The Amherst Historical Society is very pleased to announce the delivery of the historic church bell from the former Second Congregational Church, which is now the JCA. Thanks to the generous donation of time and equipment from Leader Home Centers, and the skill of Jeff the driver/operator, the bell, weighing about 3/4 of a ton, was delivered to the grounds of our Museum on Friday morning around 9AM.
It is late July, and the Museum’s flower garden is in full bloom. We also have a 19th-century quilt in our collection, which was painted with a variety of garden herbs. On September 22, 2017, we were fortunate to feature that quilt in a lecture by a local herbalist, Jade Alicandro Mace, who discussed the 19th century garden herbs, both on the quilt and fresh from our garden, and their nutritional and medicinal uses from ancient times to the present.
Your correspondent has been away from Massachusetts for almost two weeks, so I don’t know if the Juneteenth celebration in Amherst mentioned Newport House – a dormitory building in Amherst College,which was named for the descendant of an enslaved man in Hatfield who sued his owner for his freedom. Apparently there were many such ‘freedom suits’ over the years, and some were successful.
The Pioneer Valley has its own history of free Blacks and of Black slavery –you can read James A Smith’s History of the Black Population ofAmherst and Robert Rohmer’s Slavery in the Connecticut Valley to getsome sense of this facet of our local history.
June 19–‘Juneteenth’–marks the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865,announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas. But when we think of important dates in June, we can also remember that on June 2, 1924, the Snyder Act was signed into law, grantingfull citizenship rights to Native Americans, many of whom had fought in World War I. And even then, Native Americans were not always allowed to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Locally, when we think of Native Americans, remember that the Sioux author and activist Charles Eastman lived in Amherst for many years, starting in 1903. And the Amherst Historical Society is fortunate to have the video of a lecture by Dr Christine DeLucia about her book Memory Lands, describing the Native Americans’ ongoing struggle for recognition.
The Pioneer Valley History Network, the UMass Amherst Public History Program,and the W.E.B. Du Bois Library arepleased to announce a free, one-day virtual seminar launching the community-based research project, Documenting the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley on June 19, 2021 from 9:30am – 1pm.
This community-based research project in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties aims to document the lives of free, enslaved, and formerly enslaved Black residents of the Connecticut River Valley prior to 1900. Participating historical organizations, in collaboration with student and volunteer researchers, will perform a “deep dive” into their relevant holdings and present their findings in a fall capstone event.