The first settler in Easthampton was John Webb, one of the sign­



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Easthampton

BY GEORGE F. EVANS

FROM the first recorded settlement in 1664 to 1785 the present town of Easthampton was included in the boundaries of Northampton, with

one exception, in 1741, when a portion was transferred to Southampton. The early histories of Hampshire County are sufficiently definite so that many of the events which occurred can be identified as having taken place in Easthampton.

The first settler in Easthampton was John Webb, one of the sign­

ers of the planters' agreement for Northampton. On December 13, 1664 he was granted a piece of land at Pascommuck-now the village of Mt. Tom-upon which to build a house, although it is possible he had resided in the section earlier. The location was given as on a little rise of ground near the bank of the river, at the westernmost bend of the "old bed." This would be near the intersection of the present Clapp Street and Fort Hill Road, and near the present residence of Mrs. Donald War­nock.

In 1664 the Indians had received permission to build one or more forts. One was built near the northerly end of Fort Plain in Easthamp­ton and was occupied until the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675. This was the beginning of a campaign to exterminate or drive out the whites. The Connecticut Valley became a seat of war; a condition which was to continue until the end of the French and Indian wars in 1763.

In 1699 permission to settle at Pascommuck was granted to five fam­ilies: Moses Hutchinson, John Searl, Benoi Jones, Samuel Janes, and Benjamin Janes. The stage was set for "the scene of the County's most tragic experience with the Indians."

"In the evening before the 13th of May 1704 the Indians went upon Mount Tom and observed the situation of the place. As the meadow was then covered by water, they supposed the village could be taken and that no aid could come seasonably from the town on account of the interven­ing flood. A little before daylight the Indians attacked. The people surrendered, and all of the above families were killed or taken prison­ers. Some of the prisoners were afterward rescued by the people from the

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town. Those commanded by Capt. Taylor went around by Pomeroy's meadow and met the Indians near Mount Tom, when a skirmish en­sued, in which Capt. Taylor was killed."

Benjamin Janes had escaped by running into a bushy ravine where he had hidden a canoe and paddling to Northampton to give the alarm.

It is assumed that those who were killed at the massacre of 1704

were buried in what has been identified as the first burial place in East­hampton, on an elevation in a field belonging to Augustus Clapp, and about fifteen rods southwest from his house. The DAR has erected a monument on East Street about opposite No. 132 to commemorate the Pascommuck Massacre, and another on the site of the old ceme­tery.

Compensation for service men and their dependents was not well

organized. Mrs. Taylor petitioned the Legislature for help in 1705; she

was granted £ 12 . Benjamin Janes petitioned in 17°7 because of the great

sufferings and loss he had sustained. Since he had moved to Connecti­

cut, the Governor and Council gave him a brief to beg, "craving the

charity of the good people in Branford, Guilford and Killingworth and

Saybrook."

Water power was of great importance and any convenient site was

utilized as soon as possible. In Easthampton, the Manhan River and Broad Brook, with their tributaries, offered a number of sites which still have their influence upon the town. In 1664 David Wilton, Medad Pom­eroy, and Joseph Taylor were granted permission to establish a saw mill on Saw-Mill Brook, now Bassetts Brook, a little above West Street. Twelve years later Samuel Bartlett received authority to set up a grist mill at the falls of the Manhan, near the site of the dam now owned by the town.

A mill was also established on Broad Brook, just above its junction

with the Manhan River. This was operated as early as 1797 by Bohan Clark and, in the opinion of some writers, was in use at an earlier date.

Its importance to the town should be noted because, through a succes­sion of owners, it passed to Samuel Williston and became part of the Hampton Mills property.

Joseph Parsons and others, in 1685, were voted "liberty to make a cart bridge over the mouth of the Manhan River, provided they dam­nify no man's property." This bridge was near Webb's log cabin, not far from where the meadow road now crosses the stream.
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town. Those commanded by Capt. Taylor went around by Pomeroy's meadow and met the Indians near Mount Tom, when a skirmish en­sued, in which Capt. Taylor was killed."

Benjamin Janes had escaped by running into a bushy ravine where he had hidden a canoe and paddling to Northampton to give the alarm.

It is assumed that those who were killed at the massacre of 1704

were buried in what has been identified as the first burial place in East­hampton, on an elevation in a field belonging to Augustus Clapp, and about fifteen rods southwest from his house. The DAR has erected a monument on East Street about opposite No. 132 to commemorate the Pascommuck Massacre, and another on the site of the old ceme­tery.

Compensation for service men and their dependents was not well

organized. Mrs. Taylor petitioned the Legislature for help in 1705; she

was granted £ 12 . Benjamin Janes petitioned in 17°7 because of the great

sufferings and loss he had sustained. Since he had moved to Connecti­

cut, the Governor and Council gave him a brief to beg, "craving the

charity of the good people in Branford, Guilford and Killingworth and

Saybrook."

Water power was of great importance and any convenient site was

utilized as soon as possible. In Easthampton, the Manhan River and Broad Brook, with their tributaries, offered a number of sites which still have their influence upon the town. In 1664 David Wilton, Medad Pom­eroy, and Joseph Taylor were granted permission to establish a saw mill on Saw-Mill Brook, now Bassetts Brook, a little above West Street. Twelve years later Samuel Bartlett received authority to set up a grist mill at the falls of the Manhan, near the site of the dam now owned by the town.

A mill was also established on Broad Brook, just above its junction

with the Manhan River. This was operated as early as 1797 by Bohan Clark and, in the opinion of some writers, was in use at an earlier date.

Its importance to the town should be noted because, through a succes­sion of owners, it passed to Samuel Williston and became part of the Hampton Mills property.

Joseph Parsons and others, in 1685, were voted "liberty to make a cart bridge over the mouth of the Manhan River, provided they dam­nify no man's property." This bridge was near Webb's log cabin, not far from where the meadow road now crosses the stream.


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THE HAMPSHIRE HISTORY

In 1678 Robert Lyman discovered indications of lead in Loudville,

where the four Hamptons join. A mining company was formed with the

aid of outside capital, but results were not satisfactory. Operations were

resumed from time to time and in 1765 Ethan Allen, later of revolu­

tionary fame, was among the proprietors. Extensive work was done also

in the middle 1800's, but abandoned in 1865.

The earliest settler in the southwest part of the town, "the plain,"

was Sergeant Ebenezer Corse. In 1730 the proprietors of Southampton

granted him additional land near his house, and so it is assumed that he

had settled some time prior to May 25, 1730. His home was near the

present residence of Mrs. Henry M. Taylor at 378 Main Street and in

the rear of Mrs. Taylor's home there is visible a depression in the

ground which is presumed to mark the exact site. We are indebted to Sergeant Corse for our remarkably straight Main Street, which he

cleared to afford an unobstructed view from his house to the center of

the village.

As early as March 10, 1730 the proprietors of Southampton took

steps toward laying out a separate town, which was incorporated July

23, 1741. The new town took territory from Northampton which was

described as follows: "beginning on the south side of Manhan River a

little above Bartlett's House, and so bounded easterly upon the county

road till it extends southwardly unto the dividing line between North­

ampton and Westfield, and then bounded westwardly upon land be­

longing to the province, and bounded northwardly upon the Long, or

West, Division, so called." By this division most of the present town of

Easthampton which lies west of Park Street, and a projection of the

street northward, was transferred to Southampton.

The first school of record in Easthampton was at Pascommuck in

1739. From then on schools appear to have been conducted at that

place and at Bartlett's mills. Teachers were paid six shillings a week, but

more if they lived out of the district. The names of the school districts

were formalized in 1797. Nashawannuck District was bounded on the

south by Manhan River and on the west by Saw-Mill Brook; West Dis­

trict on the south by Manhan River and east by Saw-Mill Brook; Pas­commuck District on the north by Manhan River and the west by Broad

Brook; the Centre District included the rest of the town except a few

families in the southeast part.

Second edition of the Payson Male QUaTtet: H. E. Barnett, George Munn, C. H. Johnson

and William Astill

In the last French and Indian War, 1753-63, several from town were engaged. Eliakim Wright was killed at Lake George in 1755. Lem­uel Lyman was saved from death by his bullet pouch checking a ball which struck him. The pouch was later presented to the museum at the Library. With Quebec's fall, the French and Indian Wars were over,

and "the relief felt on every hand can hardly be imagined now. The long

clogged wheels of enterprise moved again, and settlements that had been forgotten were reclaimed, while new ones were commenced. The ax resounded in the forests, and smiling harvests returned once more to be gathered rejoicingly beneath the reign of peace."

With more settled conditions and the prospects of a brighter fu­

ture came.a desire to establish a separate town. This was partly due to a need to transact local business conveniently, but of more importance was the wish to be able to attend religious services without the neces­

sity of journeying to Northampton.

In 1769 a committee was appointed to consider the question. In


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THE HAMPSHIRE HISTORY

1773 the wish to establish a separate town was expressed in petitions to

Southampton and Northampton. The Northampton people approved

the idea but Southampton objected. The troubles of the American Rev­

olution delayed further action until 1781-82.

After the Revolution, in which many from Easthampton served­

the DAR has identified the graves of 43-the proposal for a new town

was revived. On June 17, 1785 Governor Bowdoin approved the act of

incorporation and Easthampton was set off as a district, which gave it all

the rights of a town except that of a separate representative in the Gen­

eral Court; this privilege it shared with Northampton. Although the

name Easthampton was chosen principally because the other points of

the compass had been used, actually a small part of the town was in the

eastern section of the original Northampton area. Except for minor

changes, the boundaries of the town remain as they were established.

The first meeting of the district was held July 4, 1785 at the dwell­

ing of Capt. Joseph Clapp, when district officers were appointed. The

second meeting was called for July 13, 1785, to be held at the meeting

house frame. Unofficially, the frame of the meeting house had been

started in the spring, in what is now Main Street Park and the second

meeting voted to make use of the frame as a place for public worship.

The meeting voted to compensate those who had started the work, and

to finish the building. This was accomplished in 1792. Town meetings

were held in the building for many years, the last one on August 8, 1833.

The church was formally organized November 17, 1785, but was

withoUt a regular pastor until Rev. Payson Williston accepted a call and

was ordained August 13, 1789. The introductory prayer at the service was by Rev. Enoch Hale of Westhampton, a brother of Nathan Hale of

Revolutionary fame. Mr. Williston's pastorate continued until his re­

tirement in 1833.

Immediately after the Revolution, unsettled conditions led to Shays'

Rebellion. There is no record of Easthampton sympathizers, but a com­pany from the town went to Springfield to oppose the insurgents.

On June 16, 1809, Easthampton was incorporated as a town replac­

ing the district organization. This led to a dispute which will be dis­

cussed later. On July 6, 18.2, when the WVar of 1812 came up for consid­

eration, the town voted "to oppose a war with England." However,

when Boston was threatened, a number of Easthampton people went to

its defense.

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73

With the development of peaceful pursuits came a need for better



transportation; roads had improved but travel was still difficult and un­

satisfactory. In the late 1790'S canals and locks had been built around

the falls at South Hadley and Turners Falls, but much of this section was inaccessible. On December 2, 1 822 the inhabitants of Westfield

approved a petition to construct a canal from the Connecticut River

through Northampton, Easthampton, and Southampton on to West­

field to join one being built from New Haven northward. The project

had a long and difficult history, but in July 1835 the first canal boat from

New Haven passed through Easthampton on its way to Northampton.

The canal entered Easthampton from Northampton on the easterly side of what is now Route 1°, crossed the highway north of the Manhan River and continued a short distance west of the river, crossing the north branch of the Manhan just before it left Easthampton. Portions of the canal can still be seen, particularly from O'Neill Street and at a

point on West Street south of the junction of Manhan River and Bas­

setts Brook. Due to a combination of unfavorable circumstances, the canal failed and operations were suspended in the 1840'S. Railroads

were being developed, and promoters of the canal turned their attention

to this form of transportation.

Growing into maturity was a man who was to have profound and

lasting influence upon Easthampton-Samuel WVilliston, born June 17,

1795, son of Easthampton's first minister. In 1 826 he commenced the

manufacture of covered buttons and soon had a thousand families work­

ing for him in a circle thirty or forty miles distant. From time to time,

his product was improved, and there follows an interesting story, true

or not, about one of these improvements.

"Once upon a time there arrived at the Easthampton parsonage a

clergyman of distinguished presence. . . . Her (Mrs. W.'s) quick eye de­

tected there were on that coat buttons of a different manufacture. She cut off one of those buttons. She picked it apart to learn how it was made, of what material and how put together. Then she carefully remade the button. In the morning the clergyman departed without knowing that he had left a secret behind: the button that filled a long felt want and

promptly put the Willistons on the escalator to good fortune."

On November 12, 18~32, the town voted to build a town house, and

the first meeting was held there Nov'ember 1 1, 1 833.

A new building for the First Church was erected in 1836-37 on the

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THE HAMPSHIRE HISTORY



site presently occupied by the Easthampton Savings Bank. The site of the original church is marked by a plaque attached to a stone post which was part of the Williston Academy fence. On the first Monday of April 184) the town voted to build another hall, and in March) 842 the building was completed. The previous town house was sold to Samuel Williston and moved to Pleasant Street, where it is occupied as a dwell­ing and known as No. ) 6.

In 184) Mr. Williston established Williston Seminary and erected the first building. The school was originally co-educational, a radical departure for the times. In one year 187 ladies were in attendance but the "female department" was discontinued in 1864. The establishment of Williston Seminary developed a need for accommodations for visi­tors, so Mr. Williston built a hotel at the corner of Main and Northamp­ton Streets, a building which we know as Park Apartments.

Mr. Williston and his associates developed mechanical processes for manufacturing buttons and for some years this work was done in Haydenville. In 1847 he constructed the building on Union Street now owned by The National Felt Co. In partnership with Horatio G. Knight he founded S. W~illiston & Co., transferred the machinery from Hayden­ville and commenced the manufacture of buttons in Easthampton.

The Main Street Cemetery was established in ) 845 and bodies were transferred from the Old Centre Burying Ground. The latter had been set apart in 1787 in the vicinity of the present Methodist Church and Town Hall.

In 1848-49 Mr. Williston constructed a building for the manufac­ture of suspender web. In 1852 The Nashawannuck Company was formed to take over the business. In I 853 the company acquired the right to use Goodyear's patent vulcanized rubber in clastic fabrics. They

were the first in the country to successfully use vulcanized rubber in woven goods.

On December 29, 1852 the Payson Congregational Church was or­

ganized and occupied a new building at the corner of Main and Union Streets.

The Glendale Vulcanized Rubber Company was formed in )862 for the manufacture of elastic cord and frills, commencing operations in Glendale Village. In 1864 the company moved to Easthampton and in I 867 the name was changed to The Glendale Elastic Fabrics Com­pany.
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Education leaders salute former Williston Headmaster A. V. Galbraith's 80th birthday: Frank L. Boyden, Deerfield Headmaster; Howard Boardman; PhilliPs Stevens, Williston Headmaster; and Charles Cole, Amherst College President

The Easthampton Rubber Thread Company was formed in 1863 for the production of rubber thread for the elastic fabric business. At one time (1879) it was said the company made seven-eighths of the rub­ber thread used in the United States.


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THE HAMPSHIRE HISTORY

The townspeople responded to the needs of the Civil War period.

About two hundred went into the service, with many casualties. Among

those lost were Maj. Gen. George C. Strong, a graduate of West Point,

who had spent his early years in Easthampton. Another was Charles M.

Rensellear who died at Andersonville prison in 1864. He was the only

colored person from Easthampton to serve and had enlisted as soon as

colored people were accepted. The Town Hall tower, with its tablet,

comprises the memorial to the Easthampton people lost in the conflict.

In 1859 Mr. Williston purchased the water rights where Bohan

Clark had once operated a mill, and commenced work upon a cotton

yarn mill to supply The Nashawannuck Co. This venture was not suc­

cessful, but led to the establishment of a new village and provided the

foundation for the later activities of The West Boylston Mfg. Co. and

the Hampton Company.

The Easthampton Gas Company was organized September 7, 1864,

to operate a business which had been supplying gas to the mills; the

lines were extended to furnish illumination for a series of lectures at

The Payson Church and grew in response to demands for the service.

The First National Bank was organized in 1864 and in 1871 erected

a building which it occupied until a successor building was constructed

at the corner of Main Street and Campus Lane.

Public education took a step forward in 1864 when the districts

were abolished and a town committee took control. A high school, the

present Memorial Building, was dedicated August 29, 1865.

The Methodists commenced to hold services in 1862, and on De­

cember 12, 1866 dedicated their first church building.

The Easthampton Savings Bank was incorporated February 10,

1869, and on July 20, 1870, commenced business in the quarters of the

First National Bank.

In 1866 Mr. Williston gave funds to Williston Seminary to con­

struct North Hall; to make room for it, he had the First Church moved

to a point on Northampton Street opposite the northerly end of the

Main Street Park. The second town hall, built in 1842, was moved to

the First Church and used as a chapel.

In the fall of 1867 the town voted to build a third town hall, the

building presently serving the town. It was completed and dedicated in

June 1869 on "one of the most notable days in the history of the town."
EASTHAMPTON

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The Public Library Association was organized in 1869, succeeding earlier groups, and part of the first floor of the town hall was set apart



for the purpose.

The first church building for the Immaculate Conception Parish

was erected in 1868 on the site of the present structure.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1871 the first trains were run on the

Mount Tom Railroad from Easthampton to Mount Tom Junction. The

road covered three and a half miles and six stations ar..d was said to "ac­commodate travel very much."

On June 9, 1873 the town voted to acquire land for Brookside

Cemetery, which was opened for public inspection November 5, 1873.

In 1881 the Library moved from its rooms in the Town Hall to its

new building between Main, Park, and Center Streets, which it contin­

ues to occupy.

On June 17, 1885 the people of Easthampton proudly celebrated

the one hundredth anniversary of its incorporation with an elaborate

program, supported in part by an appropriation of town funds. A group

of taxpayers brought suit to prevent the use of public funds on the

ground that the town was not incorporated as such until June 16, 1809,

and that observance of the centennial should be postponed until a hun­

dred years from that date. The committee in charge of the celebration

had the courage of its convictions and went ahead with the plans, even­

tually being upheld in the courts.

In 1886 George S. Colton formally organized a business which for some time had produced elastic frills, to be followed by incorporation

in 1910 as the George S. Colton Elastic Web Co.

The Peoples Electric Co., organized in 1 889, installed Easthamp­

ton's first electric street lights.

May 15, 1895 the first electric cars came to Easthampton. The local

paper carried the headline "Sing Ho for the Broomstick Car."

In 1890 the first services of the Trinity Lutheran Church were held

in Easthampton. A building on Chapel Street served until the present

structure was completed in 1949.

The telephone exchange opened December 7, 1895 to serve its 28

subscribers.

A tablet on the front of the Town Hall acknowledges the services

of those who participated in the hostilities between 1898-1902, includ­
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THE HAMPSHIRE HISTORY

ing the Spanish American War, Philippine Islands, Cuba, and "Porto" Rico.

Williston Mills, organized by Mr. Williston to produce cotton yarn, dissolved in 1892. It was succeeded by the Easthampton Spinning Com­pany, which closed in 1899. In June 1899 the Spinning Company prop­erty was acquired by the West Boylston Mfg. Co. The building below the dam, constructed by Mr. Williston, was sold to the Hampton Company interests. Thus was laid the foundation for the extensive op­erations of both companies, which are no longer in business but have left facilities used or usable by others.

In 1904 the parish of Notre Dame du Bon Conseil was organized and built its first church on Union Street, to be succeeded by the pres­ent building on Pleasant Street.

On October 9, 1908 the town appropriated $32,000 as the first step in developing a municipal water system which continues to supply the town and which has recently been enlarged and is continuously being improved.

The Sacred Heart Parish was formed in 1909 with a building at the corner of Franklin Street and Knipfer Avenue. The first burial in its St. Stanislaus Cemetery was in October 1923.

World War I took its toll. Six hundred eighty-seven were listed as going from the town into the armed forces. The monument on the li­brary lawn gives the names and lists those lost during hostilities.

The United Button Co., successor to S. Williston & Co., closed its doors in 1922.

In 1927 The Glendale Elastic Fabrics Co., The George S. Colton Elastic Company, and some out of town companies united to form The United Elastic Corporation, with control of The Easthampton Rubber Thread Co.

In 1935 the town adopted the representative form of government thus making the first change since the original incorporation.

Natural calamities, including the floods of 1927 and 1936, the hur­ricane of 1938, and the flash flood of 1955, created serious problems but these were met in due time by the authorities and excellent community spirit.

The thoughts and energies of the people during the early 1940'S were devoted to World War II and its needs. Fifteen hundred and sixty­
EASTHAMI'TON

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three men and women entered the service. A tablet in commemoration of their service has been placed on the town hall.



The Korean action in ] 95° drew more people into the service of the country.

An outstanding local event was the removal in 1950 of Williston Academy from the "old" campus on Main Street to the new campus, which had been in the process of development on Park Street for many years. Ford Hall had been built in 1917 and the recreation center in

1929.

The old Seminary buildings were removed and replaced by vari­



ous commercial buildings, some of which have been mentioned earlier.

A new high school building, opened in September 1962, provided



a much-needed addition to the excellent public school system.

As we look about, we can see the results of steady progress in the advancement of our school system, streets, utilities, industries, stores and homes, and realize that they are the results of the day-to-day activi­ties and interests of able and willing men and women who have toiled since 1664 to make this a town of which Payson Lyman could write, as he did in 1866: "This thriving town is beautifully situated."


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