The History of Pelham

The History of Pelham

The town of Pelham, Massachusetts, was part of the Equivalent Lands compromise, and was first settled in 1738 by mostly Presbyterian Scotch-Irish immigrants. It was officially incorporated in 1743, so it is older than Amherst by 16 years. It is perhaps best known as the home of Daniel Shays, the Revolutionary War captain who gave his name to Shays’ Rebellion in 1786, but in the 19th century its western slopes were the home of the Montague Fly-Rod Factory and of the Orient Springs Health Spa.

An eastern region of Pelham was annexed by the town of Prescott, and later submerged by the Quabbin Reservoir. 

In the 19th century, the town was home to the Orient Springs health spa and the Montague Fly-fishing Rod Mfg Co., and was a stop on the Amherst electric trolley line.

In the twenty-first century, Pelham holds the distinction of having the oldest town hall in continuous use in the United States.

Join us at noon on Friday, October 22 as Pelham resident Joe Larson tells us more of the stories of our neighboring town.

The Fall 2021 History Bites series is being given over Zoom, with technical support from our friends at Amherst Media.

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New Haven to Northampton Canal

New Haven to Northampton Canal

On Friday, October 8, we hear Mr Robert Madison talk about the New Haven to Northampton Canal.

After the success of the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825, people in several states were seized with the idea of building canals to transport goods. In 1804, Amherst businessmen had already built a short canal on the Connecticut River to circumvent South Hadley Falls, but in 1825 ground was broken on the 80-mile long New Haven to Northampton Canal. The canal was finished in 1835, but by 1848 it was getting competition from the new Connecticut River Railroad.

Author Bob Madison talks about his rails-to-trails book. The Canal Greenway takes the bicyclist or hiker on a historic trip through sixteen towns into the interior of Western New England – – from New Haven, CT to Northampton, MA. His rails-to-trails book is a comprehensive guide which includes trail maps, trailhead descriptions, original watercolor paintings by the author, attractions, distances and a little history of each of the sixteen towns along with the history of the canal and the railroad as the modern rail trail works its way along some 81 trail miles or 87 mile canal length.

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Stories of Amherst

Stories of Amherst

by George Naughton

There can never be one History of Amherst, since there are always more stories to collect and pass on. This week’s presentation is titled ‘Stories of Amherst,’ and will take us on a tour of some of the personalities and events which shaped our town. Did you know that Amherst was founded in the same year, 1759, that the Guinness Brewery was founded in Dublin? We include stories of Amherst’s industrial past, and the connections between Amherst and Japan.

George Naughton is President of the Amherst Historical Society and is a long-time resident of Amherst

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Biography of Edward Hitchcock

Biography of Edward Hitchcock

by Robert McMaster

Edward Hitchcock was one of the most eminent American scientists of his time, a popular professor and president at Amherst College, and an inspired preacher. But, nearly 160 years after his death, his story has never really been told. So in his new book, All the Light Here Comes from Above: The Life and Legacy of Edward Hitchcock, Williamsburg author Robert T. McMaster at last brings to light the many facets of one of this state’s and the nation’s most famous sons.

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Shays’ Rebellion

Shays’ Rebellion

by Dr. Barbara Mathews

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At a time when the survival of the American experiment in government by and for the people was neither destined nor assured, the Massachusetts uprising labeled “Shays’ Rebellion” fueled speculation that the new United States could not survive for long. While most widely known for the bloody confrontation at the United States Arsenal at Springfield in January 1787, the lasting legacy of the Massachusetts Regulators and their sympathizers was in the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution.

Dr. Barbara Mathews is the Public Historian and Director of Academic Programs at Historic Deerfield. She was the content director, historian, and writer for the website From Revolution to Constitution: Shays’ Rebellion & the Making of a Nation, a collaboration among the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Springfield Technical Community College, and the Springfield Armory funded through a We The People grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

DuBois Library Special Collections

DuBois Library Special Collections

by Aaron Rubinstein

“Expanding our great national reservoir of knowledge and intellectual thought:” past, present, and future of the Special Collections at UMass Amherst.

Former Chancellor Randolph Bromery’s ambitious words, written in 1974, presage a transformation of the Special Collections at UMass that began with the acquisition of the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers and blossomed after the arrival of Robert Cox in 2004. The new Head of the Special Collections, Aaron Rubinstein, will discuss the this transformation and how it sets the stage for the future of the department.

Aaron Rubinstein is the Head of the Special Collections and University Archives at UMass Amherst. Aaron grew up in Amherst, graduated from UMass, and has worked in SCUA for over a decade. Before SCUA, he was the Archivist for Digital Collections at Tufts University, and before that Collections Manager at the Yiddish Book Center.

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