April 18, 12:30 PM on the South side of the Town Common
The event began on the town common. Descendants of the town’s founding families came from near and far (Florida, Ohio, Washington, DC!). Each descendant wore a nametag that listed their name, and the name(s) of the founding family they came from. Some people were descended from 11, 12 or 13 of the founders! People were introducing themselves to their very distant cousins, comparing genealogy information, and exchanging email addresses. Everyone then processed down Rt. 9 at 12:45 PM to the Town Hall. At the head of the procession was the Polish American Veteran’s Drum Corps, then a horse drawn wagon from Barry Robert’s Muddy Brook Farm. Those that weren’t riding in the wagon walked behind, down Russell Street. At the town hall, Rev. Sarah Buteux of the First Congregational Church led the group in prayer. Mary Thayer and David Martula, co-chairs of the 350th Committee, welcomed the group and Marla Miller, the Chair of the Hadley Historical Commission spoke, followed by Select Board members Gerry Devine (a member of the Hadley 350th Committee and the organizer of the Founder’s Day event) and Joyce Chunglo. Senator Rosenberg and Representative Scibak rededicated their gift of founding papers to the town. At the Church, a beautiful Founder’s Day cake was cut by the oldest resident in town, Victoria Drabek. There were some displays and a historical slide show on view in the church. The Farm Museum, the Library, the Hadley Historical Society room upstairs above the library, and the Souvenir Shoppe in town hall were open for the afternoon.
Prayer given by the Rev. Sarah Buteux
Dear Lord, God of our mothers and our fathers, in this time of remembrance we come, as have the generations before us, to seek your blessing and to speak your praise. For the richness of this land we call Hadley, for good soil and clean water, for the blessing of sun and shade, mountain and valley, we give you thanks.
We give thanks to you gracious God, for those who built this community from the ground up with their faith and labor and for those who sustain it even now with their loyalty and trust. For those who cleared the fields round us with vision and for those who sow these fields even now with hope, we give you praise. For those who laid the foundations of our churches and our schools, our Town Hall and our library, for those who carry on the work of their ancestors tilling fields and raising stock, and for those who work day in and day out in this community to protect and serve, educate and build, nourish and heal, we ask your blessing.
Come now Sovereign Lord and walk amongst us. Keep our celebrations honest as we recall the past, compassionate as we judge the present, and hopeful as we engage the future.
And may we be mindful, O Lord, of all our blessings; for you have taught us that you will require much from those to whom much is given. Grant that we whom you have called to see so good and Godly a heritage, may extend more abundantly to others what we so richly enjoy here in Hadley, that in serving others we may come to know the glory of serving you. Amen and Amen.
Welcome given by Mary Thayer, co-chair of the Hadley 350th Committee
Welcome to Hadley’s Founder’s Day, as we look back to April 18, 1659, when 59 men committed to leave their established homes in Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor, and move with their families to the wilds of Massachusetts. Today we are grateful to these leaders in their communities for their courage and moral conviction.
We try to imagine what it was like 350 years ago. The only communities in Western Massachusetts at that time were Springfield, settled in 1636 and the trading village of Northampton, settled in 1654. We try to imagine the settlers’ hardships and daily life. And we honor their many descendants who are with us today. It is fitting that our celebration today is on the Town Common, which was first laid out in the 1660s, and at the Town Hall and the First Congregational Church, the founding church of the town.
Also, welcome to Hadley’s ongoing 350th celebration. Throughout this year we are celebrating Hadley’s past and present, and looking into its future. Through the Historical Commission’s lecture series, the events of the Historical Society, our website, hadley350.org and through other 350th events, we are learning about life in Hadley throughout these years.
We learn about the people here before the Europeans came. We learn about life in the 1600s, when all the houses were on West Street. Then about the expansion in the 1720s, as people felt safe to venture outside the protection of the palisades, or fence, around the homes on the street. These children and grandchildren of the original settlers, as well as newcomers from Connecticut, Eastern Massachusetts and other places, ventured east, north and south, still within Hadley. As the population grew in these areas, and a minister of their own could be supported, the hardship of getting to Hadley’s meetinghouse for worship led to precincts being formed. Some of these precincts grew into towns. Hatfield had broken off first in 1670, as the difficulties of crossing the Connecticut River in harsh weather was too great a barrier. South Hadley was incorporated in 1753 and Amherst in 1759.
From Hadley’s 80 square miles in the 1660s, to its 25 square miles now, the towns of Hatfield, South Hadley, Amherst, Granby, Whately, parts of Williamsburg, Belchertown and Sunderland have sprung. Hadley’s celebration of its founding today is also a celebration of the beginnings of these neighboring towns. We welcome the representatives of these towns here with us today.
We learn about life in the 1800s, with the shift of the center of town to Back Street, where we stand now. About the Irish and French Canadian immigrants, and then the Eastern European immigrants towards the end of the century, about the industry and mills in town, and the advent of the railroad.
We learn about life in the 1900s, with the huge transformation in technology, from the advent of the automobile, electricity, trucking, the effects of the growth of UMASS, to the huge expansion of business, to life as we know it today.
In each century, Hadley has remained an agricultural town, has met the challenges of daily life, and has answered calls for war. Other people from across our country, from Asia and other places in the world, have joined the town too. Throughout its 350 years, Hadley has maintained its character, its community and its pride, brought with the Founders.
So please join us as we celebrate this year, we have many events ahead, there is something for everyone. Together we are making this year a truly memorable one.
Welcome given by Marla Miller, co-chair of the Hadley Historical Society and member of the Hadley 350th Committee
Founder’s Day: As co-chair of the Hadley Historical Commission, it is my pleasure to add yet another welcome to today’s festivities, part of a wonderful, year-long celebration of Hadley’s history.
When Gerry Devine first asked me if I would say a few words to help mark this occasion, I could hardly think where to begin. When I first became interested in Hadley’s history, some
twenty years ago now, I was particularly interested in the Revolutionary generations – the women and men whose labor in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries help transform Massachusetts from colony to Commonwealth. Today our focus is drawn still further backward in time, to the first of the English families who found this spot on a bend in the Connecticut River an appealing place to search for faith and fortune in the New World. The documents that will be rededicated today speak powerfully of that generation of migrants looking for a place to call home, just as the Nonotuck people who preceded them, and many other generations of migrants have done in the decades since.
As a historian, I always find documents like these incredibly moving. They remind us of the dedication and energy of other people at other times, and along the way can’t help but inspire us to be dedicated and energetic in our own time. Seeing them today underscores for me how important it is to preserve the artifacts of those stories, from documents like these to the buildings like this beautiful Town Hall, and landscapes like the spectacular Common we’ve come from today. I hope you’ll take some time today to go into the Farm Museum, or the Library and the Hadley Historical Society room upstairs, and pause to appreciate not just the men and women who founded our community, but also the men and women who had the foresight to preserve the documents and artifacts gathered there, the things that afford us these precious glimpses into our town’s past.
And more than that, I hope that these festivities will cause you to give some thought, too, to your own family’s contributions to our Town and its history, and help us preserve more of that story for our own descendents, the people who are going to gather on these very same steps a hundred years from now and wonder what life was life in the 1950s as well as the 1650s, who will continue to wonder about the 17th century founders, as well as their many generations of descendents, and the people who came along later to found other important things, from new communities and neighborhoods to new civic and social organizations to new business enterprises.
Put another way, one great way to honor our founders is to keep preserving the history they helped launch. Ever since I came to Hadley some years ago, I’ve been impressed by the dedication and energy of its citizens on behalf of its history. When I first moved here, it was the tireless efforts of Dorothy Russell that first struck me as remarkable. Since that time I’ve had occasion to witness first-hand how hard people have worked here to preserve Hadley’s legacy, from the Town Hall Exterior Committee—the first committee I had the privilege to serve on in town—to the Hadley Historical Commission, the Cemetery Commission, the Historical Society, the Town Clerk and Library Trustees, the hardworking members of the 350th steering committee, and the ad hoc community of farm families who have organized a steady series of events to celebrate our agricultural heritage. As we honor Hadley’s long history, let’s honor too the many people who have, though the years, contributed to making it, and to preserving it as well.
Who were Hadley’s founders?
Hadley Founding Families (Judd pgs 11 -12)
“At a meeting at Goodman Ward’s house, in Hartford, April 18th, 1659, the company there met engaged themselves under their own hands, or by their deputies, whom they had chosen, to remove themselves and their families out of the jurisdiction of Connecticut into the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts, as may appear in a paper dated the day and year abovesaid. Then names of the engagers are these:” (59 signed the document, *18 of them did not move or stayed just a short time).
Mr. John Russell Junior
|HADLEY’S EARLY SETTLEMENT
ON THE EAST AND WEST SIDES OF THE CONNECTICUT RIVER(Judd pgs 24 and 31)
|Owners of Houselots in the Village on the East Side of the River in 1663:Chileab Smith
Mr. John Russell, Jr.
John Russell, Sr.
|Owners of Houselots in the Village on the West Side of the River in 1668: