Early History of West Springfield 16501800 Essay

This essay has a total of 896 words and 5 pages.


Early History of West Springfield 16501800





In 1774, as the citizens of the thirteen colonies thought about declaring their
independence from their mother country, England, the people of West Springfield were
celebrating their independence from their mother town of Springfield. They requested
incorporation of their town from the General Court for two reasons: a growing discontent
with the representation that Springfield chose to send to the General Court and with the
difficulties of geography. What was then called the Great River Connecticut separated the
parish of West Springfield from Springfield making voting and attending town meetings
difficult. On February 23rd, 1774, the Act of Incorporation was approved and West
Springfield became a town.

On April 19, 1775, British soldiers attacked the towns of Lexington and Concord. When the
news reached West Springfield a company of minutemen composed of West Springfield’s
citizens began the nearly one hundred mile march to the west on April 20th. Captain Enoch
Chapin, First Lieutenant Samuel Fowler and Second Lieutenant Luke Day led fifty men
westward to aid their fellow colonists. They were part of a larger regiment led by
Colonel Patterson. At the end of their month long service, the minutemen returned home.
A majority of the men would later re-enlist.

In 1776, in response to the call for the creation of a Continental Army, Massachusetts
raised over five thousand men. Of them, West Springfield contributed forty-eight, the
largest total of any western Massachusetts town.

Many of West Springfield’s men would fight for the freedom of America. James Wade
(1750-1826) fought at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill before being captured and
spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Simeon Smith
(1753-1843) joined the army, giving up his apprenticeship to cabinetmaker Nathaniel
Gaylord. Roger Cooley (1719-1802) served as a lieutenant in Colonel John Mosley’s
regiment stationed in White Plains, New York. In the early months of the Revolution,
Reuben Champion (1727-1777) moved his family to West Springfield from Saybrook,
Connecticut in the hopes of keeping them safe. He joined the army and served as a surgeon
before dying of fever at Fort Ticonderoga.

The cemeteries of West Springfield contain the remains of many of the brave men who died
fighting for their country. The Park Street Burial Ground holds tombstones for Reuben
Champion, Captain Allen Jones, Colonel David Leonard (1740-1777) who died of smallpox
while serving near Lake George and Captain Levi Ely who was killed in military action on
the Mohawk River in 1780. Simeon Brooks is buried in the Ashleyville cemetery and the
Chicopee Street Burial Grounds is the final resting spot for these West Springfield
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