University of Massachusetts

Dickinsons of Amherst

Emly Dickinson


Extracted and edited from “History And Antiquities of Every Town In Massachusetts” by John Warner Barber, 1848.

This town was originally a precinct of Hadley, called “Hadley East or Third Precinct.” It was incorporated as a town in 1759. The first church was organized, and Rev. David Parsons, the first minister, was settled Nov. 7th, 1739; he died in 1781, and was succeeded by his son, Rev. David Parsons, D. D., who was ordained in 1782. “The ministers who belonged to the council which ordained Dr. Parsons, were the Rev. Messrs. Robert Breck, of Springfield, Joseph Ashley, of Sunderland, John Hubbard, of Northfield, Samuel Hopkins, D. D., of Hadley, Roger Newton, D. D. of Greenfield, Simon Backus, of Granby, and Josiah Dana, of Barre.” Dr. Parsons died suddenly at Wethersfield, Con., where his remains were interred. He was succeeded by Rev. Daniel A. Clark, who was settled in 1820, and continued here in the ministry till Aug., 1824. Rev. Royal Washburn next succeeded, and continued his labors here five and a half years, and died in 1833. Rev. Micaiah T. Adam succeeded Mr. Washburn. He is a native of England, and passed a number of years a missionary of the London Missionary Society at Benares, in Hindoostan. Rev. Josiah Bent succeeded Mr. Adam, in 1837.

North-western view of Amherst College

North-western view of Amherst College.

The Second Parish in Amherst was incorporated in 1783. The church was organized. the year previous, and their first minister, Rev. Ichabod Draper, was ordained in 1785. He was succeeded by Rev. Nathan Perkins in 1810. The South Parish was incorporated in 1824. The church was organized in 1824, and Rev. Horace B. Chapin, the first minister, was ordained the following year. The North Parish was incorporated in 1826, and Rev. William W. Hunt was settled as pastor of the church the next year.

The above is a north-western view of the Amherst College buildings, which are four in number, constructed of brick. Three are occupied by students; the one surmounted with a tower is occupied as a chapel, library, and for lecture-rooms. These buildings stand on a commanding eminence, and overlook the valley of the Connecticut to a great extent. “This institution was established in 1821. Its resources were comparatively limited at first, and its success, by some, considered doubtful; but it is now in a highly prosperous state. It has a fund of $50,000, made up of the contributions of individuals. This fund is under the direction of five trustees, chosen by the subscribers; and the interest is annually appropriated towards the support of the college. There are 7 or 8 professors, including the president, 3 or 4 tutors, besides other officers; and from 150 to 200 students. The yearly expenses of a student are from 90 to 118 dollars, including college bills and board. There are three vacations per annum; the first for four weeks from commencement, which takes place the fourth Wednesday in August, the second for six weeks from the fourth Wednesday in December, the third for three weeks from the third Wednesday in May. The number of volumes in the library is 7,000-and upwards, and the terms of admission, and the courses of study, are similar to those of Yale College, Con. The numerous difficulties which Amherst college encountered in its infancy are fresh in the recollection of many persons, as well as the violent opposition which was raised against the application of the trustees for a charter from the general court.”—American Magazine, 1835.

The venerable Noah Webster, LL. D., the author of the American Dictionary of the English Language, was for a time a resident of this town, and was one of the presidents of the board of the Amherst academy. He inaugurated the first president, and delivered an address on the occasion, standing on the north-west corner-stone of the south college. Besides the college, there is in the place an academy, and a seminary, called the “Mount Pleasant Institution.” There are 9 or 10 instructors, and it has acquired celebrity throughout the state.

The village in the vicinity of the college consists of about 75 well-built dwelling-houses, a bank, and other public buildings. Distance, 6 ½ miles to Northampton, 108 from Dartmouth college, N. H., 46 from Hartford, and 82 miles west of Boston. Population, 2,602. In 1837, there were in this town 2 woollen mills, 4 sets of woollen machinery; wool consumed, 39,000 lbs.; cloth manufactured, 62,195 yards, valued at $40,337; males employed, 22 ;females, 30; capital invested, $30,000. Two hat manufactories; value of hats manufactured, $3,600; palm-leaf hats manufactured, 60,000, valued at $12,000; value of carriages manufactured, $100,000; hands employed, 100; capital invested, $30,000; value of joiners’ planes manufactured, $8,000. There were 2 paper mills; stock manufactured, 42 tons; value of paper, $7,000.

The following inscriptions are copied from monuments in the grave-yard in this place:

In memory of the Revd. Mr. David Parsons, first pastor of the church at Amherst, who died Jan. 1, 1781, in the 69 year of his age, and 41st of his ministry. A man of God and faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Rev. 14, 13. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord; yea, saith the Spirit, their works do follow them.

Rev. Royal Washburn, born at Royalton, Vt., Dec. 6, 1797, graduated at Vermont University, 1820, and at the Andover Theological Seminary, 1824, settled as pastor of the first church and parish, Amherst, Jan. 4, 1826, died Jan. 1, 1833. Honored & beloved in the church, having a good report of them without; seeming blameless as the steward of God; in doctrine showing sincerity and sound speech, in practice a pattern of good works; yet lowly of heart, & ascribing all to the grace of God, through Christ; his ministry short, but blessed with joyous fruit; his life as becometh saints; his death fall of peace. Multum diuque desiderabimus.1

Hic jacet corpus sepultum Reverendi Zephaniæ Swift Moore, S. T. D., Collegii Amherstiæ Præsidis. Ille homo ingenioque scientia, atque pietate sincera, præclarus; ac mentis gravitate quoque insigni quum se demittens. Animo et consilio certus, sed tamen mitissimus semperque facilitate permagna, modestus, placabilis, misericordia et fructibus bonis plenus. Non dijudicans, non simulator; discipulis suis veneratus quasi illis pater dilectusque. Maximo omnium desiderio mortem obiit, die XXX Jun., Anno Domini MDCCCXXIII. Ætatis suæ LIII. Hanoveriæ gradum Artium Baccalaurei admissus, anno Domini MDCCXCIII. Ecclesiæ Logecestriensis Pastor annos XIV, Collegii Dartmuthensis linguarum Professor IV, Collegii Gulielmi Præses II. Curatores Collegii Amherstiae hoc saxum ponendum curavere.

[Here lies buried the body of the Reverend Zephaniah Swift Moore, D. D., President of the College at Amherst. He was a man pre-eminent for genius, and science, and sincere piety, as well as greatness of mind and humility. He was firm in his purposes, and yet very mild, easy to be entreated, modest, placable, full of mercy and good works. He was not censorious, and no dissembler. By his pupils he was loved and venerated as a father. To the great grief of all, he died on the 30th of June, in the year of our Lord 1823, and in the 53d year of his age. He received the degree of Bachelor of Arts at Hanover in 1793; he was pastor of the church at Leicester 14 years, Professor of languages at Dartmouth College 4 years, President of Williams College 2 years. The trustees of the college at Amherst have ordered this stone to be erected.]

1 Much and long shall we lament for him.

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