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During this season of thanksgiving, the Longmeadow Historical Society would like to reflect on what we are grateful for. This kind of review is good for the soul—it reminds us of all the good in the world when the nightly news might suggest otherwise.


We are grateful for generous friends-- over the past year we have received some wonderful new collection objects. A former Longmeadowite sent us a framed silhouette of five of his ancestors, complete with identification on the back! This gift was the impetus for some exploring into the world of silhouettes and several family trees.



Another former local sent us several items from his family, including two crucibles used for the manufacture of eyeglasses. He also gave us some old slide photos which proved invaluable in identifying a stolen object. And, as it happens, both of those donors were classmates at Center School, as discovered in a class photo of 4th graders from 1947! Between the two, they identified almost everyone in that photo. A recent donation brought us a 1930’s era Flexible Flyer sled, used right here in Longmeadow on Blueberry Hill. Two other local families have loaned us items from their families, providing us with more stories to tell about life in the 19th century. We are also thankful for the determined law-enforcement professionals who recovered a target rifle stolen in 1970!



We are also extremely grateful for all of the generous donors who have given us monetary donations. Each and every dollar is used to continue our work—telling the stories of the past. We couldn’t do it without you! Grants have also enabled us to paint the exterior of the building, rehabilitate storm doors, and add energy saving interior storm windows. Another grant from the Pioneer Valley History Network and the Massachusetts Cultural Council allowed us to organize an area-wide open house with four of our sister history organizations on the same day, called “History on the Go!” This event brought visitors from near and far, and helped us to re-establish connections with our neighbors. We plan to do it again next year.






We are also grateful to our friends who have volunteered their time, including acting as docents for open houses. Others have generously shared their expertise: people like an interpreter from a local museum, who shared his expertise with clocks and musical instruments; another local historian who can answer almost any question we throw at him; and a curator who came to look at furniture, but ended up identifying the source of a reverse-painted scene on a wall clock within seconds of walking into the room!


And for all those faithful readers of our weekly History Notes—thank you! With a special shout-out to those extra-thoughtful people who comment on our posts with words of encouragement and praise! We extend our heartfelt wishes for a healthy, happy holiday season with family and friends. -Submitted by Betsy McKee, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member.

In honor of next week's upcoming Giving Tuesday, we hope you will consider stopping by the Donations page on our website and contributing. Giving Tuesday is an important fundraising day for small volunteer-based organizations like the Longmeadow Historical Society.

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Across the Longmeadow Green from First Church of Christ and stretching to the west is a small country lane named Chandler Avenue. Flanked on the north by the White Tavern (766 Longmeadow Street) and on the south by the Old Country Store (776 Longmeadow Street), this quiet street today belies its history as a hub of industrial and commercial activity in the western village of Longmeadow. In the nineteenth century, this short street was home to, at various times, a general store, a tavern, a spectacle shop, a button manufacturing business, a blacksmith shop, a stable, several residences, and even, briefly, a “segar shop.”


The Old Country Store, built in 1805 by Calvin Burt and Stephen Cooley, has always been a commercial building. Originally a general store, it has also been a gold and thimble shop, a button factory, a spectacle shop, a retail store, a real estate office, and, currently, The Spa on the Green. Proprietors of the general store included Calvin Burt, Edwin K. Colton, Charles Allen, Charles L. Wood, Seth Steele, and Clarence Cooley. A gathering place for town residents, the store included the town’s first telephone, the post office, and the store scales.



The White Tavern was originally built as a private residence for the Bliss family. David White, a master carpenter, purchased the house in 1786 and converted it into a tavern. Over the years, it has served as a tavern, a boarding house, and a temporary schoolhouse. In 1873, William W. Coomes, a silversmith and spectacle maker with a shop across the street in the Old Country Store, bought the White Tavern for his home and it has remained a private residence ever since.


Dimond Chandler, for whom Chandler Avenue is named, was a local entrepreneur who helped establish both the spectacle industry and button manufacturing industry in Longmeadow. At one point, Dimond Chandler owned both the Old Country Store and the White Tavern along with the land behind them. Seeking an opportunity to make the vacant land in the back productive, Dimond decided to partition and sell it. In 1858, he laid out Chandler Avenue between these two buildings and started selling off the lots. Today, the four private residences on the street help to tell the story of Longmeadow.


24 Chandler Avenue


Located on the north side of Chandler Avenue, this house was originally the barn and carriage house for the White Tavern. It was likely built prior to 1800. At some point, probably in the mid-1800’s, the building was moved westwardly to its current location and converted to a residence. In 1879, Diamond Chandler’s heirs sold it to Abby S. Burt, wife of Frank H. Burt, a gunsmith and thimble maker and it remained in the Burt family for many years.



52 Chandler Avenue

At the end of Chandler Avenue, is the Hartigan House, 52 Chandler Avenue. In August of 1858, Dimond Chandler sold land for a “building lot” to Martin Hartigan. By the next January, Mr. Hartigan had erected a dwelling home on the property.



The 1870 map of Longmeadow includes the first depiction of Chandler Avenue – a path leading from the spectacle shop on Longmeadow Street to the button shop and then to the home of “M. Hartigan.”


Martin’s son, John, worked as a coachman and operated a livery stable on the property. He also served the town as a Water Commissioner. Descendants of the Hartigan family occupied this residence until 1951.


31-33 Chandler Avenue


South and east of the Hartigan House is this pretty wooden Victorian two-family house. Dimond Chandler sold the land for this house to Margaret B. Taylor in 1872 and her heir sold her “homestead” to John Ward in 1892.

It is unclear when the house was built, but it first shows up on the 1894 map of Longmeadow.

19 Chandler Avenue


19 Chandler Avenue is on the south side of Chandler Avenue east of 31-33. Now a private residence, the building most likely was built around 1840 to house the expanding Newell Button Factory. Dimond Chandler partnered with the Newell brothers to establish the button factory. Factory workers, most of whom were young, unmarried women, lived in the White Tavern (now serving as a boarding house) located catty corner across the street. The Newell Button Factory flourished, outgrew the space available at 19 Chandler Avenue, and moved to a new location in Springfield in 1863.


In 1873, Dimond Chandler sold the building to William C. Pease who operated it as a multifamily rental property. The building remained what the Longmeadow Assessor called a “tenement building” for many years (the term “tenement” was synonymous with “apartment” at that time). Mr. Pease also owned the blacksmith shop on Chandler Avenue and Noah Webster, the blacksmith, lived at 19 Chandler Avenue for many years.


For further information on these historic sites, please visit our website (longmeadowhistoricalsociety.org) and check out previous History Notes articles on “The White Tavern," Boarding House for Newell Button Factory Employees," and “Silver and Gold Spectacles and Thimbles.


Sources:

Historic Homes of Longmeadow

Archives of the Longmeadow Historical Society

Hampden County Registry of Deeds

When people ask what the oldest gravestone in the Longmeadow Cemetery is, the answer is the stone for Mary Drake Colton. She died in 1682 and was buried first in in Springfield, though her stone was moved to Longmeadow in the late 1840s or early 1850s (See History Note 3/2/2020). However, when people ask which stone marks the first burial in Longmeadow's burying ground, we direct them to the stone for Experience Hale (d. 1719), carved by William Holland, Longmeadow's first known stone carver. He is also credited with carving her husband, Thomas', gravestone after his death in 1750.


Gravestone for Experience Hale carved by William Holland

So who was William Holland? We have found his work as a stone carver from New Haven to north of Springfield. He was a prolific gravestone carver, who was also known to work stone for buildings. Since the 1950s researchers interested in gravestone carvers have tried to put together the story of William Holland. So far a definite date and place of birth for Mr. Holland have not been established. Prior to the 1750s he was working as a stone carver in Connecticut and in the early 1750s may have been married and had two children in Durham, Connecticut. By the 1750s he was in Longmeadow and owned land in what is now East Longmeadow in the midst of the quarry areas.


Mr. Holland appears to have been a very busy stone carver in Longmeadow. Based on carving design and distinctive lettering form, we attribute 35 Longmeadow gravestones to William Holland. It is believed that he also carved an 18th century mile marker on Longmeadow Street. Being the first resident gravestone carver, Holland found business carving stones for persons who had died prior to his arrival in town as well as for those who passed during his time in town. He is almost certainly responsible for training several young men in Longmeadow in the art of gravestone carving - William Stebbins, Ezra Stebbins, Jonathan Burt and Elijah Burt.


The important stone marking Experience Hale's grave is missing its top and has an imperfect repair. It marks the final resting spot of a 42 year old woman who died eight days after delivering her seventth child. Her son, Hezekiah, died four months later and is interred in the same grave. Experience's death left her husband Thomas with five sons and two daughters --the oldest aged 13. Thomas remarried, and upon his death in 1750 in his 78th year, he was laid to rest next to his first wife.


The plan for the burying ground was laid out in 1702/3 but as of 1718 the Town was still planning to fence and clear the land. Thus the first burials in Longmeadow would have occurred after 1718. Many of Longmeadow's deceased citizens buried in the first decades of the 18th century in Longmeadow were buried without a permanent marker or buried in unmarked graves. It wasn't until decades after her death that Experience Hale received her permanent marker, a memorial erected by several of those young children she left behind. They had grown into men who wanted to honor their parents.

We are fortunate that documentation survives in the form of a receipt at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum archives in Springfield concerning the payment for the gravestones of Experience and Thomas Hale, paid for by their children.


“Agreed With Mr Jonathan Hale and his Brother John for twenty Eight Pounds Old Tenor for two pair of Grave Stone for their Parents to be Compleatly finished and I acknowledge Received in Cash-of Mr Thos Hale one Dollar of Mr Jonathan Hale forty seven & Six pence of Mr. John Hale one Dollar of Mr Noah Hale half a Dollar and the rest I will take in any Specie at the Market price Received of Mr John Hale by bil one & Sixpence Lawful Money"_________ Received pr Wm Holland Attast Aaron Colton Feb: 21st


This documentation tells us several things. The gravestones for both Experience and Thomas were carved at the same time in 1757 by the gravestone carver William Holland more than 37 years after Experience died and more than 6 years after Thomas died. It also spells out which sons will be paying what amounts towards these monuments.



Thomas Hale's gravestone, carved by William Holland


Another example of William Holland's work


Jonathan Hale's ledger

Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum, Springfield

detailing many references to "fetching a load of stone

from the Quarrey" for William Holland


One of the last gravestone's that William Holland carved

in Longmeadow includes a message to future visitors:

"Here, Reader, mark/ (Perhaps now in the Prime)

The Stealing Steps/ of never-Standing Time"


After 1760, Mr. Holland apparently left Longmeadow. By that time the gravestone carvers that he had trained were busy and fairly accomplished. We do not know what becomes of William Holland, but we do know that he was paid for a grand gravestone in Durham, Connecticut in 1761.


William Holland attributed stone in Durham, CT


Submitted by Dr. Al McKee, Longmeadow Historical Society, President/ Longmeadow Cemetery Association Vice-President

(with contributions by Betsy McKee)

Originally published October 7, 2021

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