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Martha Chapin Goldthwait (1863-1934)

Faithful readers will be familiar with the name Goldthwait from previous History Notes, including a recent one about the return of a stolen rifle. This talented family produced a map engraver, educators, musical instrument makers, and artists. Martha Chapin Goldthwait was no exception. The Longmeadow Historical Society is fortunate to have several dozen of her works on paper--watercolors, pencil sketches, and charcoals. Many of her subjects are homes around town, giving us a glimpse of what Longmeadow looked like in the late 19th century. Tantalizing are images of homes that no longer exist, like the Samuel "Marchant" Colton house and the Sylvester Bliss house.

Martha, born to William C. (1814-1882) and Julia Hebard Goldthwait (1827-1907) lived at 756 Longmeadow Street. She graduated from Mount Holyoke Seminary, as it was then called, in 1884, as did two of her older cousins, Catharine and Mary. When her aunt Susan (wife of Jonathan Hale Goldthwait) wrote her will in 1891, she left bequests to Martha, as well as to Mount Holyoke in honor of her daughters.

Martha never married and traveled extensively on her own. She sketched views on Ireland Island in the Bahamas in 1892. The newspapers report that she gave a talk on Hawaii to a local group, having traveled there in 1904. She also traveled to England and Scotland in 1909. One notice mentioned that she was teaching a group of 16 students in Alabama in 1910. At the 197th annual meeting of First Church in 1913 she was on the Missionary Committee and was responsible for the floral decorations. Several of her illustrations were used in the 1933 sesquicentennial booklet. Her obituary in 1934 describes her in laudable terms as a teacher, illustrator, history lover, member of the Longmeadow Historical Society, supporter of the temperance movement, and generous donor to the cause of missions. Not only that, but she was described as "a thorough student and authority on nature studies of all kinds, knew the birds and their habits and was without doubt one of the best students in botany to be found in the vicinity."

She sounds like someone this author would like to meet, don't you agree?

-Contributed by Betsy McKee, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member

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