheet printed with
the big letters, and, after reading the causes for
thankfulness which the pious heart of the Governor
had suggested, closed with the stirring words, **GOD
SAVE THE COxMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS,"
our hearts beat fast with pride and patriotism.
Going to meeting was a part of Thanksgiving
Day. It was a re-union of friends, for children and
grandchildren came to the old home to keep the day
in glad remembrance. Special music was always pre-
pared, and the Meeting House rang with Psalm and
The dinner table was loaded with all the good
things which the farm could supply and the skill of
the housekeeper provide. One thing must not be
forgotten, which was always on the table, the
chicken pie. The turkey might sometimes be left
out, but the chicken pie never.
The first house in Willimansett was built by Abel
Chapin (Landlord Abel), probably about 1720. No
other settlement seems to have been attempted for
many years. Some time before 1777, Rev. John
Pendleton, Collins Brown, Gillis Frink, and Eleazar
Wright had built houses in Willimansett. Rev. John
Pendleton was a Baptist minister, and preached occa-
sionally. His house stood near the South Hadley line.
He was killed by a fall from his horse. After the
Revolutionary War, a brother of John, Caleb, the
father of Nathan and Jesse, settled near him.
Capt. Joseph Griswold came about this time and
built the house now the home of his granddaughters.
Miss Elizabeth Mack and Mrs. Helen M. Stratton.
Here he kept tavern until his death in 1829. For
nearly forty years the old sign with the British Lion
on one side, and the American Eagle wearing on its
breast a shield with the Stars and Stripes, on the other,
welcomed the traveler.
By 1 76 1 the number of children had increased so
much as to make the old school building uncomforta-
bly small. This was taken down, and what some of
us remember as **The old Red Schoolhouse *' was
built on the same lot — in later years, between Dr.
Amos Skeele*s on the north, and Dea. Joseph Pease's
on the south. It was an excellent building for the
time, well built and substantial. It was of two
stories and fronted the south. At first there were
fireplaces, afterwards box stoves were substituted for
these, one of them being large enough to hold four-
foot wood. It was not only schoolhouse but Parish
house, and was used for a variety of purposes, —
Prayer Meetings and Lectures, Singing Schools, De-
bating Societies, Spelling Schools, Temperance and
Anti-Slavery meetings, and sometimes a Justice's
Court. In the lower room the desks were on three
sides, rising by steps to the last row against the wall.
Upstairs the seats and desks were movable. The
older scholars occupied the room downstairs; and
the little ones, the upper room. Sometimes there was
a private school in the upper room for the more ad-
vanced scholars. In this room there was a pair of
globes, an orrery, and a prism.
The names of only two of the teachers of the
early days are known, Samuel Ely and Samuel
Leonard, Jr. In 1773 the latter received '* £7 for
teaching the school in Upper Chickopee the space of
six months." For many years there were frequent
changes in the teachers. A young woman taught all
the scholars in the summer and the younger scholars
in the winter, but a man was thought necessary to
govern the large boys in the winter. He was often a
This schoolhouse also was built by the people of
the Street; but two years later, in 1763, the town
voted "Six Pounds to Ensign Phineas, Ephraim, and
Edward Chapin of Upper Chicopee towards paying
for the schoolhouse.** The Spelling Book and
Catechism were the first books studied. The Testa-
ment was the first reading book. Writing was taught,
and simple arithmetic. Fine penmanship was con-
sidered an accomplishment. Later The Schoolmas-
ter's Assistant, often called Daboll's Arithmetic, came
into use and kept its place for a long time. In 1783
Webster's Spelling Book with it^ fables and wonderful
pictures made the children glad, and the next year
Morse's Geography told most wonderful things about
the earth's surface. The Art of Reading and The
American Preceptor were added to the Testament for
reading books, and Murray's Grammar began to teach
**how to speak and write the English language cor-
By 1830, Smith's series of school books, Grammar,
Geography, and Arithmetic, was in common use.
Peter Parley began his story telling about this time,
and continued it in Geography, and in the First,
Second, and Third Books of History. Emerson's
Arithmetic, with its pretty pictures, was the first
child's Arithmetic ; and Colburn's Mental Arithmetic
was the standard for more than forty years.
Those of us who had the good fortune to be
brought up with the interesting series of Readers
published by G. & C. Merriam, remember them with
delight. The Easy Primer, The Child's Guide, The
Improved Reader, The Intelligent Reader, The
National Reader, and The Village Reader, were for
their time quite equal to any modern system of school
books. But what shall I say more? For time would
fail to tell of all the books read and studied in The
Old Red Schoolhouse, during its existence of more
than eighty years. In 1842 it was moved from the
place where it had stood so long to the lot where the
present schoolhouse stands, and in 1846 it was taken
For a long time the schools were opened and
closed with prayer. The scholars were quietly dis-
missed at night, each one stopping at the door, to
bow or ''curtsey*' to the teacher. Children were
expected to show the same civility to older persons
whom they met in the street. This custom was con-
tinued as late as 1835, and some of us can remember
how we ranged ourselves in a row, to **make our
manners*' as the stage went by.
Dea. Edward lived until i8cx). He was, as we
have seen, one of the strong men, in parish, church,
town, and state, well educated, of large sympathies,
sincere piety, and consistent life. One of his sons
was Dr. Calvin Chapin of Rocky Hill, Conn., — one
of the six ministers who organized the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The
Rev. Dr. A. L. Chapin, late President of Beloit College,
was a great grandson. Dea. Edward's wife, Eunice
Colton of Longmeadow, survived him a number
of years. She was known by the quaint name of
** Granny Deacon'* — not a term of ridicule, but of
affection, for she was very much beloved. She was a
sweet singer, and, in her visits among the neighbors,
used to carry her hymn book in a bag, and sing to the
children, some of whom never forgot her clear voice
and pleasant ways. Their house, built in 1751, was
burned in 1871.
A very practical church unity existed at this time,
for among those who often preached here with accept-
ance was ** Father Rand,** so long the useful and
well-beloved pastor of the Baptist Church of Ireland
Parish. In 1804 it was ** Voted, that the people of
the denomination of the Baptists, have a right to use
the Meeting House for one year, in proportion as
they pay their taxes.** This vote was repeated in
subsequent years, probably until the Baptists were
strong enough to organize for themselves. In 18 16
they were holding services of their own in Williman-
Wagons and carriages were not seen in Chicopee
Street until after 1800, as every one rode on horse-
back. We do not read, however, that they frightened
the horses, as was the case in Blandford, where a town
meeting was called to forbid their use on this ground.
Happily the effort was unsuccessful. Capt. Phinehas
was one of the first to own a chaise, and Dr. Skeele
had one about the same time. Mr. Ruel Vanhorn of
Lower Chicopee owned the first double carriage and
drove a pair of handsome white horses.
Every able-bodied man between the ages of i8
and 45 was required to train, and Training Day
became a regular, though not a legal, holiday. Twice
a year the drums and fifes sounded the call to duty.
The Spring training was near home, a Company train-
ing. In the fall the whole regiment trained together.
Much enthusiasm was manifested, and many titles
were won in this service.
Col. Silas greatly enjoyed military practice, and
gave time and money to it. It is remembered of him,
that on the last day on which he rode as colonel at the
head of his regiment, he spent one hundred silver
dollars, in entertaining his officers and soldiers.
Col. Levi C. Skeele was the last man in Chicopee
to receive a commission, under the old laws. This
commission is dated March 5, 1835, ^^^ ^s given by
** His Honor, Samuel T. Armstrong, Lieutenant
Governor and Commander in Chief of the Common-
wealth of Massachusetts.** Soon after this changes
were made in the statutes, and he was ** honorably
discharged at his own request in 1837.**
One familiar feature of those old days, the later,
not the earlier ones, was the Post Rider, or, as he was
commonly called, **The Post.*' Every Wednesday
morning brought Mr. Harvey Judd from South
Hadley on his way to Springfield. On Tuesday, he
rode to Northampton, bringing from there the North-
ampton Courier and Hampshire Gazette, which he
distributed to subscribers along his route. There
were a few in Chicopee Street who preferred the
Northampton papers. Wednesday P. M. saw him
returning with the Springfield Republican, Springfield
Gazette, and Hampden Post. How eagerly we used
to watch and listen for the blowing of the horn which
announced his approach ! His wagon was usually
well loaded with boxes and bundles, for express
companies were not yet. Sometimes he carried
letters and occasionally passengers. Winter's cold
or summer s heat rarely kept him from his weekly
round, and the memory of his regular visits is among
the pleasant things of childhood.
We must not forget the stage, which twice a day,
for many years, rumbled through our Street. After
1823 it brought and carried the mail. The yellow
coach, with its four horses, was the most elegant con-
veyance imaginable, and how we children envied the
people who found it convenient or necessary to travel
in that luxurious manner. At first one coach was
sufficient for the needs of travel, but in the years just
before the building of the Conn. River Railroad three
and four crowded stages passed daily.
The years passed on. One by one the old men,
good and true, and the women, gracious and faithful,
were gathered to their fathers. In 1804 there were
but seven male members in the church. This year
Dr. Amos Skeele moved into the place ; and a little
before this a young man, Joseph Pease, had married
Bethiah Chapin, and opened the first store in Chico-
pee Street. Mr. Pease's life was unique in the number
of offices and positions he was called to fill. He was
first Mr. Pease, then Ensign, Captain, 'Squire, and
Deacon. As a young man he taught school, was a
farmer, merchant, lumber dealer, and manufacturer.
He was Representative to the Legislature. As Jus-
tice of the Peace he was often called to settle estates,
sometimes to act as Judge, and occasionally to marry
people. As a singer he had a fine tenor voice, and
he often taught singing school, played the bass viol,
and led the choir. Everywhere he was an esteemed
and useful citizen.
Dr. Skeele was an earnest Christian, a man of in-
domitable energy, with the courage of his con-
victions and of a mighty faith. When his wife, a
woman of rare loveliness of character, objected to
moving to Chicopee because there was no minis-
ter, his reply was: *' If we go to Chicopee, we will
have a minister." At this time the Sabbath services
were irregular, perhaps unattractive. For three or
four months in each year, preaching was hired; at
other times ** Deacon's Meetings'* were held, when a
sermon was read.
After Dr. Skeele came he took charge of these
meetings. Mr. Pease led the singing, — they always
had good singing, — and Mr. Caleb Pendleton read the
sermon. Mr. Pendleton writes in his Diary: ** From
the year 1800 in April to the present year (1824), I
have for the most part assisted in Meetings on the
Sabbath & at other times in the Parish, having read
456 Sermons, and many other pieces on Divinity in
Meetings." Occasionally Mr. Osgood, the young
minister from Springfield, or Mr. Storrs from Long-
meadow, or Dr. Lathrop from West Springfield came
for a Sunday and administered the Lord's Supper to
the few disciples left, Dr. Skeele carrying on his heart
continually his desire for a settled pastor.
Two helpers in his prayers and efforts might be
styled, as the Apostle John styled his friends, ** Elect
Ladies," — '* Widow Lucy" and ** Widow Mary," as
they were called. ** Widow Lucy" lived in the
house which, until recently, stood in the corner op-
posite the church, once owned and occupied by Levi
Stedman. Sh^ had been a faithful friend to Mr. Mc-
Kinstry, and her house was open for service when
the old Meeting House had been forcibly closed.
Her faith in the future of the church was strong, and
her prayers for its prosperity unceasing. The 2d
Part of Watts's version of the I02d Psalm was her de-
light, especially the ist, 2d, 5th, and 6th verses,
which she often repeated, emphasizing the lines: —
*' This shall be told, when we are dead
And left on long record.'*
'' It shan't be said that praying breath
Was ever spent in vain.*'
Her faith was rewarded. A pastor was settled in
May, 1824, and she lived until September of the
"Widow Mary** was a younger woman, of deep
piety and unusual executive ability. She was the
widow of '* Young Capt. Ephraim,'* as he was called
to distinguish him from his father. She lived in the
house now owned and occupied by Mrs. Marshall
Pease. It might be said of her, as of the beloved,
Persis, **She labored much in the Lord.** Always
ready for every good work, she was a blessing to the
church and community, and died in a good old age.
Two young men joined the church during these
days of darkness and depression, men of influence
in the church and community — Orange Chapin and
Giles S. Chapin. Both served the church as Dea-
cons. Dea. Orange taught school for a while, after-
wards he was farmer and surveyor, or civil engineer.
He was Assessor and Selectman, and Representative
to the Legislature. He was Captain of a military
company, and was for more than thirty years Justice of
the Peace. He was Clerk of the Parish for forty
years, and Deacon for twenty-seven years.
Giles S. Chapin was Deacon for twenty-eight
years. He, too, was Selectman and Representative.
He was farmer and manufacturer, and a very success-
ful business man. Both were men of earnest and
Dr. Skeele*s courage never faltered. His faith
never grew weak. Financial embarrassment and hard
times followed the war of 1812. But the country
rallied, and the farmers were again prosperous.
Wherever there was a ministers* meeting of any kind
in the vicinity, association or ordination. Dr. Skeele
was there with his question, ** Do you know of any
minister we can get to settle among us? "
** Doctor, your church cannot support a minister."
•* We are going to have a settled minister," was
his invariable reply.
'* Father, you are crazy," said his eldest son to
him one day. **We cannot support a minister."
** Otis, I shall live to see a settled minister."
As physician he rode up and down the Street,
across the plains to Ludlow, up the River to South
Hadley, to Lower Chicopee, sometimes to West
Springfield, always planning and praying for a settled
Brighter days came at last. The Home Mission-
ary Society was willing to help, and a call was given
to the Rev. Mr. Ripley. Ireland Parish was looking
towards re-union with us. But this project failed,
and Mr. Ripley declined the call. About this time
word came to Dr. Skeele that the Re;v. Alexander
Phoenix, a man in middle life, just entering the min-
istry, was looking for a country parish in the Con-
necticut Valley. He had been a merchant in New
York, where bereavement and pecuniary losses had
turned his attention to a life of increased usefulness.
This he hoped to find in the ministry. Having some
income, salary was a secondary consideration.
Two parishes sought him. He would come and
preach in Chicopee, and look over the ground. He
came. A call was given him, but he hesitated. On
the Monday morning after the last Sunday of his
preaching as a candidate, as his horse was brought to
the door, Mr. Phoenix stood a few minutes before
mounting. ** Well, Doctor, I will let you know in two
or three weeks, but I do not think I shall come here.
As things are now, I think I shall accept the call to
Hatfield. But you will hear from me soon. Good
morning." Mr. Phoenix rode away. The Doctor
turned, went into the house, and calmly observed, ** In
less than a year, that man will be our settled minister.**
It made no difference to him that Mr. Phoenix
had just told him that he should probably settle else-
where. He was sure that this was the man the Lord
had chosen for this church. His faith triumphed.
In a few days the letter came. Mr. Phoenix accepted
the call, on a salary of '* $400, with a vacation of eight
Mrs. Phoenix was a daughter of Gov. Caleb
Strong of Northampton, and both were connected
with other prominent families in New England. They
brought with them to Chicopee culture and refine-
ment. It must have been a great change from the
atmosphere of city life to a country parish in those
days, but there was no friction in the relation of pas-
tor and people. The people accepted him as their
leader and example, in temporal as well as spiritual
affairs, and reverenced him as few churches reverence
a pastor. The older people followed him as a wise
guide, the younger ones loved him as a father.
It is difficult for one who did not live here during
Mr. Phoenix's pastorate to understand his influence.
It was not that he was a great man. But he accepted
the opportunity which came to him, and in ways most
wise and discreet he helped the people in their every-
day life, while he
** Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.'*
For the sake of his oldest son, who was not a
strong man, he bought a farm, brought new and im-
proved breeds of cattle, and new methods of farming.
His garden was an object lesson. Strawberries had
been cultivated before. He brought finer kinds. He
had beautiful flowers. He built the first picket fence.
In his house he had a family school, which was open
to the young women of the parish, who gladly availed
themselves of the opportunity to attend it.
Mr. Phoenix was ordained and installed on
Wednesday, April 28, 1824.
The following notice is copied from an old Church
Record : —
** The day was solemn as well as interesting in the
prospect before us, in the Ordination and Settlement
of Mr. Alexander Phoenix at Chicopee, the 2^
Parish in Springfield (Mass.) as a Pastor of the Church
and People, and was performed in the following
order, viz. Kev^ Mr. Wright of Ludlow to make
the Report of the appointment of the Ordination,
the setting of the Council, and the duties assigned to
each Minister to act on the day. The Rev^ Mr.
Knapp of Westfield made the Introductory Prayer.
The Kev^ Doct. Romeyn of New York to Preach
the Sermon, from 2^ Timothy 2 Chap. 15*^ v. The
Kev^ Mr. Gould of Southampton made the Conse-
crating Prayer. The Rev^ Mr. Williams of Northamp-
ton gave the Charge. The Rev^ Mr. Osgood of
Springfield gave the Right Hand of Fellowship and
the Rev^ Mr. Chapin of Granby, the East Society,
made the concluding Prayer.
'*A11 parts of duty were performed with Solemnity,
and the Assembly appeared to have an attentive ear,
and good order on the occasion.
** Caleb Pendleton, Jr., Clerk of the Ch."
One of the conditions of Mr. Phoenix's settle-
ment was the repairing of the old Meeting House, or
the building of a new one. It was decided to build ;
$3000, in sixty shares of $50 each, was raised by
subscription, and the work was put into the hands of
Shepherd & Whitmarsh, at that time a prominent
building firm of Springfield. The building committee
were Dea. Joseph Pease, Lewis Ferry, Jr., Orange
Chapin, Joseph Chapin, Giles S. Chapin, Silas Sted-
man, and Stephen C. Bemis.
The lot of land on which the house was built was
given by Eleazar and Mary Chapin Strong of Gran-
ville. Mrs. Strong was a granddaughter of Dea.
David, and her home had been in the old house with
the fortified door. Perhaps a few who read this will
remember her as ** Miss Polly." The Meeting House
when finished **cost Four thousand, four hundred
dollars, some odd cents.** The beautiful mahogany
pulpit, costing $5CX), was given by friends of Mr. and
The corner stone was laid on May 12, 1825, and
the Meeting House was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1826.
Mr. Phoenix preached the sermon from 2d Chron.,
7th chap., i2-i6th verses. The Rev. Messrs. Osgood,
Sprague, and Gould assisted in the services, Dea.
Asa Pease of Granby led the singing.
The committee to seat people on the day of dedi-
cation were Orange Chapin, Closson Pendleton, Dr.
Rodolphus Perry, Chester W. Chapin, Stephen C.
Bemis, Miletus Pendleton, and Joseph Griswold, Jr.
The slips were bought by individuals, and among
the owners we find the names of Samuel Osgood,
Edward Pyncheon, and Daniel Bontecue. The most
valuable slips were the one set apart as the minister's
pew, and the one on the opposite side of the house,
bought by Joseph Pease for $200. When the Meet-
ing House was built, there was no other church
between South Hadley and Springfield, though the
same year a small Methodist church was built at
what is now Chicopee Falls. The congregation here
came from Willimansett, Chicopee Factory, and
Lower Chicopee, and no one dreamed of the changes
which a few years would make in the parish.
Mr. Phoenix's pastorate continued eleven years.
His son-in-law says of him in his funeral sermon:
* * These years of pastoral labor in Chicopee were as
full of peace and happiness as any man could hope
for in this world." The wonderful revival which
swept over the country, especially New England, in
1830 and 31, visited Chicopee, and large additions
were made to the church. But bereavement followed
him here. Two sons, his namesake, a young man of
twenty-five, and a bright boy were taken. In 1835
he left Chicopee and a sorrowing people to reside in
New Haven. He died in Harlem, N.Y., Aug.31,1863.
His last thoughts, almost his last words, were of
Chicopee. ** Write — write to Brother Clark. Tell
him, — tell them how much I love them." During
twenty-eight years of separation, he had loved and
remembered and prayed for his people, and here to-
day there are grateful memories of him, and of the
beautiful work God gave him to do.
Rev. E. B. Wright succeeded Mr. Phoenix in a
short pastorate of four years. He was a good man,
but easily depressed, and failure of health increased
this depression. He was fond of singing and used
to gather the children on Saturday afternoons. One
half hour was spent in singing, and the other in
reciting the Catechism.
The Rev, E. B. Clark came to us in the summer
of 1839. K^ w^s acceptable from the first, and a
call was given him, which was as promptly accepted.
He was ordained and installed Oct. 16, 1839. ^^
was married to Miss Cornelia DeWitt of New Haven,
Dec. 23, 1839, and the young people came at once
to this, their first and only parish.
Mrs, Clark was a beautiful woman, lovely in per-
son and character, and her influence in the parish was
hardly secondary to that of her husband. How
wisely and tenderly she sympathized, encouraged, and
comforted will never be forgotten by those to whom
her gracious ministrations were given. Mrs. Clark
died Jan. 17, 1880.
Mr. Clark was a good pastor and a good practical
preacher. He was also a good citizen. His long life
among us gave him the feeling that all these homes
belonged to him, whether the inmates attended our
church or some other. He knew every one, and every
one knew him. The generation which grew up under
his influence were largely indebted to him for the
formation of their character.
For many years he was a member of the School
Board, both in Springfield and Chicopee. He was a
public spirited man. He planted shade trees. He
cared for the parsonage. He was intensely patriotic,
and served on the Christian Commission during the
The needs of the soldiers found a ready response
from the hearts and hands of our people. Soldiers'
Aid Societies were organized. Lint and bandages
were prepared. Apples dried, comfortable garments
for the sick and wounded made ready ; garrets and
closets were ransacked, and beds and blankets sent to
When the news of the fall of Richmond came to
Chicopee, Marshall Pease was the first to hear it. He
rushed to the church and rang out a peal of joy on
the old bell. Mr. Clark came hurrying in to know
the cause of this midday ringing.
** Richmond has fallen!" shouted Mr. Pease.
**Then let us sing the Doxology," said Mr. Clark,
and there, alone in the old church, the two sang, —
** Praise God from whom all blessings flow.*'
They had sung the words together many times before,
they sang them many times after, but never with
deeper feeling or more thankful hearts.
It was during Mr. Clark's pastorate that the
Underground Railroad ran through Chicopee Street,
with stations at Otis Skeele's and A. G. Parker's.
Mr. Clark was not unwilling to be of assistance on
this line, and at one time kept in his family several
weeks, a bright and valuable colored man, who was
in hiding from his master.
One of Mr. Clark's valued and trusted friends
was Dea. Sidney Chapin, a man whom we all love to
remember. He was a wise counselor, a generous
giver, a faithful friend, a beloved officer in the church,
a man of blessed memory.
Mr. Clark's only son is the Rev. Dr. Clark of the
Tabernacle Church, Salem. The daughter, Cornelia,
died in 1883.
Mr. Clark was pastor of this church for thirty-six
years, being dismissed in October, 1875. The changes
of these years are suggested by his farewell sermon.
In this he says that only one person is present who
was in active life in the parish when he was settled.
In November, 1883, Mr. Clark married Miss Rosetta
Wilcox of New Haven.
After his dismissal he remained in Chicopee Street
until 1888, when he removed to Springfield. Mr.
Clark died April 23, 1889. He left with his people
the benediction of a faithful and loving pastor, and
an earnest and consecrated life.
It is quite impossible to record all the reforming
and philanthropic influences of these later days. The
Temperance Society with its 1 30 autograph signers to
the Pledge; organized at first as the ** Men's Associa-
tion," it was afterwards ** voted, to take in the
Ladies." Nearly every family is represented. The
Columbian Debating Society, the Pledge for keep-
ing the Sabbath, the Maternal Association, the
Moral Reform Society, the Colonization Society,
the Anti-Slavery Society, the Monthly Concert of
Prayer for the Conversion of the World, and the
Weekly Prayer Meeting. The Monthly Concert was
on the first Monday evening of every month, and the
Prayer Meeting on Thursday evening of each week.
The latter was called the Conference Meeting, and
was held ** at early candle light.** All these meetings
were in the schoolhouse.
The faces and forms of the godly men of those
days, and the sound of their voices in prayer, are as
distinct in memory as if it were only yesterday.
Six men were always there, and always in the
same places : Dea. Simeon Stedman, Dea. Giles S.
Chapin, Mr. Lewis Ferry, Mr. William Chapin, Dr.
Skeele, and Dea. Joseph Pease. Others may have
been as faithful, but they did not always sit in the
same place, and so made less impression on the mind
of a child. After the death of Dea. Joseph Pease,
Mr. William Chapin was chosen in his place, but
declined the office. He was a good man and true,
and worthy to be held in remembrance among the
fathers of those days.
The story of the two hundred years is told. We
began our existence as the 5th Parish of Springfield.
After 1763, when Wilbraham was set off as a separate
town, we became the 4th Parish. These changes
remind us of the old days when scholars worked their
way **up the class.** In 1775 West Springfield was
organized, and again, we **went up** and became the
3d Parish. In 1783 Longmeadow left the old town,
and we were promoted to the second place, which we
kept for more than sixty years, until in 1848 we
** went to the head ** as the First Parish of Chicopee.
The old Parish was at first a territory. Now it
lies within the bounds of a single country street.
While there has always been a steady drain upon the
life of our community, Chicopee Street has from the
first possessed a wonderful vitality. The men and
women who have gone out from these homes have
gone to build up other churches, to bless other com-
munities, to brighten other lives. They have been a
race of workers. They are artisans, mechanics, farm-
ers and manufacturers, business men, lawyers and
doctors, teachers, editors, and clergymen.
Rejoicing in our past, a few of us still keep the
old home, and watch and wait with earnest longing
for the coming of better days.
Reminiscences by Judge E. W. Chapin of Holyoke
Read at the Annual Roll Call Meeting of the First Church
IN Chicopee, September 30, 1897
My dear Friends : —
The occasion which calls us together awakens feelings of pleasure
and of sadness; of pleasure, to meet old friends whom we have been
accustomed to meet in this time honored place, of sadness as we miss
the sight of familiar faces and fail to receive the cordial greetings of
friends of Auld Lang Syne. As we think of different friends who
have left us we long ** for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound
of a voice that is still.** But, if we have profited by the messages
delivered from the sacred desk, and remembered the words of wisdom in
Holy Writ, we cannot fail to recognize that our loss is our friends* gain;
that absence from the body is presence with the Lord; that joys of
immortality surpass those of time. For ourselves, —
** 'Tis sweet as year by year we lose
Friends out of sight, in faith to muse
How grows in Paradise our store.**
This is a world of change, and yet as I compare the changes of Chicopee
Street with those of Holyoke and other places about here it seems to
me there are less here than in the crowded city. This beautiful street
with its wide spreading elms standing in front of ancient dwellings
looks as attractive as ever. The Connecticut River flows by with the
same slow and steady current as in days of yore, but commerce has
put it to new uses ; freight that used to pass up and down this river
and through the old canal by the slow moving canal boats, is now car-
ried on the swift moving cars. The poet of old time wrote in its praise, —
** Roll on, loved Connecticut, long hast thou ran.
Bringing shad to Northampton and pleasure to man.**
It brings no longer shad to Northampton. Fishermen no longer gather
in nets at South Hadley Falls the shiny fish which each spring used to
bring up the river. The fishermen now stand in vain upon its shores
to lure the unwary fish with tempting bait. They have left the stream,
which has not the purity of former days. When the first dam was built
at Holyoke the Connecticut River rebelled against being stopped, and
broke away from its restraint, carrying the dam with it in its course.
As I stood by the river bank in Willimansett when a boy and saw the
river filled with timber and logs sweeping past, I recall old Mr. Sikes,
who was then a member of this congregation, always ready with some
Bible quotation, repeating on this occasion a verse from Proverbs, as
he watched the turbulent waters bearing away the timbers of the new
dam. ** Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not ? for riches
certainly make themselves wings; they fly away, as an eagle toward
Chicopee takes its name from the Indian name of Chicopee River,
which is said to mean the ** River of Elms.*' All in this vicinity at first
attended church at Springfield, and forded the Chicopee River at what
was called ** the Indian wading place " back of the Dwight Mills. It
was not until 1783 that a bridge was built across the Chicopee River.
There is a story told of one of the early settlers who trafiicked with
the Indians for furs. Not finding him at home, the Indians went to
Springfield and found him at church, but he would say little to them
beyond letting them understand that he would trade with them the next
day. One of the Indians inquired the cause of so many white men
assembled together, and the man, with an eye to business, replied that
they were putting down the price of beaver skins.
The difficulty of attending church in Springfield led to the erection
of a church in Chicopee Street in 1752; as there was no church in
Holyoke then, the early settlers there were obliged to cross the Connec-
ticut River to attend church here in Chicopee Street. Then no bell was
here to call to church, and when the first church of the valley was built, as
the hour for worship on each Sabbath morning came around, the people
were called together by the beating of a drum. Conveniences of light
and heat were not present with our ancestors as with you. There was
no fire in the first church, and if any attempt was made to carry any
substitute it was done in the shape of a foot stove containing a pan of
live coals, having a secure covering perforated with holes to let out the
warmth within. I have seen in the attic of my old home such a foot
stove, which was carried by my parents to church to warm the feet
of the occupants of our family pew. Many of us remember the long
box stove which formerly stood near the easterly end of the audience
room of this church, having a long pipe extending across the church and
turning upward towards the roof a short distance in front of the pulpit.
It had, too, I recollect, a large pan attached to the knee of the pipe to
catch any stray rivulets that might course down the pipe from the roof
and fall otherwise on the heads of the listeners below. My mother
told this story of the introduction of the first stove into the church.
Some woman opposed the innovation, fearing the heat would be too
oppressive. The stove, however, was put up, but for some reason no
fire was built in it the first Sabbath. This, however, was not known
by the woman, who was so overcome by anticipated heat that she was
compelled to leave the church during the service.
The old choir gallery has ceased to be occupied by the choir but I
cannot forget its associations. No stately organ was it our fortune to
see there, but we were not without our music. The last bell had not
ceased to ring before we used to see old Mr. Goodman, with his big
bass viol, leave the little red house across the street a short distance
above here, and with slow, dignified tread enter the church and climb
the stairway to his elevated place, and immediately proceed to tune his
instrument and awaken divers wondrous noises from its recesses, until at
last the right sounds were evoked and all was in readiness to accompany
the choir. As I had a side seat in the northwest comer of the church,
I could see the different church members as they came in and took ^^
their places Sabbath after Sabbath with prompt regularity. I recall the
time when a change was proposed in regard to the position to be occu-
pied by the congregation, as the choir was then in the rear of the
church. It had been for a long time customary for the congregation to
turn around in their pews to face the singers. The pastor suggested
that a change be made and the congregation face the minister instead
of the choir, and proposed that the audience stand as they rise. All did
not readily accept this innovation, I remember ; and I was amused
from my side seat to see the result, those in some pews, remaining
as they rose with faces turned towards the pastor, while those in the
next pews in front would rise and turn towards the singers. You have
now been prevented from having any such dilemma by placing both
choir and pastor in front of the congregation. The Sabbath school
which gathered at the close of the morning service was always of great
interest to me. The class of boys which gathered there, while I cannot
say tl^at they gave the earnest study to the lesson which they have
given in later years, were not members by any means of a Quaker meet-
ing; having been separated for several days the meeting was one par-
taking of a social as well as of a religious nature. If a boy had purchased
a new pair of boots from Mr. Adolphus G. Parker's shop during the
week he was sure to exhibit them to his fellows, and the same was true
of other new articles of wardrobe. I think Miss Julia Ann Chapin and
the other teachers who had the charge of our class found it a lively one,
but the members held their teachers in great respect and have always
remembered their kindness and sympathy. I have never regretted my
connection with classes in the Sunday school. As I grow older I am
more and more convinced that we do not appreciate the value of Bible
study as we ought. The treasures of wisdom which the Bible contains
if stored in the heart of the possessor will bring him greater happiness
than the possession of the gold mines of the Klondike in the Yukon
valley. It is the hope of an immortality taught in pulpit, Sabbath
school, and Christian homes that brings comfort to us on an occasion
like this, when we call to mind the different members of our households
whose presence we miss. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob **is
not the God of the dead, but of the living,** and we commend the
childhood faith taught us in Wordsworth's poem of the little cottage
girl of eight years, a part of which I quote.
** * Sisters and brothers, little maid.
How many may you be ? *
* How many ? seven in all,' she said.
And wondering looked at me.
** * And where are they ? I pray you tell.'
She answered, * Seven are we :
And two of us at Conway dwell
And two are gone to sea.
** * Two of as in the churchyard lie,
My sister and my brother ;
And in the churchyard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.*'
*♦ * How many are you, then,' said I,
If they two are in heaven ? '
The little maiden did reply,
* O master, we are seven I
** *■ But they are dead ; those two are dead I
Their spirits are in heaven. *
'Twas throwing words away: for still
The little maid would have her will.
And said, *Nay, we are seven.' "
Rev. John McKinstry was the first pastor of this church and a
faithful servant in his pastoral work. His successors have all been de-
voted servants of the Lord, and left noble examples of lives of use-
fulness. My acquaintance with the pastors here commenced with Rev.
£. B. Clark. He was a faithful steward during his long pastorate and,
like the venerable pastor Goldsmith describes, —
*• In his duty, prompt at every call,
He watched and wept, he prayed and felt for all."
He was faithfully assisted by his beloved wife, and all who have
met that saintly woman will ever remember the ready smile and kind
greeting she always gave. His children will always be pleasantly re-
membered by us and we all rejoice in the successful work of his son in
the city of Salem. This parish has certainly been blessed in its choice
of pastors from first to last. We all bid the present pastor God speed
in his work here. To make the most of life, we may wisely study the
examples and experience of those who have preceded us, and the fsdth
and self-sacrifice of our fathers and mothers should not be forgotten.
A reverent recognition of God's government was theirs. A conscien-
tious desire to know, and do, their duty influenced their minds and
controlled their actions. Even their failings leaned to virtue's side.
By a comparison of the present with the past the young people of to-
day may be led to prize more the opportunities before them. We live
in an age of progress. Knowledge to our eyes " has unrolled her ample
page rich with the spoils of time.*' Our choices need to be made with
the greatest care. The calls to action are many, but what to do, and
how to act, is not always clear. We need the wisdom and experience
of the past to guide us. As we return to this venerable and conse-
crated place, we are glad to find here still so many old acquaintances
and friends, descendants of the old families, whose lives and virtues
we recall with so much pleasure.
** Happy he whom neither wealth nor fashion.
Nor the march of the encroaching city drives an exile,
From the hearth of his ancestral homestead.
** We may build more splendid habitations.
Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures.
But we cannot buy with gold, the old associations."
Pastors and Deacons of the First Church
Rev, John McKinstry, 1752 — 1813.
Rev. Alexander Phoenix, 1824 — 1835.
Rev. Ebenezer B. Wright, 1835 — 1839.
Rev. EU B. Clark, 1839— 1875.
Rev. William E. Dickinson, 1876— 1887.
Rev. Collins G. Bumham, 1888—
Benjamin Chapin, 1752 — 1756.
David Chapin, 1752 — 1776.
Edward Chapin, 1773 — 1800.
Amos Skeele, 1813 — 1825.
Simeon Stedman, 1825 — 1834.
Joseph Pease, 1825 — 1839.
Giles S. Chapin, 1834 — 1863.
Orange Chapin, 1840 — 1863.
Sidney Chapin, 1863 — 1875.
Nathan Mosman, 1863 — 1866.
Marshall Pease, 1866— 1896.
William D. Chapin, 1875—
Pascal J. Newell, 1896 —
Ministers who have gone out from the Chicopee Street
Rev. Sewall Chapin,
Rev. Walter Chapin,
Rev. Calvin Chapin, D.D.,
Rev. Chester Chapin,
Rev. Ephraim Chapin,
Rev. Alfred Wright,
Rev. Samuel Chandler,
Rev. Charles Peabody,
Rev. John Alexander McKinstry,
Rev. DeWitt S. Clark, D.D.,
Rev. Amos Skeele,
Rev. Francis L. Palmer.
Singers in the Old Meeting House
Joseph Pease, Chorister.
Lucy Griswold, Counter. Orithya Chapin, Counter.
Mary Chapin, Sophia Van Horn,
Betsey Chapin, Louisa VanHorn,
Mabel Griswold, Rhedexa Chapin,
Rqxana Skeele, Frances Chapin,
Marcy Skeele, Melia Chapin,
Hannah VanHorn, Dorcas Lima Warner.
Harvey Chapin, Tenor.
Levi Stedman, Bass, Whitfield Chapin, Bass,
Alpheus Chapin, Bass, William Moulton, Bass,
Otis Skeele, Bass, Alvin Chapin, Bass,
Lewis Ferry, Jr., Bass, Sylvester Chapin, Bass.
Sheldon Chapin, Bass Viol.
Amos Skeele, Jr., Flute.
Singers in the New Meeting House, who sang on the
DAY OF Dedication, Jan. 4, 1826
Eliza McKinstry, Aurilla Talcott,
Emily McKinstry, Delina VanHorn,
Theodosia McKinstry, Joseph Pease,
Sophia Warner, Joseph Chapin,
Electa Warner, Levi Stedman,
Lima Warner, Quartus Chapin,
Mary Ann Stedman, Lewis Ferry, Jr.,
Sophia Stedman, Otis Skeele,
Sophronia Pinney, Phinehas Pease,
Huldah Morgan, James Pease,
Delina Skeele, A. G. Parker,
Elvira Chapin, Reuben Goodman.
The Sunday- School.
The first Sunday-school was held in the old church during the
summer of 1818. It was organized by the Rev. Chester Chapin. Dr.
Amos Skeele was superintendent.
The teachers were
Orange Chapin, Joseph Pease,
Caleb Pendleton, Rhedexa Chapin,
Marcy Skeele, Betsey Chapin.
The lessons were the 35th and 97th Psalms, 40th chapter of Isaiah,
29th chapter of Proverbs, Christ's Sermon on the Mount. These were
all committed to memory.
The next year Rev. Reuben Hazen, who was preaching here at
the time, formed a Bible class, which met in the old red schoolhouse.
Among the lessons were, the names of the books of the Bible, the
names by which Grod is known in the Scriptures, Is the observance of
the Sabbath enjoined in the Scriptures? answered by proof texts.
This school continuea only a short time.
Our present Sunday-school was organized in the new church in
The superintendents have been
Simeon Stedman, Benjamin H. Stedman,
Joseph Pease, Phineas Stedman,
Giles S. Chapin, William J. Baker,
Phineas Stedman, Marshall Pease,
Otis Skeele, Rev. C. G. Burnham.
The first librarian was William L. Bemis,who retained his office
till 1841, when he left the place. He was most careful and exact in the
care of the books. They were all covered with white cotton cloth.
About 1839, a number of anti-slavery books were put into the library
and these were all marked with a big black A.
In 1844, through the influence of Mr. Elias Gates, our Sunday-
school missionary society was organized. This is still in active opera-
tion. The largest membership of the Sunday-school was in 1834, when
159 names were registered. The present number is 65.
Catalogue of Books in Parish Library
1 Hervey*s Meditations.
2 Blair's Sermons.
1 Miss Rowe*s Letters.
2 Anson's Voyages.
I Bruce's Travels.
1 Goldsmith's Essays.
2 Franklin's Life.
I American Songster.
6 Raynold's Histories.
I Keats' Sketches.
I Franklin's Works.
I Natural History.
I History of England.
I Men of the World.
I Bunyan's Holy War.
1 Romance of the Forest.
2 American Revolution.
I Smith's Moral Sentiment.
I Paley's Philosophy.
I Interesting Memoirs.
I Blair's Lectures on Criticism.
I Life of Howard.
I Morse's Geography.
I Barlowe's Writings.
I Salem Witchcraft.
3 Hunter's Biography.
Beauties of History.
Sublime and Beautiful.
Vision of Columbus.
Beauties of History.
I Well Bred Scholar.
I Adams's Selections.
I Thomson's Seasons.
I 300 Animals.
I Robinson Crusoe.
1 Cyrus* Travels.
2 Algerine Captive.
I Locke's Essays.
I Burroughs* Life.
I Chappell on Miracles.
1 Ladies* Library.
2 Thomas*s Essays.
I Elements of Morality.
4 Robertson's Histories.
I Lee*s Memoirs.
I Roslin on the Covenant.
I Volney*s Ruins.
I Wattson's Apology.
I McLane on the Types.
I French Revolution.
4 Kaime's Sketches on Man.
This list is incomplete, as one volume bearing the No. 150 is still
in existence. We do not know when this Library was established,
probably near the close of the last century ; but Mr. John McKinstry
has this lamentable record, **June 21, 1834, Chicopee Vendued their
Library, and forsook the tree of knowledge.*'
Industries of The Old Fifth Parish.
Various industries have at different times occupied our people.
Titus and Erastus Morgan were still members of this parish, when they
built the saw mill ** down in the field ** on the banks of the Connecticut
in Ireland Parish, about a mile above the present Holyoke dam.
This was about 1783 and was the first utilization of that great water
The water privilege at the south end of our Street was early im-
proved by Chicopee people, for in 1791 ** a new saw mill ** was built by
Gad, Luther and Azariah Vanhom, Silas, Phinehas, William 2d,
George, Seth, and Japhet Chapin, David Ashley and John Bridges.
The first blacksmiths* shop was set up by Mr. Adkins on land now
owned by Mr. Phelon. The slag from the furnace remained there for
many years; later Mr. Dilliber had a shop near the saw mill.
At different times enterprising individuals have been sure that iron
ore could be found in our hills, but no venture ever proved very suc-
In 1810 George Gibbs of Providence, R. I., conceived the idea
that coal was hidden in the banks near the Chicopee River, and signed
a contract with Seth Chapin, which gave him liberty ** to dig and bore **
for the supposed treasure. But after a fruitless search, the contract
was annulled, and the disappointed man returned home.
For a time Otis Skeele carried on boot and shoe making near his
father's residence, afterwards removing to Willimansett, where he con-
tinued the business till 1834. When he left Chicopee Street, he sold
out to A. G. Parker and Orson Allen. Their first shop was in Mr.
Parker's house. Mr. Allen remained in the business but two or three
years. Mr. Parker built a shop and enlarged his manufacture. Both
Mr. Parker and Mr. Skeele found ready market for their boots and
shoes in Hartford and New York.
Mr. Parker made ladies* fine shoes and also heavy and fine boots.
He became a very popular shoemaker. People from Springfield or-
dered their shoes from him, among them Dr. Osgood, who used to bring
up his boys and girls to be measured for their yearly supply of slippers
and shoes. In 1853 Josiah A. Parker was taken into partnership, and
the firm became A. G. Parker & Son. The business was afterwards
removed to Chicopee Center. At one time about twenty men were
employed and shipments were made to New York and to western cities.
Mr. Parker, Sr., died in 1883, and his son continued the business for a
few years longer, but has since given it up.
The first store in Chicopee, and for many years the only one in
many miles, was opened by Joseph Pease about 1800. It stood near
the tavern and was the center of trade for the country round about.
After 1823, when Mr. Pease was appointed postmaster, the post office
was kept there until 1834, when it was removed to Willimansett. In
182 1, Stephen C. Bemis, who had been a clerk in the store, was taken
into partnership, and the firm became Pease & Bemis. Not long after
Mr. Pease sold out to Mr. Bemis. In 1824 Chester W. Chapin opened
a rival store on the opposite side of the street, but this continued only a
year, when the rival firms became one under the name of Chapin &
Bemis. Ill health caused the withdrawal of Mr. Chapin, and Mr.
Bemis continued the business alone, until his removal to Willimansett
in 1831. He had been commissioned postmaster in 1824, and con-
tinued in office so long as the post office remained on our Street.
From Stephen C. Bemis the store passed into the hands of William
L. Bemis, and from him to Eli Stephenson, who again sold out to
Parker & Bemis. Meanwhile Cabotville was growing in importance,
and trade here was becoming unprofitable. From being the center of
activity and business, having the only post office, store, doctor,
minister, and church, and the best schools in this part of the town,
we suddenly found ourselves only a suburb of a growing manufac-
Mr. Frederic Chapin added to his business of ** keeping tavern '*
the manufacture of powder on Powder Mill Brook at "Tigua.** He
afterwards made brick.
Giles S. Chapin made brick for many years and was very successful.
The brick in the oldest buildings and factories in Chicopee Center came
from his yard.
The first manufactory of friction matches in the country, perhaps
in the world, was established here in 1835. Mr. Phillips, who came
from Connecticut, had begun the making of them at his home, but he
lacked capital. He met D. Monroe Chapin, who became interested.
He, or his father, Mr. Frederic, furnished the capital and built the shop.
The firm was Chapin & Phillips. They were successful ; the business
grew. At one time sixteen girls and four men were employed. Two
large two-horse wagons went out over the state, taking orders, and
delivering the goods. After three or four years of unusual success,
the business passed into other hands and was removed from the Street.
Deacon Sidney Chapin made brooms in Chicopee Street from 1850
to 1875. He employed, for the entire time, an average of four men,
and made thirty thousand brooms per year. His market outside the
Northern states was Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and London,
England. Up to the breaking out of the civil war, he filled orders in
Atlanta and Richmond, and, as soon as peace was restored, the market
in these southern cities was at once open to him again.
In 1831, the Willimansett Manufacturing Company for the manu-
facture of machine cards and small hardware was organized, with
Bemis & Sheffield as agents. At one time as many as one hundred
men were employed. The hardware included compasses, dividers, and
other small tools. Before this time these goods were all imported and
were expensive. This enterprise changed prices, and helped to make
American hardware popular. Mr. Bemis is considered the pioneer in
the manufacture of hardware in the Connecticut valley. Later the
business was removed to Springfield, where it is continued under the
name of the Bemis & Call Company.
After this the factory, with its water privilege, was bought by
Willis Phelps, who changed it to a woolen mill. Willis Phelps,
Phelps & Smith, Henry Salisbury, and Jared Beebe continued the mak-
ing of woolen goods until after the civil war. Probably Jared Beebe
was the most successful of these. A few years ago the mill was burned.
It has been partly rebuilt, but never occupied since.
The first post office in Willimansett was established in 1834.
Sylvester Allen was the first postmaster. He was succeeded by Clos-
son Pendleton and later by Pascal J. Newell.
The Connecticnt River Railroad was opened, and the Williman-
sett station built in 1845.
In 184 1 Closson Pendleton opened the hotel and kept it a few
years. With the building of the bridge a new prosperity has come to
the village, and it is again one of the busy wards in the City of Chicopee.