Tag Archives: Lenox History

Shays’ Rebellion – Background

shayshome
Home of Daniel Shays in Pelham, MA (which was destroyed by the flooding of the area creating the Quabbin in the 1930’s) was, like most in this rebellion a yeoman farmer

Western Massachusetts was ground zero for Shays’ Rebellion (1786-1788).  Lenox people and institutions were part of the action.

Not Just Shays; Not Revolution

The way most of us heard it, the revolution after the Revolution accelerated the creation of a new Constitution and the tilt toward a strong central government.  This “revolution” had something for all future historians to look back on:  rural vs. city, wealthy conservatives vs. debt ridden farmers, hard vs. soft currency, and distant government high-handedly ignoring the demands of its citizens.

However, the history of this “revolution” has fostered several long lived misconceptions.

  • Daniel Shays was one of several leaders of a largely spontaneous revolt; it is not clear why his name is attached to the uprising.  The participants frequently called themselves Regulators after a pre-Revolutionary revolt in the Carolinas.
  • “Revolution” is a misnomer in two ways:  (a)the protagonists were not shirtless rabble (most owned their own farms) nor did they abandon rule of law (until it seemed they had no choice), (b)there was a great deal of fear and military preparedness on the part of government conservatives but really only one encounter that could be called a battle.

There is even a case to be made that the triumph of the conservative Boston merchants in this interchange- and the soon to be Federalist central government – was almost a counter revolution.  Not surprisingly, the symbol for the Shaysites was a sprig of evergreen — the traditional symbol of liberty and independence for Massachusetts flags and coins.

Reasons for Shays’ Rebellion

A review of some of the literature on the topic* indicates the reasons include the following.

-We, as a new and only loosely organized nation hadn’t learned how to respond to citizens’ concerns through legislation – and had only limited infrastructure to do so.  Official courts were just beginning to be re-convened.

-The loss of breadwinners (both temporary and permanent), inflation, and lack of military pay had worked tremendous hardship on rural communities that had actively supported the Revolution.

-To make things even worse, as trade picked up, the need for cash increased.  The subsistence farmers of western Massachusetts were still a long way from operating on a cash basis and what cash there was was largely worthless paper currency issued by the Continental Congress or state government during the Revolution War.  Collection of hard currency debt by (mostly Boston) merchants (who had to supply hard currency to trade abroad) accelerated and rippled through a country side severely short on cash and long on debt.

-Objections were raised not only to the fact of debt collection but to the manner of collection.  Typically, in what was still largely a barter economy of farmers producing most of their goods for consumption or local exchange, collection was highly negotiable as to what was collected (e.g. not always hard currency) and how quickly.

-Well, there had been a  Revolution, so the notion of protesting what seemed unfair, had become plausible. The infallibility of distant (whether London or Boston) “betters” was less accepted than it had been before the Revolution.

Protests Started with Actions Against Debt Collection

As early as 1782 (prior to the official end of the war), citizens were raising issues via town meetings and protests to local officials about the uncustomary abruptness in debt collection.  Increasingly town meetings, state government representatives and county conventions were petitioned to  ask for the use of paper current,  suspension of debt collection or at least return to practices more consistent with past agrarian custom.

In February 1782, a mob of three hundred  tried to obstruct the proceedings of the Court of Common Pleas in Pittsfield (Berkshire County court met in Pittsfield and Great Barrington until Lenox was selected as the county seat.).  Later that year, Berkshire County farmers stopped the repossession of a team of oxen for debt.  It was just the beginning.

Action and Reaction

09_shays_rebellion
800 Close Court at Great Barrington in September 1786

By 1786 farmers were at the end of their rope and the protests started becoming more militant.  Almost 1500 stopped the Court of Common Pleas on August 29, 1786 in Northampton.  Similar actions took place elsewhere in Massachusetts including 800 Berkshire Regulators who closed down the court in Great Barrington in September (Lenox had been named the new location for court in 1782 but court sessions were still in Great Barrington).  The cause directly cited was retailers seeking immediate payment in specie.

The protestors locked up the judges until three (Whiting, Barker and Goodrich meeting at Whiting’s house) signed an agreement that they would not meet until revisions had been made to the state constitution.

The Great Barrington protest was a case of history repeating itself, since these Great Barrington courts had been closed in 1774 in protest of judges appointed by the royal government in Boston…effectively starting the Revolution in the Berkshires.

Soon to be Federalist and Revolutionary War hero, Major General John Paterson, spoke up for patience and non-violence in a Lenox convention in August and led the state militia to protect the courts in September.  Paterson decidedly represented the conservative faction and it is (Szatmary, p. 81) reported that when he marched into Great Barrington many of those in his militia forces refused to fight their protesting comrades.

Other leaders of the  pro government faction included names that continued to appear in the early Federalist history of Lenox and Berkshire County:

Theodore Sedgewick

Joshua Danforth

Simeon Learned

Erastus Sargeant

Ebenezer Williams

Azairah Egleston

William Walker

Caleb Hyde

David Ingersoll

 

Protests continued and in early October over 200 Regulators again closed the court in Berkshire County.

The rebellion had no formal organization but that was of limited importance since most of the actions were taken by close-knit neighbors and kin.  In Berkshire County, the Looses, Nobles and Dodges of Egremont helped stop the court in Great Barrington joined by Issac Van Burgh and his son Issac, Jr., brothers Enoch and Stephen Meachum, and Moses Hubbard an his three sons of Sheffield.  The Loveland and Morse families of Tyringham also sided with the Shaysites (Shay’s Rebellion, David Szatmary, p. 62).

*******

The Life of John Paterson:  Major General In The Revolutionary Army, by Thomas Egleston, G.P Putnam’s Sons, New York, NY, 1894

Shays’ Rebellion and the Constitution in American History, by Mary E. Hull, Onslow Publishers, Inc., Berkley Heights, NJ, 2000

Shay’s Rebellion The American Revolution’s Final Battle, by Leonard L. Richards, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2002

Shays’ Rebellion The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, by David P. Szatmary, The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church on the Hill Early Members

169 Main St., Church on the Hill - 1805
169 Main St., Church on the Hill – 1805

The current beautiful Church on the Hill building was dedicated in 1806, replacing an earlier meeting house.  In 1906 a centennial celebration was held and the Hon. Francis W. Rockwell described the men who had been members of the congregation up to 1806.

Early Members Recognized in Dedication Centennial

At the time of the dedication of the new building in 1806 there had been 205 members, 89 men.  Many of them were active in early town business and records suggest 61 of the early members were living in 1806.  Nineteen or more were in Lenox in 1774 and signed the Non-Importation Agreement.  At least 15 served in the militia active in the defense of Boston and the Battle of Saratoga.  The initial members and the information available on them(from Centennial Anniversary of the Dedication of the Old Church on the Hill) in the Church Centennial history follow.  The tidbits of information paint a picture of a patriotic, peripatetic and ambitious town founders.

  1. David Allen lived near the River Lot 19, First Division.
  2. William Andrus sold 50 acres on Williams’ Grant east of Stockbridge in 1774 (west part of Lenox).
  3. Jacob Bacon, who was thought to have moved early on to Lanesborough,  was said to have been the first person to clear land in the north part of town (“on a hill west of the county road”).
  4. Joseph Baker was admitted to the church in 1784.
  5. Elisha Bangs* was in the army and was an ancestry of the Bangs family – numerous in Lenox at the time of the Centennial.
  6. Thomas Bateman* served in the army and moved to Vermont in 1798. He lived near Russell Hines near New Lenox.
  7. Thomas Benedict* was in the army.
  8. Amos Benton* left Lenox in 1793.
  9. David Bosworth, Jr. was admitted to the church in 1794.
  10. David Justus Chapin’s house burned in 1803 killing two of his children.
  11. Deacon Elisha Coan lived just over the line in Stockbridge.
  12. Jacob Coan was admitted to the church in 1773.
  13. Lemuel Collins* (lived in the west part of town) was the father of Dr. Daniel Collins and some of the Beldens.  Under the pre-US Royal government he was a lieutenant in the Berkshire militia in 1771.
  14. Oliver Collins lived in Lee and Stockbridge.
  15. Josiah Curtis (James Porter & Co.)
  16. Thomas S. Curtis was with James Porter & Co. (saw mill on the Housatonic in Lee) and lived on the George Munson farm opposite the Bartlett Farm.
  17. Zephaniah Davis came from Hebron, CT and bought land in Lenox in 1803.
  18. Zephaniah Davis, Jr. bought 80 acres in 1806 on the north of the highway leading from the meeting house to East Street.
  19. Joseph Denham lived on the highway from the meeting house to East Street on the north side.
  20. Edmond Dewey lived on what was known in 1906 as the Mahanna Farm.
  21. Jacob Ellis was admitted to the church in 1799.
  22. Daniel Fellows lived near and north of the Meeting House (COH).
  23. Nathan Foot was admitted to the church in 1772.
  24. Ichabod Ford, Jr. lived on the road leading from the county road to Lenox Furnace near Patrick Plunkett.
  25. Jonathan Foster came from Wallingford, CT and was a lieutenant in the army. He and Samuel Foster lived on the Pittsfield Rd.
  26. Allen Goodrich* came from Pittsfield, served in the war and moved to New York state.
  27. Samuel Goodrich* was a merchant in 1773-74 and was a licensed inn-holder in 1781-82 and was in the Revolutionary War as a lieutenant and captain in the militia.
  28. John Gray*, son of Capt. Edward Gray* moved to Dorset, VT where he died in 1817.
  29. James Guthrie* lived near what was, in 1906, the Delafield Farm, was in the war and became a Universalist (horrors).
  30. Isaac Hamlin came from Sharon, CT and was an ancestor of Chauncey Sears.
  31. William Handy was admitted to the church in 1793.
  32. Jonathan Hinsdale* – thought to be first settler in Lenox
  33. Gordon Hollister* lived in the northwest part of town.
  34. Deacon Gordon Hollister, Jr. lived on Stock Street and married a daughter of Enos Stone.
  35. Enoch Hoskins (Haskins) was also a soldier.
  36. Zadock Hubbard owned part of Bartlett Farm (East St.) and built the rear of the house about 1800.
  37. Deacon Nathan Isbell lived in the East St. house built in 1798 by his father as of Noah’s death in 1801.  He furnished a room in the second story called “the lecture room,” which was used for neighborhood prayer meetings.
  38. Noah Isbell, came from Salisbury CT in 1770 and was an ancestor of Deacon Isbell.  He lived on the corner of what is now East and Housatonic Streets on land owned in 1906 by F. Augustus Schmerhorn.  Noah first built a log house and in 1798 built the house where Samuel Howes lived at one time.  At the time of its construction, it was one of the largest and best houses on East. St.
  39. John Ives lived on the road from the meeting house to Rev. Samuel Munson’s (modern day Main St.? modern day Cliffwood?)
  40. Uriah Judd came from Pittsfield and was the grandfather of George U. Judd.
  41. Daniel Keeler* came from Ridgefield, CT in 1773, lived on East Street and moved to Manlius, NY in about 1790.
  42. Lot Keeler and his wife are noted as dismissed in 1795; not record of their admission.
  43. Olin Landers was admitted in 1786.
  44. Thomas Landers* was one of the first settlers coming from Kent, CT to Stockbridge.  He was a short time in the army and lived near Lenox Dale. (described in 1906 as south of the Sedgwick School House?)
  45. Josiah Lee, whose daughter married Major General John Patterson*, came from New Britain, CT and later moved to New York state.
  46. Dr. Eldad Lewis, a surgeon in the army, was in Lenox by 1776.  He published the first Lenox newspaper (“The Lenox Watch Light,”), drew the earliest map we have of Lenox (1792), gave a eulogy on Washington  in 1800 (he was a strong federalist), and wrote a hymn for the new church building dedication.  He lived on Cliffwood St.
  47. Andrew Loomis lived on the Shattuck property on the old road which ran westerly.
  48. William Lusk came from Wethersfield in 1767 to Richmond and Stockbridge.
  49. Edward Martindale lived in the northwest part of town.
  50. Deacon Charles Mattoon* came from Waterbury, CT in 1768 and served in the Revolutionary war.
  51. Joseph Merwin, in 1775, sold 25 acres in lot 18 in the 2nd division to Stephen Merwin.
  52. Peter B. Messenger was admitted to the church in 1786.
  53. Allen Metcalf lived on Bartlett Farm (East St.) and built the front part of the Bartlett House.  He had “The Coffee House” for a time
  54. Josiah Newell lived on the Bourne Farm.
  55. Abraham Northrup* died in 1798.
  56. Job Northrup lived near Scott’s Pond.
  57. David Osborn was a clockmaker and lived in the village.
  58. Rev. Jeremiah Osborn was pastor in the states of New York and Ohio from 1806 to 1839.
  59. Josiah Osborn was, in 1807, associated with the James Porter & Co. saw mill on the Housatonic River in Lee.
  60. Elisha Perkins sold land in Stockbridge in 1779.
  61. Eldad Post came to Lenox in 1803.  A prominent man, he was the father of the Hon. Thomas Post.
  62. James Richards* was in Lenox as early as 1764 (and is noted as living in the village), was buried in his farm (smallpox) in 1777. He is also described as living on the road west of Cliffwood St.
  63. John Robinson was first at Stockbridge, then in Lenox living near the Furnace.
  64. Thomas Rockwell, son-in-law of John Whitlock, bought John Whitlock’s coffee house in 1790 and sold it in 1793. He first settled on what, in 1906, was known as the Bartlett Farm on East St.
  65. Joseph Rogers had two acres on East Street next to Philip Sears and Titus Parker* above Yokun Brook.
  66. Issac Sears, born about 1765 lived on East Street and  bought the hotel property from Enos Blossom in 1799 and sold it in 1802.  His wife died in Lenox in 1799.
  67. Issac Smith lived in a northeast part of Stockbridge that came over the Lenox line.
  68. Jonathan Smith and his wife Rebecca were admitted by letter from Ashfield in 1799.  They are marked as dismissed in 1811 to join certain members of the church at Lee who were about to remove to Ohio. (Another Jonathan Smith is shown as admitted in 1803; both are recorded as dismissed in 1811.)
  69. Amos Stanley* came from West Hartford, CT about 1765, was an ancestor of John and Orrilla Stanley, was one of the first selectmen, was a deacon in the church as of 1785 and died in 1811.
  70. Thomas Steel* came to Lenox about 1767 and settled near Jacob Bacon.
  71. Enos Stone was born in Litchfield, CT and is thought to have come to Lenox as early as 1770.  He was a captain in the 12th Mass. Regiment in the Revolutionary War and was captured and imprisoned in Hubbardton, VT in January 1777. He had land in Brighton (now Rochester) NY, his son Enos Stone being one of the pioneers there.  He kept his residence in Lenox (on Stockbridge Street) until the spring of 1815 when he moved to Rochester and died there that year.  His daughter Mary married Deacon Gordon Hollister, Jr.
  72. Deacon John Stoughton, Jr.  (known as “Deacon” before coming to Lenox) came to Lenox about 1779 and moved to Troy, NY where he died. He owned a farm on Bourne Road and was magistrate in Lenox.
  73. Jonathan Taylor lived, in 1802, on the north line of Stockbridge (described in 1906 as south of Depot Road)..
  74. Abidjah Tomlin lived in Lee near the Lenox line near what is described in 1906 as below the Porter corner as well as Moses Way.
  75. Thomas Tracey* was first a member of the church at Pittsfield.  A soldier of the Revolution, he died of small pox contracted in the service and was buried at his farm in 1776.
  76. Timothy Treat lived in the northwest part of the town.
  77. Deacon James Wadsworth lived, at one time, in the village where Henry Sedgwick lived at the time of the Centennial celebration.
  78. William Walker was a Revolutionary war veteran, Judge of Probate in Berkshire County until he resigned in 1840 and his son William P. Walker assumed the post.  He was an investor in Lenox Furnace and other important commercial ventures.
  79. Moses Way (with Abner Way) sold 40 acres in the Hopkins Grant to Timothy Way* in 1786.
  80. Stephen Wells lived in the village.
  81. Deacon Stephen Wells, Jr. was a partner of Rudolphos Colton, a cabinet maker and lived in the village.
  82. Daniel West was a tanner who lived near the Congregational parsonage.
  83. Rev. Elisha Yale, D.D. was born in Lee in 1780 and joined the church October 20, 1799 He died in 1853 and was the pastor an Kingsborough, NY for more than 48 years.
  84. Thomas Yale came from Meriden, CT about 1778.

*signed the Non Importation Agreement

Trinity Church – Building in the 19th Century

first-trinity_new
First Trinity Church 1818 – Copy of a Watercolor done in 1877 by Georgiana Sargent

The First Trinity Church

By 1818 the Lenox Anglican community had finally amassed the funds to complete its first church.  It was in the center of the village at 33 Church Street.

It was consecrated Sept. 7, 1818 by Bishop Alexander Viets Griswold. The bishop was a nephew of the first Anglican priest to visit Lenox, Roger Viets (probably 1763).

The white wooden church was described as Gothic Revival or Carpenter Gothic.  The stylistic indicators include the window shape and the steeple parapets.  This may have been an early example of the style  common in New England  in the 1830-1850 period.

In 1873 a new chancel and transepts were added.

When the new Trinity Church was built at Walker and Kemble, the old church building was purchased by parishioner L.C. Peters and stands (without its spire) on Church St. today.

Trinity became the legal name of the congregation in 1918 but there is reference to “Trinity Church” in the 1819 vestry records.

Despite the Lovely New Church the Congregation Dwindled

The consecration must have had some interesting interpersonal chemistry since the rector at the time, Samuel Griswold was the brother of Bishop Griswold and was dismissed ten days later!

After Rev. Griswold’s departure, only one dedicated Lenox rector for (1840-1844-Rev. George Waters) is listed in John Allen Gable’s history.  For the rest of the time, services were shared with other parishes and revenue was supplemented by the missionary society.

In 1832 only 18 adult members were listed. and by 1850 services were only held occasionally.  The absence of a regular rector certainly contributed to the fall off in membership but undoubtedly was not the only factor.  During the first half of the 19th century, new Episcopal parishes proliferated.  Ironically, they included  (Pittsfield, Stockbridge, Otis and others) towns that had spun off from early worship in Lenox.  At that time the pulpit at Church on the Hill was manned by the very popular Rev. Shephard.  Also, it was the era of revivals and new sects to the area — including the addition of a Methodist church that was established down the street on the now aptly named Church St.

As with many churches then and now, the flame was kept burning by a few dedicated volunteers.  One, Debby Hewes Quincy, is singled out with a plaque in the current Trinity Church.

Several other factors contributed to turning things around for the little Trinity congregation.  Bishop Manton Eastburn wanted a strong priest in Lenox to turn back the tide of Unitarianism.  Also, train service was now available and the early generation of wealthy summer visitors (frequently Episcopalians from New York) had started to arrive.  Finally, a popular priest, Thomas Pynchon led the congregation from 1850-1854.  A quote from Charles Palmer’s early history of Trinity paints a picture of his interaction with a particularly demanding visitor:

“As he went out of the church he (Mr. Pynchon)saw a figure seated on the steps.  It arose as he approached, and shaking a forefinger at him said in a very deep and impressive voice: ‘Your music is execrable, execrable!  If you will have the organ sent to Pittsfield for repairs and tuning, I will pay for it.’  The seated figure was Miss Fanny Kemble.  She became a regular attendant at the services, a liberal contributor, and a warm personal friend of Mr. Pynchon.”

Despite the popularity of Mr. Pynchon and several other well thought of but short term priests (Rev. William Henry Brooks, Rev. Henry Albert Yardley), the Lenox continued to struggle and Lenox again required missionary aid.

GN_II_00044B
Rectory During the Field Era – on Stockbridge Road

The full potential of the resident and visiting Anglican congregation was achieved under the leadership of the long-serving Rev. Justin Field who was rector 1862-1890.

Construction of New Trinity Church, Rectory and Chapel

1427132890_image30
Col. Richard Tylden Auchmuty (1821-1893) Lived at The Dormers in Lenox

The first official mention of a new church building is found in 1882.  The building effort was led by architect, philanthropist and church warden Colonel Richard Tylden Auchmuty.

The church purchased the triangle formed by Kemble and Walker (known as Lyman’s corner – for – according to maps of the time  – the location of the Lyman’s residence/ store).

88 Walker St. Trinity Episcopal Church
The Handsome Result of McKim, Auchmuty, et al Design Was Completed in 1888

The building committee hired McKim, Mead and White and, like any other self respecting church committee proceeded to dabble. Five designs later the very handsome result reflect some McKim, some Auchmuty and some Renwick (a friend and associate of Auchmuty’s).

20_Chester_Arthur_3x4
Former President, Chester A. Arthur, Laid the Cornerstone for the New Stone Church in 1885

The cornerstone was laid September 8, 1885 by former President Chester A. Arthur.  Arthur’s Secretary of State, Theodore Frelinghuysen from New Jersey had built the lovely Georgian “cottage” across the street in 1881.  A plaque honoring the 21st President stands in Trinity today.

The new church was consecrated June 19, 1888 and was filled with Tiffany windows and other elaborate furnishings donated by a who’s who of wealthy summer visitors.

The church interior as of 2016 reflects substantial additional decoration and re-staining in the 1920’s

Undeterred by having spent three times their budget on the church, the parishioners proceeded to construct a handsome rectory in 1892 and a chapel in 1896.

88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Rectory
88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Rectory, 1892
88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Church Parish House - 1896
88 Walker St., Trinity Episcopal Church Parish House – 1896

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At last the wealthy visitors had a place of worship consistent with their gilded age “cottages.”

St. Helena’s

sthelenaschurch
St. Helena’s Chapel, New Lenox, 1893

Originally called the Union Chapel, the New Lenox Episcopal Church was completed in 1893.  Later called St. Helena’s, it was donated by John E. Parsons in honor of his daughter, Helen Reed Parsons.

Mr. Rathbun is referenced as the architect in a Pittsfield Sun article.  Mr. Rathbun was also thought to be the architect of the Church on the Hill Chapel on Main St.

In the then thinly settled New Lenox, the chapel’s use was highly ecumenical with Rev. Grosvenor conducting services two Sundays a month, the Methodists on another and the Baptists on a fourth.

St. Helena’s remained a part of Trinity Church until 1980 when it was established as a separate parish.  The two churches have just completed an agreement (2016) to share services.

Trinity Rectors 1801-1895

Samuel Griswold (1801-1818)

(1819-1820 – Rev. George Thomas Chapman served Lenox, Lanesborough and Great Barrington)

Aaron Humphrey (1820-1825)-one Sunday a month, the rest of the time in Lanesborough

Benjamin C.C. Parker (1826-1832) – also Otis

Samuel P. Parker (1834-1836) – also Stockbridge

(1836 Rev. Mr. Walcott of Stockbridge conducted services in Lenox)

George Waters (1840-1844)

(1845 Rev. George Thomas Chapman – again conducted some services in Lenox)

Samuel T. Carpenter (1846-1847)-of Van Deusenville – one Sunday a month in Lenox

F.A. Foxcraft (1848-1849) – of Van Deusenville – conducted some services in Lenox

Thomas Ruggles Pynchon (1850-1854)

William Henry Brooks (1855-1856)

Samuel P. Parker (1857-1859) – also Stockbridge

Jesse A. Penman (1859-1861)  Samuel Parker’s assistant

Henry A. Yardley (1861-1862)

Justin Field (1862-1890)

William Mercer Grosvenor (1890-1895)

__________________

Sources of Information

History of Trinity Church, Lenox, Massachusetts, 1763-1895 by Rev. Charles J. Palmer, John Wilson and Sons University Press, Cambridge, 1895

The Goodness That Doth Crown Our Days, A History of Trinity Parish by John Allen Gable, Lamb Printing, North Adams, MA, 1993

 

St. Ann’s

Today (2016), St. Ann’s is the largest church in Lenox.  But Catholic settlers were few and far between in the early days.  John Grace who bought land in north Lenox in 1783 is noted as a Catholic.  It’s not clear how we know that but perhaps it is because he applied for exemption from the requirement to pay tax (required in those days) toward support of the Congregational church.

An early Catholic of some notoriety, Patrick Plunkett, worked as gardener for the important town founder and county judge, William Walker.  He came to Lenox in 1794 when it was experiencing one of its early building booms.  As many immigrants who came later would do, he rapidly moved from personal service to the wealthy to being a contractor.  He and his wife Mary Robinson Plunkett provided a launch point for other Irish immigrants who started coming to Lenox and his descendants became major manufacturers in Pittsfield, Adams and Lee. There were no nearby Catholic churches and the Plunkers and other loyal Catholics went to Albany or Hudson for religious services.  He bought Levi Glezen’s home in 1830 and died in 1839.

The pace of Irish immigration picked up through the 1840’s – both because of conditions in Ireland and because of work opportunities in Lenox.  The Housatonic River drove sawmills and iron furnaces and ore had been discovered under Lenox and Richmond.  Servants were needed to take care of the visitors to Lenox courts (now the county seat) as well as laborers to staff the mills and mines.

Growth in the Catholic Population

By 1846 there were 12 or more Catholic families in town and they convinced Father Brady of Cabotsville (Chicopee) to come to Lenox to say Mass.  Services were held in the home of William Gorman who lived on what is now Housatonic Street (near Orbed Road).  Father Brady or Father O’Cavannagh (from Pittsfield) continued to visit and hold Mass in Gorman’s home or in the home of his daughter Bridget Gorman Mahanna.

On the Sundays when no priest came to Lenox, the Catholic flock went to Lee, Great Barrington or other towns where Mass was being said.

Father Cuddihy organized Lenox as a mission for Pittsfield in 1852 and said Mass as frequently as he could in Mrs. Mahanna’s home, the Academy building, or the town hall (old courthouse).

By 1856, services got closer with Lee being made a parish with Lenox now a mission for Lee.  From that time, Lenox Catholics worshiped once a month in Lenox at the town hall.  In 1864, Father Brennan, the Lee priest, started holding Sunday School in the town hall.  Wealthy convert Grace Sedgwick had already started conducting catechism classes in her home.

A Church for Lenox

The first step toward having a Lenox domicile – even if still a mission of Lee rather than its own parish – was to purchase property.  With the assistance of Miss Sedgwick, Father Brennan purchased property on Walker that was later exchanged for the current Main St. property.

old St. Ann's Church_NEW
The Original St. Ann’s Completed in 1870

Through the generosity of the town’s Catholics and others, Lenox finally had its own Catholic church in 1870.

In 1885, the northern part of town was annexed to the parish of Lenox so St. Ann’s now covered the entire town.

In 1891 St. Ann’s became a parish with Father William J. Dower as the first resident pastor.  Father Dower was active in town activities and fund raising for the parish.

Catholic Cemetery

Near the Gorman cottage where early services had been held, a large tract was purchased from the Washburn estate in 1888.  William Mahanna, Bridget’s grandson, assisted in obtaining the property and having it set up as a cemetery.

New Building to Accommodate Growing Parish

20150709__p_EAG-L-STANNSFEST~1_500
St. Vincent de Paul, Lenox Dale

By 1903 the congregation had grown to 1100 (1500 in summer).  The next priest, Father William F. Grace went to work on a church at Lenoxdale. St. Vincent de Paul was dedicated in 1904 and became an independent parish in 1912.

The Willows as of 1884
The Willows Was Added to St. Ann’s Property in 1907

In 1907 the frontage of the St. Ann Main St. location was expanded by purchasing the Willows, a summer rental property.

In 1912 Father Grace started using the Willows as a rectory. (Later the property at 134 Main became the rectory).

On August 26 that same year, the new St. Ann’s, standing today, was completed.

134 Main St., St. Ann's Rectory - c. 1880
134 Main St., St. Ann’s Rectory – c. 1880
132 Main St., St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church - 1911
132 Main St., St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church – 1911

 

 

The Sedgwicks of Lenox

The Sedgwicks of Lenox set a flavor for 19th century Lenox that lingers to this day, so it is worth reviewing who they were and why they had the influence they had.

Thought of as a Stockbridge Family

245px-TheodoreSedgwick
1808 Portrait of Theodore Sedgwick by Gilbert Stuart

One of the earliest Berkshire Sedgwicks and one of the most famous was Theodore Sedgwick (1746 – 1813).  Theodore was born in West Hartford, a descendant of Major General Robert Sedgwick who arrived in Massachusetts in 1636 — part of the Great Migration.

He graduated from Yale in 1766 and began practicing law in Sheffield.  His career paralleled that of Major General John Paterson and other local Revolutionary War greats in that he participated in the Stockbridge Congress (1774), participated in the expedition to Canada, fought in the Battle of White Plains and was brought back into the fray during Shays Rebellion.  As a matter of fact he was famous enough and wealthy enough by that time for his home to be the scene of a raid.

Mumbet, Elizabeth Freeman, 1744-1829
Mumbet, Elizabeth Freeman, 1744-1829

Theodore went on to a distinguished political and judicial career, but he his most remembered for his defense of Mumbet (Elizabeth Freeman).  She was being mistreated by her mistress and was hearing all this talk of freedom so she came to Theodore Sedgwick to see if she could get her freedom.  He won the case and it was determined that slavery was inconsistent with the just passed (1780) Massachusetts Constitution (which would be somewhat of a model for the national constitution).

Additional Sources of Fame for the Sedgwick Family

In addition to being a brave soldier and an outstanding jurist, Theodore Sedgwick had the wit to produce nine children — six of whom lived to adulthood.  And yes, Kyra Sedgwick is a descendant.

The Sedgwick Pie - With Descendants Encircling Theodore and Pamela
The Sedgwick Pie – With Descendants Encircling Theodore and Pamela

With a large and distinguished family you get to have your own section of the Stockbridge cemetery – and get buried as close to the founder as your distinction and bloodlines allow. The children were all the issue of his second marriage to Pamela Dwight.  Pamela was the product of a distinguished lineage also — the daughter of Brigadier General Joseph Dwight and the widow – Abigail Williams Sargent.

Theodore’s Children

The seven children that lived to adulthood were:

  • Elizabeth Mason Sedgwick (1775-1827)
  • Frances Pamela Sedgwick (1778-1827)
  • Theodore Sedgwick II (1780-1839)
  • Henry Dwight Sedgwick (1785-1831)
  • Robert Sedgwick (1787-1804) who was a lawyer in New York. He married Elizabeth Dana Ellery, grand-daughter of William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1876)
  • Charles Sedgwick (1791-1856)
Charles Sedgwick and his friend Judge Henry Bishop
Charles Sedgwick and his friend Judge Rockwell-

The last two – Charles in particular – became the Lenox Sedgwicks.  Lenox had become the county seat in 1784 and Charles got a job as Clerk of the County Court in 1821.  By this time his sister, Catherine, was a famous author.  Although she described Lenox as a “bare and ugly little village,” apparently it grew on her as she spent more and more time at her brother’s home in Lenox.

The antebellum Lenox she experienced is beautifully described in Cornelia Brooke Gilder’s book, Hawthorne’s Lenox.  Lenox would have indeed been quite bare since the iron industry was up and

Catherine Sedgwick Wrote Many of Her Most Famous Historical Novels 1820-1850
Catherine Sedgwick Wrote Many of Her Most Famous Historical Novels 1820-1850r.

running and using every available tree for charcoal.  Charles’ wife, Elizabeth, started a tree planting initiative and Lenox did have some very handsome structures.

Charles’ wife, Elizabeth was apparently no slouch herself in that she ran a school out of her home that was the female counterpoint to The Academy for young men.  Her school, founded about 1828,  was very well thought of and included distinguished students such as Jenny Jerome – the mother of future Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s daughter.   By 1841,  a separate building for the school appears on town maps.

Authoress Catherine never married but Charles and Elizabeth had five children:

  • Kate – 1820
  • Charles – 1822
  • Bessie – 1826 (who was to marry the German pianist Frederich Rackemann and become the mother of Charles Rackemann  whose diary has been transcribed by the Lenox Historical Society)
  • Willie – 1831
  • Grace – 1833

Atmosphere of the Hive 

The Hive - Lenox Home of the Sedgwicks - Now the Site of Spring Lawn
The Hive – Lenox Home of the Sedgwicks – Now the Site of Spring Lawn

In 1824 the Charles Sedgwicks purchased a home that was to become known as “The Hive”. It was located where Spring Lawn is today.

The combination of a charming couple of famous lineage, the presence of a distinguished female author and famous guests including actress Fanny Kemble, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sophia Hawthorne (the author himself was not particularly sociable) and Henry Ward Beecher, “The Hive” became a magical cultural melting pot.

Between this cultural melange,  educated individuals attracted to the courts and the two schools and the clean air and stunning scenery, “The Hive” and Sedgwicks of Lenox played a major role in putting Lenox on the early summer resort map.

———-

For more information on the life and times of these early Lenox intellectuals, see:

The Tanglewood Circle, Hawthorne’s Lenox, by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters, The History Press, 2008

The Beginnings of Lenox As a Resort Community

full_berkshire_2
Samuel Gray Ward (about 1860)

Several authors count Samuel Gray Ward’s (1817-1907) purchase in 1844 of the original Highwood as the beginning of Lenox as a resort community.  Ward certainly set the mold for others who would follow shortly.  He was the son of Thomas Ward who sought out investment opportunities in the burgeoning American economy for London based Barings Bank.

Young Samuel was a member of Emerson’s circle (a Transcendentalist Groupie?) and he longed to pursue the life of a country scholar.

Time Was Right for an Early Summer Resort

But to understand how this act set off a bit of a ripple of grand summer homes, we should probably consider how the stage was set as New England rolled into the new century.

  • The economy was shifting from agricultural subsistence to a cash based economy with the emergence of wage labor, professional services and trade as increasingly important — particularly in the Northeast.  A mobil wealthy class was emerging.
  • Other areas – particularly the Northwest Territories and  Upstate New York offered better agricultural opportunities than New England.  Starting as early as 1790 with Major General John Paterson moving to upstate New York, the phenomenon of  investing in land for its economic potential was shifting away from New England.  The quality was better and there wasn’t much open land left in Massachusetts
  • Population density (in the 1830-1850 censes Massachusetts had one of the highest densities per square mile) motivated those who were able to seek the health and beauty of the countryside.
  • Transportation improvements were accelerating allowing more people to go where they wanted to go and allowing economic specialization (i.e., wheat from the midwest, dairy and fresh food from New England moved to cities).  Roads had improved steadily since the Revolution and even before rail service was established, there was regular coach service stopping at what would become the Curtis Hotel.   Then several major developments occurred 1820-1850.  The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 eased east west transport through the Great Lakes.  The railroad came to Berkshire County by 1841 providing relatively easy access to the countryside for movers and shakers from Boston and New York.
  • America was just beginning to define its own art and culture and patronage and discussion were eagerly sought by the elite.  Between the courts, the Sedgwicks, and the schools there apparently was enough critical mass to attract a steady flow of artists and literati such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and Thomas Cole.

Highwood

lawn-highwood
Highroad now part of Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Program; Much Altered from the Original Italianate Design

Samuel Ward purchased land from farmer Daniel Barnes’ farm – selected for its beautiful view of the Stockbridge Bowl.  Although their home was famously chilly, the Wards lived year round at Highwood from 1845 to 1849 and quickly merged with the Sedgwick cultural circle for teas, talks, recitations and concerts.  The original Highwood (the one shown above had been considerably altered) was  designed by Richard Upjohn who was, at the time, also working on Trinity Church in New York.  Although the country intellectualism of the Wards and the Sedgwicks was much less pretentious than other what would follow later in the century, the trend of out of town architects and conscious design had begun.

Oakwood, Designed by Charles McKim for Samuel and Anna Ward c. 1870
Drawing of Cottage Rented to Hawthorne in 1850 (Re-creation now on Hawthorne Rd. Across from Tanglewood)

The couple attracted other Boston visitors and, when Sam was forced to return to Boston to take over his father’s business he rented Highwood to the Tappans who would eventually take up residency on what is now part of the grounds of Tanglewood.  In 1850 they rented the little red house at the end of the drive to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his family.

Afterward

Eventually, Highwood was sold to another successful Boston businessman, William S. Bullard.  When the property was turned over to the Boston Symphony Orchestra mid twentieth century,

oakswood
Oakwood, Built in 1876 for Sam and Anna Ward by Charles McKim, Burned 1903

The Wards had never cut their ties to Lenox and when Sam Ward retired in the 1870’s he purchased a property near Highwood and had Charles McKim build shingle style Oakwood in 1876.  In 1891, the property was sold to Anson and Helen Stokes who would build Shadow Brook up the hill and convert Oakwoods to a stable.  It burned in 1903.

So here was another  pattern of tearing down charming existing homes to put up bigger, grander “cottages.”

For much more information on the early days of Lenox as a summer resort see, The Tanglewood Circle, Hawthorne’s Lenox, by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters

Lenox as a Resort – Kemble St. Cottages

Frelinghuysen Cottage

Frelinghuysen House (xx Kemble) - 1888
Frelinghuysen House (2 Kemble St.) – 1888

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, who served as Secretary of Treasury under Chester A. Arthur,  and his wife Martha Griswold Frelinghuysen built this house in 1888 (some sources say 1881)  The house, designed by Roth & Tilden, was handsomely furnished, and the

Frederick T. Freylingjuysen (1817-1885)
Frederick T. Freylingjuysen (1817-1885)

Frelinghuysen’s entertained lavishly, with former President Arthur among their many guests. Frederick Olmsted was consulted on the landscape.

Both the Griswold and Frelinghuysen families had distinguished histories with many past and present ties to Lenox.

The house was subsequently owned by Thatcher Adams, who renamed it “Sundrum House” R.J. Flick purchased the property in the early 1930’s and lived in it while his estate “Uplands”, was under construction. It was then sold to Mrs. Charles F. Bassett who gave the school to the Lenox School for Boys for use as a dormitory.  It is (2016) currently Kemble Inn.

The Hive/ Spring Lawn

"The Hive"
“The Hive”

Lenox is a great place to play the “what used to be here?” game on a grand scale.  Charles and Elizabeth Sedgwick purchased property on what is now Kemble Street and moved a house there.  They quickly expanded to “The Hive” to accommodate their growing family and many guest.

Spring Lawn (1904)
Spring Lawn (10 Kemble St.) -1904

It was replaced in 1903 when J.E. Alexander built Spring Lawn – still standing today; shown here from the same angle as “The Hive.” – not as usually seen from Kemble Street.

John Ernest Alexandre (1840-1910) was a wealthy shipping executive.  He,  his wife, Helen Lispenard Webb (1857-1929) and their daughters had been coming to Lenox for a decade and were renting the Frelinghuysen house next door when Spring Lawn was being built by Boston architect Guy Lowell.

The house was used by Lenox School for Boys and Shakespeare and Company.  When used by the Lenox School for Boys, it was known as Schermerhorn Hall.  It is currently (2016) slated to be part of a time share development.

Sunnycroft (Gone But Not Forgotten)

Sunnycroft - 1888
Sunnycroft – 1888

George Griswold Haven (1866-1925) built Sunnycroft in 1888 using John D. Johnson as architect and John Huss for landscaping.  In 1926 it became the first building used by the Lenox School for Boys and was known as Griswold Hall.  It was demolished in 1940 after St. Martin’s Hall was built.

George G. Haven seemingly had all the gilded age trappings:  two wives (Elizabeth Shaw Ingersoll, then Dorothy James), distinguished family ties, business in all the turn of the century favorite — coal, railroads and banking.  However, he had a nervous breakdown in 1924 and took his own life.

Clipston Grange

Clipston Grange (30 Kemble St.) - 1850 and 1894
Clipston Grange (30 Kemble St.) – 1850 and 1894

The paneled core of Clipston Grange is an old village house, which originally stood at the junction of Main and Cliffwood Street. George G. Haven, New York stockbroker, Lenox real estate

Clipston Grange as it Appears in 2016
Clipston Grange as it Appears in 2016

speculator and future next door neighbor to Clipston Grange moved the old house to Kemble Street in 1893. Frank and Florence Sturgis enlarged the house in 1894 in the colonial revival style adorning the roofline with a parapet, installing elegant bow windows in the dining room and study, and adding a new reception room at the south end. The architect is unknown.

F.K. Sturgis
F.K. Sturgis

A childless couple, the Sturgises were devoted to animals. Florence Sturgis’ family property is now the Bronx Zoo, and Sturgis was a founder of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He served a term as president of the New York Stock Exchange, and on the building committee of Madison Square Garden, on the boards of the Jockey Club and the New York Coaching Club. Florence Sturgis died in 1922, four years later Sturgis left Clipston Grange to the Lenox School for Boys, which was at the time based in Sunnycroft next door to Clipston Grange.

Currently (2016) the property is a private home.

The Perch/ Winter Palace

The Perch(1849) - Fanny Kemble
The Perch (1849) – Fanny Kemble
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.00.43 AM
The Perch
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.00.07 AM
The Perch

Fannie Kemble (Butler), actress and all round character, is mentioned by just about everyone who swarmed to mid 19th century Lenox.

She spent some time at The Curtis and various rentals but eventually carved out a place for herself across from what is now Canyon Ranch on Kemble Street.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.03.40 AM
Young Frannie Kemble

 

Older Frannie Kemble
Older Frannie Kemble

 

 

 

 

It was razed and replaced in 1900 by “The Winter Palace.”

The Winter Palace - 1900
The Winter Palace – 1900

 

 

 

The owner, Courtlandt Field Bishop owned property from here through Old Stockbridge Road to Winden Hill–overlapping the current Bishop’s Estate Development.

Cortland Field Bishop
Cortland Field Bishop

His home, Ananda Hall was built in 1924 on Old Stockbridge Road and razed in 1940.

 

 

 

Bellefontaine

Postcard of Bellefontaine in all its Glory - Rear Entrance
Postcard of Bellefontaine in all its Glory – Rear Entrance

Bellefontaine was built in 1896-1898 for Giraud and Jean Foster. Giraud Foster (born in 1851) lived at Bellefontaine until his death in 1945 and could be considered to have watched over the sunset of Lenox’s Gilded Age.

Somewhat reconstituted after a fire, it is now Canyon Ranch (165 Kemble)

Bellefontaine and its inhabitants were extensively described in a recent lecture at Ventforet Hall by Richard Jackson, Jr.

——————

For much more on the architecture of these houses and the people who lived in them, see

Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, by Richard S. Jackson Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder, Acanthus Press, 2006

The Berkshire Cottages, A Vanishing Era, by Carole Owens, Cottage Press, Inc. 1980

The Lenox Academy

65 Main St., Lenox Academy - c. 1802
65 Main St., Lenox Academy – c. 1803

The Lenox Academy

The lovely Federalist Academy building (still standing on Main Street) attracted well educated Lenox residents and visitors who would set a tone for future centuries.   Although one of the most notable educational institutions, it was not the first.

Early Educational Efforts

Eighteenth century New England towns with 50 or more families (the minimum for a town) were required (in addition to building a meeting house and hiring a minister) to provide a schoolmaster to teach reading and writing.  Larger towns were required to provide a grammar school.

There was no requirement for a building and schooling might have taken place in people’s home or in the meeting house.  Part of whatever meager pay the school master’s received was in the form of room and board – obtained by moving from house to house.

No matter how well intentioned, it apparently took the town a while to move on this mandate as the first record relevant to this issue was a meeting March 16, 1770 in which it was voted to raise 20 pounds to hire schooling.

In the original proprietor’s agreement a lot (north of the current church) had been set aside for a school house.  By the early 19th century, the town had been divided into districts.  By 1860 there were nine districts.  It’s not clear what happened to the “school lot- #6” — perhaps it was sold to fund other school buildings.

As described by Tucker* these early school houses would have been crude and small with benches rather than seats or desks and heat from a large box stove.  Students would have to take turns bringing the kindling to start the fire.

A Private School in the Village

The village, referred to in records as District #2, included a private school supported by Major Azariah Egleston.  There is a record of Amasa Glezen being paid for teaching and for finding a house for the school in 1792.

The Lenox Library (it’s not clear how it was funded) was established in 1797 and would have provided an important source for reading material — books still being scarce and expensive.

Advancing to “Higher Education”

It’s difficult to make equivalencies to modern educational grades, but the petition to the state for incorporation of an academy , Jan. 5, 1803 would have been significant in that most locations at the time would have had nothing like a high school.  This academy (of course for males only!) would have taught Latin, math and other subjects that would have prepared these young men for a college education.

It is not clear whether it was the state, the town, or certain individuals, but someone owned a township in Maine (still part of Massachusetts at the time).  Half of said township was sold off make a payment on the Academy.  When combined with other private donations (led by the ubiquitous Revolutionary War veterans and town leaders Azariah Egleston and William Walker), it was enough to buy the land and build the handsome building still with us today.  The contributors read like a “who’s who,” of early 19th century Berkshire County:  the Rev. Thomas Allen of Pittsfield, Joseph Whiten of Lee, Ephraim of Sheffield, Rev. Jacob Catlen of New Marlboro, Barnabas Bidwell of Stockbridge, Thomas Ives of Great Barrington, Nathaniel Bishop of Richmond, and five additional Lenox citizens:  Rev. Samuel Shepard, Joseph Goodwin, Eldad Lewis, Captain Enos Stone and Dr. Caleb Hyde.

The Academy records giving Azirah Egleston $2200 May 21, 1807, for “38 3/4 rods of land together with the Academy now standing on the premises.”

There has been some debate about when the building was completed, but 1803 is generally accepted as the start date and clearly it was completed by 1807.  In fact, the building may have been standing before 1803.  The exchange above (between Amasa Glezen and Azirah Egleston) may have been for basic education or for an existing “academy” facility in 1792.

Teachers and Students

Levi Glezen was the first principal.  He had been a student at Williams and then gone on to establish himself as an educator in Kinderhook and Sheffield.  Another well known name in the list of educators who led the Academy was John Hotchkin.  A teacher of Latin and Greek, he was principal from 1823 to 1847 and began the practice of “annual exhibitions.”  For these student recitals, stores closed, farmers came to town and the normal business of the village ceased for this August holiday.

The charge for students was $7 per 14 week term. They usually boarded in local homes for an additional $1.25 to $1.50 a week.

The excellent reputation of the Academy was indicated by the geographic reach of some of its well-known graduates:

  • Alexander Hamilton Stephens (went on to become vice president of the Confederate States of America)
  • Mark Hopkins who would go on to become an educational leader at Williams College and elsewhere
  • Henry Wheeler Shaw of Lanesboro (generally known as Josh Billings)
  • Charles Sedgwick who would become clerk of the Lenox-based courts and the husband of Elizabeth who would start a similar school at their home, “The Hive,” for females
  • Julius Rockwell – distinguished lawyer and citizen of Lenox
  • William Lowndes Yancey – secessionist from Alabama
  • Dr. Henry M. Field, editor of the Evangelist.

Evolution

Graduating Class c. 1900
Graduating Class c. 1900

The Academy closed in 1866 for about 13 years.  In 1879 the town used it as a high school.  The building was moved a bit south (to its current location) and was repaired.

The town constructed a new high school in 1908 (now Cameron House) which was used for that purpose until the Lenox Memorial High School was completed in 1966.

The Academy was used as a school sporadically until 1911 when Charles Lanier and Newbold Morris opened it as the Trinity School.

By the middle of the 20th century,  the building was being used for commercial purposes and had substantially deteriorated.  On October 24, 1946, the town voted to take over the building and restore it.

Today it is the home of the Lenox Historical Society and is used by the VFW and the Historical Commission.

 

—————

Sources:

*Unpublished manuscript – George Tucker

Lenox: Massachusetts Shire Town, by David H. Wood, Published by the Town of Lenox 1969

Notes and Minutes Lenox Academy

 

 

Trinity Church: Establishment and Early Days

10382388_701034836622246_22329675486241370_oBy the turn of the 20th century, the episcopal church in Lenox had  added four grand looking  gilded age buildings to Lenox:  church, chapel, and rectory in Lenox village and St. Helena’s in New Lenox.

Uphill Battle in a Congregational State

But the Anglican Church, throughout Massachusetts,  had an uphill battle establishing itself.

The puritan (Congregational) church was, in the early days of Massachusetts, as close to a state church as any would ever be in America.  Puritans had come  to  Massachusetts in 1620 primarily because they objected to the Church of England (the parent religious body of the Episcopal Church in the United States).  In the early days, church and state were totally intermingled as to law, voting and community activities.  By 1700, the puritan theocracy had been largely superseded by secular royal government in Massachusetts.  The royal government, in fact, forced the creation of and tolerance of an Anglican church in Boston.   But the “tilt” to Congregationalism remained in Massachusetts.  By the time the first settlers arrived in Lenox, there were 13 Anglican parishes — all east of Worcester.

As late as 1767, when Lenox was formed, towns were still required to have a church and citizens were taxed to support that church.  It went without saying that the “official” church was the Congregational Church.  To be exempt from paying this tax, a citizen had to be certified to be a member of another “official” church and that was not possible for Anglicans in Lenox until 1793.  The tax for support of the church continued until the new state constitution in 1834.

Although many of Lenox’s early settlers were Anglican, including soon to Revolutionary War heroes, Azariah Egleston and John Paterson,  many tories were also Anglican and growth of the Episcopal church was somewhat retarded during the Revolutionary years due to its ties to England.

At the end of the Revolution the American Anglican Church declared its independence from the Church of England and took on the official title Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  In due course, American bishops were appointed and the Book of Common Prayer was re-writen to be acceptable in the new United States (among other things, dropping blessings to the king).

Early Services

The wilds of early Berkshire County were territory for missionaries.  There religious needs were met by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts(SPG).  The first Anglican priest to visit Lenox, the Rev. Roger Viets, was SPG from Simsbury, CT.  It was trying work.  He wrote that the people were so poor they could not provide enough to cover the expenses of his long and difficult journey to Lenox and beyond.  In 1764 the beleaguered Rev. Viets was arrested in Great Barrington for conducting a wedding.

fort412
Until the first Trinity Church Was Completed in 1818, Services Were Held in Private Homes or The First County Court House

Rev. Gideon Bostwick, also under SPG auspices, became the first resident rector in the Berkshires (stationed in Great Barrington) and conducted regular services in Lenox from 1770 to 1793. In 1774 he mentions key names in the organizing of  Lenox services:  David Perrey, John Whitlock, John Whitlock, Jr., Royce Hall and Eliphalel Fowler.  A Day Book entry from May 19, 1794 lists Samuel Quincy as Clerk, Josh Whitlock and Jesse Bradley as Wardens, Amasa Glezen, Jeremiah Dewey, Issac Goodrich as Choristers.

With the appropriate infrastructure now in place, Lenox area Anglicans organized an official parish in 1793.  It initially included Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge and Pittsfield.  In that same year Deacon Daniel Burbans was hired as rector for Lenox.  He was rector for Lenox and Lanesborough as well as taking up the missionary work of the now deceased Rev. Bostwick throughout the Berkshires.

It is not completely clear where these early Lenox services were conducted in the newly built county court house.  (Then on Walker St.; still standing today on Housatonic).

Rev. Burhans took a position in Newton, Connecticut in 1799 and Lenox engaged the Rev. Gamaliel Thatcher to be shared with Lanesborough. He was followed in 1800 by Rev. Ezra Bradley – also shared with Lanesborough.  In 1801 Lenox reached an agreement to share the services of Rev. Samuel Griswold with Great Barrington.  Rev. Griswold was a nephew of the intrepid Rev. Roger Viets who had conducted the first Anglican services in Lenox.  He led the congregation through the completion of their first church in 1818.  That same year he was dismissed over an unspecified quarrel.

Early Members

The Act of Incorporation of 1805 lists the following from Lenox:

Samuel Collins

Selah Cook

David Dunbar

Samuel Dunbar

Azariah Egleston

Moses Geer

Amassa Glezen

John Gregory

Moses Hall

John Hill

Henry Hunford, Jr.

Edward Martindale

Titus Parker

Eleazar Phelps

Samuel Quincy

Stephen Root

David Smith

James Smith

Jonathan Thompson

Thaddeus Thompson

Elijah Treat

John Tyler

William Wells

John Willard

Lenox residents added to the incorporation in 1807:

Salmon Andrews

Abel Avery

Daniel Butler

Jethro Butler, Jr.

David Collins

Stephen Crittenden

Samuel Gray

Edward Hatch

David Hubby

Moses Merwin

Daniel Palley

Samuel Palley, Jr.

Calvin Perry

Joseph Presby

Calvin Sears

Ashbel Sprague

Oliver Stedman

Henry Taylor

Joseph Tucker

Ira Warrener

Warren Warrener

John Whitlock

Daniel Williams

Samuel Wright

Rectors of Trinity Parish (1793-1801)

Daniel Burhans (1793-1799), shared with Lanesborough

Gamaliel Thatcher (1799-1801), one fourth – 3/4 Lanesborough

(Rev. Ezra Bradley also mentioned as sharing with Lanesborough in 1800)

_______________________

Sources of Information

History of Trinity Church, Lenox, Massachusetts, 1763-1895 by Rev. Charles J. Palmer, John Wilson and Sons University Press, Cambridge, 1895

The Goodness That Doth Crown Our Days, A History of Trinity Parish by John Allen Gable, Lamb Printing, North Adams, MA, 1993

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenox and Shays’ Rebellion

Repression in Response to Desperation

Debt Ridden Farmers Closed the Berkshire County Courts Twice in the Fall of 1787.
Debt Ridden Farmers Closed the Berkshire County Courts Twice in the Fall of 1786.

The farmers of rural Massachusetts had been struggling with debt and the non-responsiveness of their representatives since before the end of the Revolutionary War.  By 1786 protests were escalating.  Regulators, as they called themselves, closed the Berkshire County court twice in the fall of 1786.

benjamin-lincoln
General Benjamin Lincoln

As many as 9,000 farmers across Massachusetts were eventually involved in protesting the debt collection of the merchants and the courts.  Local militia were largely farmers themselves and sympathetic to the Regulators.  The commercially oriented elite asked Henry Knox to form (and funded) an army to protect their interests and supplement the local militia.  Knox demurred but Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Lincoln took up the cause.

Aping their pre Revolutionary British predecessors, the Boston dominated legislature passed laws in the fall of 1786 that legalized severe punishment of crowds gathered to protest or riot.  Finally in November 1786 they suspended habeas corpus  (enabling them to apprehend and imprison protestors for an indefinite period of time without bail).  It authorized the arrest and incarceration of anyone suspected of being unfriendly to the government.  Further, they passed a bill preventing the spread of false reports criticizing the government.

In an attempt to break up the Shaysites, the legislature further offered an opportunity to be awarded total indemnity if they took an oath of allegiance to the government.

The threat of both force and legal action (without addressing the debt problems at the root of the protest) gained little ground with the Regulators.

From Protest to Rebellion

Many Shaysites (including key figures such as Daniel Shays, Luke Day and Reuben Dickinson) had military experience. They knew (whether government loyal militia or paid army from Boston)troops were coming to quell further action.  They needed weapons.  The largest weapons cache in New England was in the Springfield Armory.

Stormed Springfield Armory for Weapons in January 1787
Stormed Springfield Armory for Weapons in January 1787 – the Last and Only Major Military Action

In January 1787, the Shaysites attacked the Springfield Armory. It was successfully defended by Revolutionary War veteran William Shepard.

Meanwhile Benjamin Lincoln, the failed defender of Charleston during the Revolution, was hard on the heels of the rebels with an army funded and armed by Boston. The Regulators fled first to their home area – Pelham – and then north to Vermont and west to the Berkshires breaking up into smaller groups.

Meanwhile Back in Berkshire County

Major General John Paterson Must Have Come Home to Some Prosperity Building This Lovely Home in 1783. It Still Stands at7 Main St.

Major General John Paterson was the leader of the Berkshire militia and a champion of conservative  interests in the Pittsfield and Lenox conventions of 1782-1786.

The Shaysites had, by the time they reached Berkshire County, dwindled to 300-400 dispersed and poorly armed men but still seemed to have engendered enough sympathy with the population and members of the militia to alarm Paterson.

Stockbridge, January 31, 1787

To General Lincoln:

Sir:  The desperation of the factions in the County against Government has induced a kind of frenzy, the effects of which have been a most industrious propagation of falsehood and misrepresentation of facts, and the consequent agitation of the minds of the deluded multitude.

Last night, by express from several parts of the County, I am informed of insurrections taking place.  My only security under present circumstances will be attempting to prevent a junction o the insurgents, which probably cannot be effected without the effusion of blood; to extricate me from this disagreeable situation, therefore, I pray you, Sir, to send to my aid a sufficient free to prevent the necessity of adopting that measure.” (Egleston p. 186)

By late February, Benjamin Lincoln was in Pittsfield but he had released the militia.  His force had dwindled to 30 men.

shayrebel_12691_lg
The Rebellion Had Started to Disintegrate Into Housebreaking and General Lawlessness by Late Winter 1787

In fact the “revolution” may have started to disintegrate into a general breakdown of law and order among increasingly disheartened Regulators.  Several stories that have been preserved paint the picture.

Just before Benjamin Lincoln reached Pittsfield 250 rebels,under Peter Wilcox, Jr. collected at Lee to once again block the court.  Paterson and 300 militia came out to oppose them.  The rebels took cover on Perry Hill and got a yard beam from Mrs. Perry’s loom and rigged it to look like a canon.  Paterson’s men beat a retreat.

16476373_135224536194
Mum Bet Protected the Sedgwick Home in Stockbridge from Rebels

During the same 1787 winter, rebels under Captain Perez Hamlin (from Lenox but residing in New York at the time) Massachusetts and attempted to pillage, among other things, the home of leading conservative – Theodore Sedgwick.  The famous Mum Bet hid the family silver and became, once again, a great heroine.

Shortly thereafter Hamlin and his men imprisoned 32 men including Elisha Williams and Henry Hopkins.  With these prisoners and their booty they proceeded in  to Great Barrington and then, in sleighs on towards Sheffield.

The End of the Insurgency and the Consequences

The Marker Noting the End of Shays Rebellion Was Installed in Sheffield About 100 Years After the Event
The Marker Noting the End of Shays Rebellion Was Installed in Sheffield About 100 Years After the Event

They were pursued by Ingersoll and Goodrich from Great Barrington, Colonel Ashley of Sheffield and later William Walker of Lenox.  It seems to have been something like 100 men on each side but the records are somewhat contradictory.   They skirmished across modern-day Sheffield and Egremont.  The dead included Solomon Glezen who had been taken prisoner in Stockbridge and allegedly used as a human shield.

The prisoners exceeded the capacity of the Great Barrington jail and the overflow was taken to Lenox.  Most were granted pardons.

Most of the Regulator leaders had fled to New York or Vermont so the Berkshire courts were somewhat hard pressed to find an appropriate number of rebels to punish.  Two were broken out of the Great Barrington jail by their wives Molly Wilcox and Abigail Austin (really – smuggled saws and everything).

Two, John Bly and Charles Rose, were hung in Lenox (apparently as of Fall 1787 taking its place as the legal center of the County).  Richards (p. 41) suspects they were guilty of not much more than breaking and entering in an atmosphere of lawlessness but had few connections so took a fall that many others avoided.

Judge Whiting, who had sympathized with the rebels in the 1786  protests at the Great Barrington courts, was savaged by strong Federalist Theodore Sedgwick.  It is likely other sympathizers in positions of authority met the same exclusionary fate.

As everyone knows, Shays Rebellion supported the arguments of men like James Madison, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton that the loose confederation that had won the war against Great Britain, needed to be strengthened.  Needless to say, Thomas Jefferson, then Ambassador to France disagreed.

A May 1787 meeting of the Continental Congress had been called and was held before the raid on the Springfield Armory in January 1787.   Many delegates decided to come after hearing of the1786-1787  uprisings in Massachusetts.

The resulting US Constitution now included provisions such as creation of a national army that could suppress revolt.  Who knows what would have happened to the Constitution sent to the states in September 1787 if the state legislators had not been worried (perhaps unduly) about falling into chaos – the perceived outcome if the Regulators succeeded.

*********

The Life of John Paterson: Major General In The Revolutionary Army, by Thomas Egleston, G.P Putnam’s Sons, New York, NY, 1894

Shays’ Rebellion and the Constitution in American History, by Mary E. Hull, Onslow Publishers, Inc., Berkley Heights, NJ, 2000

Shay’s Rebellion The American Revolution’s Final Battle, by Leonard L. Richards, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2002

Shays’ Rebellion The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, by David P. Szatmary, The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA, 1980