News from the Collection

News from the Collection

Our intern Shannon Feng writes:

I found a pair of handcuffs donated by former Amherst Police Chief William Engelmann in 1949, who was appointed as a policeman in 1927 and was Police Chief from 1949 – 1958. They were a pair of Hiatt made “Irish figure 8” handcuffs that were used exclusively in Britain, particularly by the Royal Irish Constabulary (which was when Ireland was still part of England). Through my research, I became curious about the Amherst Police History during the 20th century as well as its relationship with the town of Amherst.

 

Due to my own background of being Chinese, I am also particularly interested in finding any intersections between the immigrants and the Police.

 

You can help me by talking to me. If you are an immigrant family, I would love to hear your story of how you came here, how you interacted with the earlier settlers, and how you grew into the town. If you have done similar research on Amherst immigrants or the Police, I would love to hear what you found and share your insights. If you have materials such as photographs or objects from the decade it would help me visualize the experience as well.

You may get in touch with Ms Feng through our email, info@amhersthistory.org, or by stopping by the Museum.

 

Finding R H Weakley

Finding R H Weakley

Park Ranger Susan Ashman highlights a Civil War rifle – an 1856 British Enfield used during the Civil War with the initials “R.H. Weakley” carved into the stock. Through in-depth research, she learned about the tragic story of Pvt. Weakley – another soldier who could have been lost to history. Ms Ashman was able to trace Pvt Weakley’s family, and and even to show the rifle to to his great-great-grandnephew.

You may view this presentation, in which she  emphasizes the human stories behind the objects and records, by checking the link here.

Stay tuned for the Summer Concert Series which begins on August 6 on our lawn!

History of Mount Toby Friends Meeting

History of Mount Toby Friends Meeting

Before they found their home in the Mount Toby Meeting House on the Leverett Plain, the local Friends Meeting led a peripatetic existence, with various addresses in Amherst, Pelham, and even Greenfield.  When Francis and Becky Holmes moved to Amherst in 1954 they helped to revive the Meeting, and in 1963 the group broke ground on what would be their permanent home in Leverett.

Longtime members Carol Letson and Becky Holmes tell us the story of the early days of the Friends meeting. You may view their presentation here.

Amherst Juneteenth Observance

Amherst Juneteenth Observance

On Saturday, June 18, the town of Amherst will observe the Juneteenth holiday, celebrating the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and to ensure that all enslaved people were freed.

Amherst’s 2022 celebration will include a heritage walking tour at 11 AM and a jubilee on the Common at noon. The walking tour will begin in Amherst’s West Cemetery where soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment and of the 5th Cavalry, who alerted Texas residents that the Civil War and slavery had ended, are buried. Visitors will stop at the Emily Dickinson house; two other stops include Hope Church, the first Black church in Amherst, and the Goodwin Memorial AME Zion Church. You may find more information on this and related celebrations here.

You may view some of the events from the 2021 observance here.

Virtual Tour of West Cemetery, part 2

Virtual Tour of West Cemetery, part 2

On April 8Bob Drinkwater gave his second presentation on the early graves in Amherst’s West Cemetery. In this presentation, he showed pictures of the graves of many of Amherst’s founding families – the Boltwoods, Kelloggs, Mattoons, Strongs  and others, as well as noting that there are dozens of names and families for whom the graves are not known.

Save the date! At 1 PM on Saturday, June 4, Bob will host a walking tour of West Cemetery in Amherst with John Hanscom so we may visit these graves in person. He recommends that interested persons should view both of his video tours before attending the walking tour of the West Cemetery with the Association of Gravestone Studies.  If you’re planning to attend, please RSVP to Andreaanduruna@hotmail.com.

You may view his 2019 lecture here, and his 2022 lecture here.

UMass Graduation

UMass Graduation

Happy Graduation to all UMass seniors!  We wish you the best of luck in these uncertain times. You may remember that UMass was founded, as Massachusetts Agricultural College, in 1863, when times were even more uncertain. And ‘Mass Aggie’ became Massachusetts State College in 1931, when times were, again, uncertain.

The Massachusetts Agricultural College was founded under the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862; in 2013 WGBY made a film of the history of the land grant colleges in general, and of UMass in particular; you may view their video here. And in 2016 the late Dr Robert Cox gave a talk about diversity in the agricultural college’s early days; you may view the video here