Galleries, and the Arts
of Massachusetts at Amherst
and Hampshire College
When faced with a
petition to make Whatley a town, there was no mention of a
name. Massachusetts Governor Hutchinson named the town in
honor of Thomas Whately -- the son of the director of the Bank
of England, who was an ardent horticulture expert and the
first member of his family to become a member of Parliament.
Ironically, the town's namesake never set foot in America,
though, and died a year after Whately was incorporated, never
having formally acknowledged the honor.
Williamsburg is home
to the famous Searsville Bridge, which was built in 1761 as
part of a military highway to facilitate the movement of
troops and equipment to help the Colonists stave off attacks
from the French and Indians.
During the next
century, Williamsburg evolved into a thriving industrial town
dependent upon the aptly named Mill River to power its
sawmill, grist mill, and other manufacturing interests.
Spanning Mill River, the Searsville Bridge and Searsville
village within Williamsburg is named in deference to Nathaniel
Sears, who operated a custom dressing, fulling, and dyeing
mill from 1819 until 1862. The industrial character of the
town forever changed after the Mill River Disaster, a flood on
July 4, 1874 which destroyed not only Searsville but also
several nearby villages.
Although the old
Searsville Bridge -- once known as the Schoolhouse Bridge --
was condemned for safety reasons in the late 1980's, it
reopened in 1999 and has now been commemorated by the
Williamsburg Historical Commission.
This is a town that got
robbed by its own stagecoach.
As the story goes,
Worthington grew up along a stagecoach route, but never received
train service, and that proved detrimental to the town's growth.
By 1810, Worthington's population had reached about 1,400, but
thereafter, it began to dwindle as folks headed west in search of
gold and fertile land. The unreliable and unpleasant service of
the stagecoach made matters even worse, and by 1945, Worthington
could claim only 363 residents. The population finally began to
recover during the 1950's, and today there's about as many people
in Worthington as there was during the little farm community's
|The Five College
Bed & Breakfast Association
P.O. Box 3252, Amherst, MA 01004