Stephen Williams kept a daily journal of his life from 1716 until his death in 1782.  Ten volumes of the journal are owned by First Church of Longmeadow and are stored in a vault for safekeeping.  The eleventh journal covers his service as military chaplain during the French and Indian War and is at the Library of Congress.

The Williams journals were written with a quill pen in small hand-sewn paper booklets.  Unlike many of his contemporaries, the Rev. Williams’ handwriting is uniformly poor.  In addition, he used his own abbreviation notation system throughout the diary.

In 1938, a grant from the Works Project Administration enabled ten of the journals to be transcribed.  Five members of the Longmeadow Historical Society worked on the transcription.  When grant funds ran out, trustees of the Richard Salter Storrs Library provided additional funds to complete the project.  When it was completed in 1940, the transcript of the 10 volumes ran to over 4,000 pages in length.

The ten manuscript journals and the transcription of these volumes have been digitized (using funds provided by the Longmeadow Cultural Council and Community Preservation Act) and are accessible to the public online via the Storrs Library website.

We are fortunate that the journals still exist.  After Rev. Williams’s death, the manuscript journals became the property of his wife, Sarah.  After her death, they eventually came into the possession of Samuel Williams, Jr., a grandson of Rev. Stephen Williams, who was living in his grandfather’s old parsonage.  In the late fall of 1846, the old Burnham home burned down and sparks from that fire drifted towards the Williams parsonage, set it on fire, and burned it down.  Little was saved from the house except for a few Williams family artifacts and the journals.  Some years after the fire, the Williams journals came into the possession of Professor Richard Salter Storrs, a grandson of the Rev. Richard Salter Storrs, and, after passing through a number of hands, eventually became the property of First Church of Longmeadow.


  • The Journals of the Rev. Stephen Williams by Andrew Medlicott

by Elizabeth Hoff

Longmeadow Historical Society

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