Galleries, and the Arts
of Massachusetts at Amherst
and Hampshire College
A town that was once
saved by an angel ultimately got swept away by a corn farmer.
John Russell, who in
1659, teamed with dissenting members of a Connecticut
congregation to settle what would eventually become Hadley.
Russell's Congregational Church also played a pivotal role in
Hadley's history when in 1675, William Gaffe, an English
refugee hiding from King Charles II, entered the church's
sanctuary on horseback to warn folks of an impending Indian
attack. The seemingly prophetic Gaffe was later dubbed the
Angel of Hadley, a moniker that may be partially attributed to
the white hair and white beard he sported when making his
impromptu visit to Russell's congregation.
Commerce in Hadley
began in earnest when Corn farmer Levi Dickinson came to
Hadley in 1786 with the seeds of a strange new corn whose
tassels he managed to convert into the best brooms anyone in
this neck of the woods had ever seen. Just before the turn of
the century, he launched a most lucrative broom business and
paved the way for broom corn becoming Hadley's number-one crop
for nearly 80 years. Broom corn was finally supplanted, so to
speak, by the rise in popularity of tobacco. The demand for
the unusual corn began to tail off in the 1880's, and by 1920,
Hadley's last broom shop had closed.
Today, Hadley is
better known for its mile-long, history-filled town common,
which is home to 69 historic homes, including one that dates
back to 1713. Scholars claim the town common to be the longest
in all of New England. The common is divided by Russell
Street, honoring the town's first religious leader.
Hatfield is home to the
founder of Smith College, one of the largest and most respected
women's colleges in the world.
Sophia Smith, the Hatfield
native and educational visionary who founded Smith College with
money she inherited at the age of 65, was inducted into the
National Women's Hall of Fame in October 2000. The women's college
was to be an institution "for the higher education of young
women...to furnish for my own sex means and facilities for
education equal to those which are afforded now in our colleges
for young men." Ms. Smith also founded the town's high
school, Smith Academy.
Ironically, Smith, the
fourth of seven children born to Hatfield farmer Joseph Smith,
received little education growing up in the Pioneer Valley. But
she developed a vociferous appetite for poetry, prose, and
journals of literary, social, and political commentary and
ultimately ingratiated herself with as much self-knowledge as
those around her.
This is the home of Wayne
Granger, who despite his past successes as a major league pitcher,
holds the dubious distinction of having served up the only World
Series grand slam ever hit by a pitcher. Granger came up to the
Big Leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals just six years after
starring on the mound for Huntington High School in 1962.
|The Five College
Bed & Breakfast Association
P.O. Box 3252, Amherst, MA 01004