Extracted and edited from “History And Antiquities of Every Town In Massachusetts” by John Warner Barber, 1848.
John Webster and John Russell may be considered as the founders of Hadley. Mr. Webster was a magistrate of Connecticut in 1639, and. was elected governor in 1656, and sustained that office a number of years; Mr. Russell was a minister at Wethersfield, in Connecticut. About the year 1660, there was quite an excitement and controversy in the colony of Connecticut, respecting the qualifications of baptism, church-membership, &c. As the minds of the people could not be united on these subjects, many, in order to enjoy peace and harmony, thought it best to remove, and commence settlements in other places. “The original agreement, or association, for removal, is on record, dated at Hartford, April 18, 1659. John Webster is the first signer, and about 30 names follow. Mr. Russell and his people signed another instrument, and his name, at the head of the list, is followed by about 30 of his congregation. Mr. Russell was installed the first minister of Hadley. He removed to this place in 1659, and Mr. Webster, with three others of his name, it is believed, the same year.” It is stated that these emigrants purchased the whole territory now included in the towns of Hadley, Hatfield, Granby, and Amherst. The Rev. Isaac Chauncy succeeded Mr. Russell, in 1695. The next minister was Rev. Chester Williams, who was ordained colleague pastor in 1740-1; he died. 1753, and was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Hopkins, in 1775. Dr. Hopkins was succeeded by Rev. John Woodbridge, who was ordained colleague in 1810. Rev. John Brown, D. D., the next minister, was installed in 1831. Rev. Ebenezer Brown was installed pastor of the second church in 1835.
Hadley is a fine agricultural town, and the meadows on the banks of the Connecticut River are some of the best in New England. Large quantities of broom-corn are annually raised, and the manufacture of brooms is an important branch of business in this town. The value of brooms manufactured in 1837 was $89,248. There were also 42,300 palm-leaf hats manufactured, valued at $6,768. Connecticut river, between this town and Northampton, winds about in entirely opposite directions, and above Northampton village forms a kind of peninsula. On the isthmus, or neck, of this peninsula, the village of Hadley is situated. It lies mostly on one street, a mile in length, running directly north and south; is sixteen rods in breadth; is nearly a perfect level; is covered, during the summer, with a rich verdure, abuts at both ends on the river; and yields every where a delightful prospect.
The following shows the appearance of the gorge between Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom, as seen, from the south end of the east street in Hadley, looking down the river. Mount Holyoke is seen in the distance, on the left; the mountain house is just discernible on its summit, with the path leading up to it. Mount Tom is seen still farther to the south, on the right of the engraving. “In the beginning of April, (1676,) a number of inhabitants of Hadley, who had gone down the river to Hoccanum, under a small guard, for the purpose of tillage, ventured out some distance from the guard, and a part to the summit of Mount Holyoke, to view the surrounding country from the peak so noted at this day. A party of Indians rushed upon them, and killed two of their number on the mount. Deacon Goodman, having proceeded some distance in a different direction, to view the enclosures of his field, was also killed.”
View from the south end of Hadley Street.
Hadley is situated about 3 miles N. E. of Northampton; it is connected with this town by a covered bridge, which was erected at a considerable expense, being 1,080 feet in length. It is 88 miles W. of Boston, 3 N. W. of Mount Holyoke, and 6 N. of South Hadley. Population 1,805. Incorporated a town in 1661.
Hadley is celebrated as being the place of refuge for Goffe and Whalley, two of the judges of Charles I of England, called by some “the regicides.” Soon after the restoration of monarchy in England, thirty of the judges who condemned king Charles to death were apprehended and executed as traitors. Among those who made their escape, were Goffe and Whalley, who arrived at Boston in 1660. They were gentlemen of worth; their appearance and manners were dignified, commanding universal respect; they were also highly esteemed by the colonists for their unfeigned piety. Whalley had been a lieutenant-general, and Goffe a major-general, in Cromwell’s army. An order for their apprehension, from Charles II, reached New England soon after their arrival. The king’s commissioners, eager to execute this order, compelled the judges to resort to the woods, caves, and other places of concealment; and they would undoubtedly have been taken, had not the colonists secretly aided and assisted them in their concealments. Sometimes they found a refuge in a kind of cave, on West Rock, a mountain, about two miles from New Haven, and at others in the cellars of the houses of their friends; and once they were secreted under a bridge, near New Haven, while their pursuers crossed it on horseback.
“At or about the time the pursuers came to New Haven, and perhaps a little before, to prepare the minds of the people for their reception, the Rev. Mr. Davenport preached publicly from this text: Isaiah xvi. 3,4.—“Take counsel, execute judgment, make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the noonday; hide the outcasts, betray not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler.” This, doubtless, had its effect, and put the whole town upon their guard, and united the people in caution and concealment.
“To show the dexterity of the judges at fencing, the following story is told: That while at Boston, there appeared a fencing-master, who, on a stage erected for the purpose, walked it for several days, challenging and defying any one to play with him at swords; at length, one of the judges, disguised in a rustic dress, holding in one hand a cheese, wrapped in a napkin, for a shield, with a broomstick, whose mop he had besmeared with dirty puddle water as he passed along-thus equipped, he mounted the stage. The fencing-master railed at him for his impudence, asked him what business he had there, and bid him begone. The judge stood his ground, upon which the gladiator made a pass at him with his sword, to drive him off — a rencounter ensued — the judge received the sword into the cheese, and held it until he drew the mop of the broom gently over his mouth, and gave the gentleman a pair of whiskers. He made another pass, and, plunging his sword a second time, it was caught and held in the cheese, whilst the mop was drawn gently over his eyes. At a third hinge, it was again caught and held in the cheese, until the judge had rubbed the broom all over his face. Upon this, the gentleman let fall his small sword, and took up the broad sword. The judge then said, Stop, sir; hitherto, you see, I have only played with you, and not attempted to harm you; but if you come at me now with the broad sword, know that I will certainly take your life.’ The firmness with which he spoke struck the master, who, desisting, exclaimed, Who can you be? You must be either Goffe, Whalley, or the devil; for there was no other man in England that could beat me.’”—Stiles’ History of the Judges.
After about three years and a half weary pilgrimage at New Haven and its vicinity, they, on October 13, 1664, set out for Hadley. Travelling in the night only, probably with a guide, they were undiscovered, and arrived at the house of Mr. Russell, the minister of Hadley, after a journey of about 100 miles. The house of this friendly clergyman, situated on We east side of the main street, near the center of the village, was of two stories, with a kitchen attached, and ingeniously fitted up for the reception of the judges. The east chamber was assigned for their residence, from which a door opened into a closet, back of the chimney, and a secret trap-door communicated with an under closet, from which was a private passage to the cellar, into which it was easy to descend, in case of a search. Here, unknown to the people of Hadley, excepting to a few confidants and the family of Mr. Russell, the judges remained fifteen or sixteen years. The dangerous secret of their concealment was known to Peter Tilton, Esq., whose residence stood on the same side of the street with Mr. Russell’s, about half the distance towards the south end of the village; and here, it is said, the judges occasionally resided. A Mr. Smith, who lived in the northern part of the village, is said to have occasionally admitted the exiles to his house. Mr. Tilton was frequently at Boston, being often a member of the general court from Hadley, and through him donations from their friends in England, and elsewhere, were received by the judges. During his residence in Hadley, Goffe held a correspondence with his wife in England, under a fictitious name. By one of the letters, dated April 2, 1679, it appears that Whalley had died some time previously, at Mr. Russell’s. He was buried in a sort of tomb, formed of mason work, and covered with flags of hewn stone, just without the cellar wall of Mr. Russell’s house; where his bones were found by Mr. Gaylord, who built a house on the spot where Mr. Russell’s was standing, as late as 1794. Soon after the death of Whalley, Goffe left Hadley, and travelled to the southward; after which, no certain information of him can be obtained. There is a tradition, however, that he also died at Hadley, and was buried in the garden or near the house of Mr. Tilton. Not long after the arrival of the two judges at Hadley, Col. John Dixwell, another of the judges, joined them at Mr. Russell’s, and resided there for a while; he afterward settled down at New Haven, Con., under the assumed name of Davids, where he died in 1688-9. It has been conjectured by President Stiles, and others, that the remains of both Goffe and Whalley were interred near those of Dixwell’s, there being monuments near that of Dixwell’s inscribed with the initials of their names.
During Philip’s war, in 1676, Hadley was attacked on the morning of the 12th of June, by about seven hundred Indians. “In the preceding night, they approached the town, laid an ambuscade at the southern extremity, and advanced the main body towards the other, and at day-light the attack was commenced with great spirit; but the English, turning out, received them at the palisades. The Indians gained possession of a house at the north end of the street, and fired a barn, but were in a short time driven hack with loss. The attack was renewed on other points, and the Indians, though warmly opposed, appeared determined on carrying the place; but a discharge of a piece of ordnance checked their fury, and their ambuscade failing of their object, which was to attack the people who might be driven from the village, they drew off. Major Talcott, at Northampton, hearing the attack, hurried on, passed the river, and, joining the Hadley forces, precipitated the Indians into the woods. Only two or three men were lost by the English; the enemy’s was not ascertained.” “When the people were in great consternation, and rallying to oppose the Indians, a man of venerable aspect, differing from the inhabitants in his apparel, appeared, and, assuming command, arrayed them in the best manner for defense, evincing much knowledge of military tactics, and by his advice and example continued to animate the men throughout the attack. When the Indians drew off, the stranger disappeared, and nothing further was heard of him. Who the deliverer was, none could inform or conjecture, but by supposing, as was common at that day, that Hadley had been saved by its guardian angel. It will be recollected that at this time the two judges, Whalley and Goffe, were secreted in the village, at the house of the Rev. Mr. Russell. The supposed angel, then, was no other than Gen. Goffe, who, seeing the village in imminent danger, put all at risk, left his concealment, mixed with the inhabitants, and animated them to a vigorous defense. Whalley, being then superannuated, probably remained in his secluded chamber.”1
The following inscriptions were copied from monuments in the grave-yard in this town:—
Reverend Rvssells Remains, Who First Gathered, And For 33 Years Faithfvlly Governed The Flock Of Christ In Hadley, Til The Cheif Shepherd Svddenly Called Him Off To Recieve His Reward, In The 66 Year Of His Age, Decender 10, 1692.
Rebeckah, Made By God A Meit Help To Mr. John Russell, And Fellow Labourer In Christ’s Work; A. Wise, Vertvovs, Piovs Mother In Israel Lyes Here, In Fvll. Assvrance Of A. Joyfvl Resvrrection. She Died In The 57 Year Of Her Age, November 21, 1688.
To the memory of John Webster, Esq., one of the first settlers of Hartford, in Connecticut, who was many years a magistrate or assistant, afterwards Deputy Governor of that Colony, & in 1659, with three sons, Robert, William Thomas, associated with others in the purchase and settlement of Hadley, where he died in 16652 This monument is erected, in 1818, by his descendant, Noah Webster, of Amherst.
In memory of Mrs. Sarah Marsh, wife of Ebenezer Marsh, who departed this life January ye 31, 1794, in the 66 year of her age.
Prudence is an eveness of soul.
A steady temper, which no cares controul,
No passions ruffle, no desires inflame,
Still constant to itself, & still the same.
Here lies the body of the rev. Isaac Chauncy, pastor of the first church in Hadley, who was of a truly peaceable and catholic spirit, a good scholar, an eloquent orator, an able divine, a lively, pathetic preacher, a burning and shining light in this candlestick, an exemplary christian, an Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile. He departed this life 2 May, A. D. 1745, ætat. 74.
1 Hoyt’s Indian Wars, p. 135.
2 This is an error; it should be 1661.
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