Published on November 14, 2007
A Child’s History of Southwick: A Child’s History of Southwick Room 34, Mrs. Gardner and Room 39, Mrs. Whalley Woodland School 1998-2000 Early Settlements: Early Settlements Southwick, a small town in Southern Massachusetts, is not as old as many places in New England. Before becoming a town it was part of Westfield and before Westfield became a town both were part of Springfield, one of the first English settlements. Southwick was first called “Outer Commons” because it was on the outskirts of Westfield. Southwick got its name because it’s south of Westfield. Wick was a common word in England that meant village. K. Anderson Slide3: The Puritans came to Massachusetts Bay Colony because they wanted a place to settle. They settled in the Connecticut River Valley which is known as the Pioneer Valley. The Indians were good at trapping beavers and traded with the settlers. K. Stefaniw J. Audet J. Tuzzio Settlement Roads: Settlement Roads The settlement started along these three lines. These roads used to be Indian paths running from the north to the south. The settlement followed these paths. The green line, College Highway, is the longest road in Southwick. It got its name from students traveling from Smith College in Northampton, MA to Yale University in New Haven, CT. J. Turner Slide5: North and South Loomis College Highway North and South Longyard The Settlement of Southwick: The Settlement of Southwick Southwick was founded by a small band of people. Their names were the Fowlers, Gilletts, Moores, Nobles, and the Kelloggs. These people came to Southwick in 1734. The settlers in Southwick were tired of traveling the long distance to Westfield for Sunday services and town meetings so the men wrote a petition in 1765 asking to be separated from Westfield. Only men could sign the petition because women were not allowed to vote. K.Lapenas O. Hodges Slide7: On March 15, 1765 a petition was written to separate Southwick from Westfield. The settlers thought that it was too far to go to church in Westfield. Speaker-Pat Odiorne L. Marshman Poverty Plains: Poverty Plains The people came from Westfield and settled in an area just north of the center of town called “Poverty Plains.” It was called this because the land was thought to be too poor for farming. Samuel Fowler, the first settler and leader of our town built his home here and found that the land was good for farming. K.Baker J. Reardon Slide9: At the age of 23, he married Naomi Noble on May 8, 1734. This united the Noble and Fowler families. In 1732 and 1734, Samuel Fowler bought land and settled on Poverty Plains. This land was believed to be unfit for farming. P.Kucienski Fowler House The Jog: The Jog The surveyors Saffery and Woodward were hired by the Massachusetts Bay Colony about twenty years after the Pilgrims arrived. Their instruments were very crude. They used the stars and sun to find their locations. After surveying westward from Boston, they avoided a Native American tribe by going back to Boston and used boats to travel up the Connecticut River to where they stopped surveying. J.Berelli Slide11: 1770 Southwick broke away from Westfield and got Parts A, B, and C. 1793 Connecticut received Part B. Southwick was given Part A. 1783 The American Revolution ended. The dispute began. What will happen to the water coming out of the lakes? 1779 Southwick got Part D. 1803 A compromise was made. Speaker-Gilbert Arnold The Dispute: The Dispute Connecticut and Massachusetts fought over this land for 162 years. Southwick wanted the Congamond Lakes because they needed the water from the lakes to power the powder mills, gristmills and the sawmills. Great Brook Fletcher Mill The Congamond Lakes: The Congamond Lakes Southwick is well known for its Congamond Lakes. Let’s take a peek back at the lakes’ history. The lakes are believed to be tens of thousands of years old. They were probably formed during the Ice Age. M. Karathanasopoulas Wenekeiamaug: Wenekeiamaug The original name of the lakes were “Wenekeiamaug”. They later became known as “Congamuck”, a funny name used by the Native Americans. However, the lakes were not mucky. They were very pure because they were spring-fed. P. Kucienski C. Allen “The Port of the World”: “The Port of the World” Congamond Lakes’ chance to become world famous was a plan to build a water route connecting the St. Lawrence River to Long Island Sound. It would even have connected with the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. An English company thought of draining the Congamond Lakes into the Westfield Valley to make the soil rich for farming. J. Berrelli R. Jacquier Farmington Canal: Farmington Canal In the early 1800’s, the Farmington Canal was built to provide an easier way of moving freight like lumber, leather, and wood from New Haven CT. to Northampton, MA. The trip took 24 hours. In the mid 1800’s, they decided to change the canal into a railroad track. Canal Railroad Farmington Canal Slide17: Immigrants from Ireland worked for John Boyle, a Southwick settler, to build the Farmington Canal. The canal had many problems over the years.In 1845, the canal directors voted to build a railroad. The Canal Railroad carried many passenger and freight trains daily. Farmington Canal M. Karathansopoulas Vacationing On The Lakes: Vacationing On The Lakes In the late 1800’s, the Congamond Lakes was a fun place to be! People from other towns came to enjoy the lakes. They would have picnics and swim together. One of the first boats used on the lakes was a steamboat called the “Morning Star”owned by Mr. Abell. He took sightseers on a ride all around the lake. People could enjoy a wonderful tour of the lake for only a quarter a ride! A. Newcomb C. Wadsworth Ice Harvesting: Ice Harvesting Ice harvesting on the Congamond Lakes was a big business in the early 1900’s. Ice was harvested on Middle and South Pond because they were the biggest lakes. Southwick’s ice houses were named the Hygienic, North, Berkshire Ice Company, Congamond or Railroad, and Walker. Ice houses were about two acres in size and were where the workers stored the ice cut from the lakes. K. Anderson E. Potts Speaker-Larry Gormally Steps to Ice Harvesting: Steps to Ice Harvesting When the ice was frozen, the workers scored and cut it into chunks with an ice saw. An ice pole was then used to pull the ice through the channel to shore. The workers used the poles to push the ice onto a conveyor belt where it was taken into the ice house and covered with sawdust so that it stayed frozen. K.Beaudoin M.Davidson Speaker- Larry Gormally Delivering Ice: Delivering Ice The ice was used to keep food cold in ice boxes. The ice was put in the top compartment of the box while the food was put in the bottom. The Congamond Lakes were really important for harvesting ice. Although ice harvesting is not done today, it will always be a part of Southwick’s history. J. Kwasny The ice was kept in the ice houses until summer. Then the ice was loaded into boxcars on trains to bring to many cities throughout the Northeast. Men delivered the ice in horse-drawn insulated delivery wagons. Farming: Farming In 1770, the first farmers came to Southwick. Farming was a very hard job with long hours. Forty five years ago, there were about 30 tobacco, poultry and dairy farms. Today there are only six farms left. The farmers lived a long distance away from each other. It was important for them to work together and trade their crops. E. Potts K. Madru Speaker-Fran Putnam A Day in the Life of a Farmer: Every morning, a farmer wakes up a half hour before the sun rises usually around 5:30. They get dressed, go to the barn, milk the cows, feed the animals, clean the stalls, and gather the chickens’ eggs in baskets. Gathering the eggs is a hard job because the chickens run everywhere on the many levels in the barn. Farmers work until the sun goes down. A Day in the Life of a Farmer B. Solomon C. Hersey Farming Tools: Farming Tools Many tools were simple, but they were all used by an every day farmer back in the early days of Southwick. Some of the tools that were used were saws, rakes, hammers, hoes, and axes. All the tools had practical uses around the farm. Another tool is the plow. Farmers hitched a horse to the plow and plowed the fields. H.Disco A.Michaud Amasa Holcomb: Amasa Holcomb Amasa Holcomb was born on June 18, 1787. He never went to school but he taught himself to read and write. He especially loved science. When Amasa saw his first total eclipse at 16, he wanted to learn everything he could about the stars and the planets. At the age of 20, he was the first American to make and sell telescopes as well as make his own lenses. Speaker- Ed Faits Slide26: Williams College bought one of Amasa’s telescopes to use in their observatory. Since he was interested in surveying, he also made a surveyor’s telescope which was used to survey parts of Southwick and other towns. Amasa Holcomb served as a town selectman for three years and wrote an autobiography. He died in 1875. His telescopes can be found at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.. Star Gazer E. Machietto When Amasa looked through his telescope, he discovered that there were billions of stars and many planets. He even thought that there might be life on other planets. Historical Sites: Historical Sites The Methodist Church was founded by Amasa Holcomb in 1816. He adjusted the lenses of his telescopes by focusing them on a scripture reading that was written on the church’s steeple. The Moore house is one of the oldest houses in Southwick. It was built in 1751 by Joseph Moore. Because of its location in the Jog over the years, it has been part of two different states and several different counties and towns. The Moore house is presently being restored into a public museum for the town of Southwick. The Moore House The Methodist Church SchoolDays: School Days Many of the original school houses were lost in fires. However, some old one room school houses that date from the 1700’s to the 1800’s have been converted into homes today. The Consolidated School which was dedicated in 1929 was remodeled in 1998 and is the site of Southwick’s Town Hall today. Cemetery: Cemetery The oldest burial ground in Southwick dates back to 1770, about the time that the town was settled. An old white picket fence surrounds the cemetery even today. Seventeen of the original signers of the petition asking to have Southwick become a separate district from Westfield are buried here along with many other early settlers. Amasa Holcomb’s grave Slide30: The Majestic White Oak located on Kline Road is the oldest white oak in Massachusetts. A peek in Town Hall gives insight into Southwick’s history. Presented by Mrs. Gardner’s third graders and Mrs. Whalley’s fourth graders at Woodland School.