Connecticut Valley Venacular

Jonathan Edwards

Long River Winding

Eastern view of Round Hill, Northampton
Eastern view of Round Hill, Northampton.

The above is a representation of Round Hill, an elevation which rises immediately back of the court-house and the central part of the village. It is very regular in its form, and the summit is crowned by a noble grove. A number of elegant residences stand on the side of this elevation, overlooking the village; and from this spot there is a fine prospect of Mount Holyoke and the delightful valley of the Connecticut. The view from which the above engraving was made, was taken standing on the western side of the first Congregational church. The building appearing on the left is the Town School; the Gothic structure on the right is the young Ladies’ Seminary. Round Hill is seen beyond. There arc 5 churches, 3 Congregational, (1 of which is Unitarian.) 1 Episcopal, and 1 Baptist. There is 1 bank, the “Northampton Bank,” with a capital of $200,000. Population, 3,576. Northampton is 91 miles W. of Boston, 72 E. of Albany, 40 N. of Hartford, 22 S. of Greenfield, 17 northerly of Springfield, and 376 from Washington. In 1837, there were 3 woolen mills, 7 sets of machinery; 70,000 yards of cloth were manufactured, valued at $230,000; males employed, 64; females, 60; capital invested, $100,000. There are 2 silk manufactories; value of ribbon and sewing silk manufactured, $40,000; males employed, 20; females, 40; capital invested, $100,000. There is a paper-mill, an air and cupola furnace, and other manufactories of various kinds.

The inhabitants of Northampton appeared to have lived in great harmony with the Indians. In 1664, the Indians requested leave of the people to build themselves a fort within the town; leave was granted, and their fort was erected perhaps about thirty rods from the most populous street. The conditions on which leave was obtained for building their fort were, — that they should not work or game within the town on the Sabbath, nor powaw here or any where else they should not get liquor, nor cider, nor get drunk; nor admit Indians from without the town; nor break down fences, &c. “The Indians,” says Dr. Dwight, were always considered as having a right to dwell and to hunt within the lands which they had sold.“ Although the Indians lived in such close contact with the whites, there is not even a traditionary story of any quarrel between them and the people of Northampton. But after Philip’s war commenced, the inhabitants were in continual danger. 1n 1675, a guard was kept continually; several of the inhabitants had their houses burnt. In King William’s war, in 1690, a fortification was ordered to be run quite round the town. In 1704 a body of French and Indians, numbering, it is supposed, about five hundred, invaded the town, but it appears that the inhabitants were so vigilant and well fortified, that they made no serious attempt upon the place. It appears that one house was fortified in every little neighborhood, so that all the inhabitants might have a Place of refuge near, in case of an attack “These fortifications must have been expensive. Those which were erected around the town, were palisadoes set up in the earth, thrown out of a trench; and must from their great extent have involved an expense scarcely supportable.” The first road to Windsor, their only passage to market, was laid in 1664. The first bridge over Manhan river, a mill stream three miles south of their church, was voted in 1668. At the same time, they paid their taxes at Charlestown first, and afterwards at Boston, in wheat. This was conveyed to Hartford in carts and wagons, and there shipped for Boston. There is one account, only, of their expense in a transaction of this nature recorded. In this instance, they were obliged to pay one third of the cargo for the transportation from Hartford to Charlestown.

During Shays’ insurrection in 1786, after the insurgents had concerted their measures at Hatfield, they assembled to the number of about 1,300, under arms, at Northampton, took possession of the court-house, and. effectually prevented the sitting of the courts as prescribed by law. Upon this violence being committed, the governor issued his proclamation in a feeling and spirited manner upon the officers and citizens, to suppress such treasonable proceedings, but such was the state of things in the commonwealth at this time, that the ill-disposed paid but little attention to this timely measure.

The first minister of Northampton was Eleazer Mather, son of the Rev. Richard Mather, of Dorchester. He was ordained in 1661, and died in 1669, aged 32. Mr. Mather’s health having declined, Rev. Joseph Elliot, in 1662, was invited to settle in the ministry here; he was the second son of Rev. John Elliot, of Roxbury, the celebrated apostle to the Indians; he afterwards settled at Guilford, Con. Rev. Solomon Stoddard was the next minister, was ordained in 1672, and died in 1729. His successor was Jonathan Edwards, the celebrated divine, who was invited in 1726 to assist Mr. Stoddard in the ministry. Mr. Stoddard “possessed probably more influence than any other clergyman in the province, during a period of thirty years. Here he was regarded with a reverence which will scarcely be rendered to any other man. The very savages are said to have felt towards him a peculiar awe. Once, when riding from Northampton to Hatfield, and passing a place called Dewey’s Hole, an ambush of savages lined the road. It is said that a Frenchman, directing his gun towards him, was warned by one of the Indians, who some time before had been among the English, not to fire, ‘because that man was Englishman’s God.’ A similar adventure is said to have befallen him while meditating in an orchard, immediately behind the church in Deerfield, a sermon he was about to preach. These stories, told in Canada, are traditionally asserted to have been brought back by English captives. It was customary for the Canadian savages, after they returned from their excursions, to report their adventures, by way of triumph, to the captives taken in the English colonies. Among the works which Mr. Stoddard his Guide to Christ, and his Safety of appealing in the Righteousness of Christ, have ever been held in respectful estimation.” He published the Doctrine of Instituted Churches, London, 4to, 1700, in which he advanced some sentiments that were not very well received in this country, such as the following: — that the Lord’s table should be accessible to all persons not immoral in their lives, that the power of receiving and censuring members is vested exclusively in the elders of the church, and that synods have power to excommunicate and deliver from church censures.”

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28 Apr 2006