A History of Agawam

Significant dates - 1636 - 1912

From a 1930's Minerva J. Davis type-written manuscript
currently in the Agawam Historical Association collection.


1636
First house built in Agawam Meadows. Large tract of land purchased by William Pynchon from the Agawam tribe of Indians for 18 fathom of wampum, 18 coats, 18 hatchets, 18 hoes and 18 knives.
1636
First deed ever executed in Western Massachusetts; signed by 13 Indians (with) their mark(s).
1640
Name of the plantation changed to Springfield as a compliment to William Pynchon who came from Springfield, England.
1660
Thomas Cooper, Abel Leonard and Thomas Merrick settled on the south-west side of the Agawam River and within a few years grants of home lots were made at various points.
1666
First sawmill built in Feeding Hills.
1673
Inhabitants petitioned the town for a boat in which to cross the river to attend public worship. Later, three members of the Bodurtha family were "drownded dead" by the unsetting of the boat during this passage.
1674
Anthony Dorchester authorized to keep a ferry just south of the present site of the South End Bridge.
1695
A petition was sent to the General Court by the 32 families for permission to settle a minister on the west side of the Connecticut River.
1696
Agawam became the 2nd Parish of Springfield and the 1st of West Springfield.
1698
A church was formed with Rev. John Woodbridge as pastor.
1707
Land on the west side of the river divided into plots of 10 acres each and assigned by lot to all males of 21 years.
1708
The selectmen were empowered to get a teacher for the west side inhabitants to teach "ye children to read and write" and Rev. Benjamin Colton of Longmeadow was hired as schoolmaster to be paid 20 lb. for half a year.
1740
First meeting house in Agawam was built on land of Reuben Leonard, one mile west of sawmill near parish line of Feeding Hills.
1740
Schools had been established in Agawam and Feeding Hills.
1750
Tavern erected in Feeding Hills, kept by Col Mosely. Morley's and Flowers taverns followed, also three on Agawam Street: White's at the State Line, Worthington's or Clark's at the corner of South Street and Leonard's at the Center in the Fowler House. The Brouse House was also a tavern.
1750
There were two principal turnpikes running north and south. One through Agawam from Hartford to Holyoke, the other through Feeding Hills from Hartford to Northampton, over which stage coaches made regular trips stopping at various taverns.
1757
Agawam was set off as the 6th Parish of Springfield containing about 75 families.
1759
"Voted: to build a meeting house in the center of the present inhabitants or as near as may be."
1760
"Voted: to appoint a committee to find the center of the present inhabitants by measuring."
1760
"Voted: that rum and cider shall be provided for the raising of the meeting house at the cost and charge of the Parish."
1761
Permission was given some young people to build seats in the gallery.
1762
Rev. Sylvanus Griswold was installed as pastor of the 6th Parish of Springfield with a salary of about two hundred and twenty-five dollars a year and the use of 40 acres of land. His pastorate extended over 57 years.
1774
West Springfield was incorporated as a town with Agawam as its 2nd Parish.
1775
General Washington passed through the town in a "coach and four" under escort.
1775
Two companies of Minute Men were sent to Lexington.
1777
A detachment of Burgoyne's Army on the way from Saratoga to Boston passed down the old road near Federal Hill.
1780
Peppermint distillery established. Later, potato whiskey was manufactured, followed by cider brandy and rye gin.
1782
A Lottery was granted for supporting and repairing a bridge across the Agawam River.
1783
Stockbridge Indians still lived in Agawam, making and selling baskets.
1789
Gen. Washington again passed through the town. His diary mentions crossing the Agawam River on a bridge and that at Springfield "the river is crossed by scows sent over with poles and is about 80 rods wide."
1790
The Baptist Society was formed with eleven members and the Rev. Jesse Wightman ordained as preacher. Services were held for a time in the home of Jonathan Ferre in stormy weather and under the apple trees in the orchard in pleasant weather.
1796
Voted: to sell the Parish meeting house at "Public Out-cry".
1799
The meeting-house was bought and moved to Feeding Hills.
1800
Agawam and Feeding Hills divided into two distinct parishes in the town of West Springfield.
1800
The frame of a church was moved up from Suffield and placed on the common. It was used alternately by Baptists and Congregationalists. The bell was a gift of Capt. John Porter. The church was painted largely by subscriptions of rye and flaxseed. A chimney was not built until 21 years later.
1803
Calvin Bedortha was making Windsor chairs about a mile west of Agawam Centre.
1805
Voted: to have an "every nine o'clock" bell rung.
1810
One of the first cotton mills in Western Massachusetts built on land now owned by Riverside Park at mouth of 3-mile Brook. A settlement of tenements for the mill help was known as the "Factory Ground".
1812
A small fulling mill was in operation in the Centre. Looms were installed later, which was the beginning of the present woolen industry. The Agawam Co, was incorporated in 1857.
1819
The first Sunday School was organized.
1821
Rev. Reuben Hazen was called to preach both in Agawam and Feeding Hills at $250 per year from Agawam and $190 from Feeding Hills.
1826
Agawam had 3246 Inhabitants.
1830
The Baptists sold their share of the church on the common for $600 and built the present Baptist Church.
1834
Congregational Church built in Feeding Hills.
1840
Methodist Church built in south part of Agawam.
1845
Congregational Church moved to its present location. Voted: "to appoint four additional tything men to keep the children and young people quiet and older people awake during the sermon."
1855
Agawam separated from West Springfield and was incorporated as a town including Feeding Hills and Mittineague, with a population of about 1500. The first town meeting was held in the Methodist Church.
1859
Bodurtha's store built with hall above.
1861
172 men went from the town to the Civil War, of whom 22 died either in battle or from disease. The women formed a Soldier's Relief Society working for the soldiers and contributing $1000 in money.
1874
Town Hall and school house built in both Feeding Hills and Agawam.
1879
South End Bridge opened.
1882
The Worthy Paper Co. organized in Mittineague.
1890
Free Public Library organized, The present building in Agawam Centre given to the town in 1924. The Library building in Feeding Hills was a gift to the town from Mr. Frederic Halliday in 1905.
1895
Telephone service installed.
1905
Electrical lines were extended to give service to Agawam.
1912
Springfield water system established.
 
 
 
The south part of Agawam was originally the centre of industry, containing the Post Office and general store, hat factory, satinette factory, peppermint distillery, grist mill and saw mill and tannery. Wall paper was afterward made in the old cotton mill. Shad and salmon were plentiful in the Connecticut River.

At the present time (c.1935 ?) there are in the entire town 9 churches, 8 schools with a total of 1733 pupils, 600 of whom are in the High School; three libraries, a Community Health Association with District Nurse, a resident physician and Dental Clinic; a Women's Club and Men's Club, besides a number of other clubs and organizations; an efficient Fire Department and one of the largest Airports in the country. There are 184 farms, The highest elevation is Proven's Hill, 665 ft. above the level of the Connecticut River. The population is 7092.

Old houses now standing, built before 1810 are:

Oliver House
Fowler
Brouse
Parker
Old Bowe Place
Riverside Park House
Cavanaugh House
Ferre
Chas. Worthington
J.W. Hamilton


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