Friday, February 24, 2006

Westfield Jubilee

This blogging thing is a very new phenomenon and at times I have a tough time really grasping the concept. Some of our fellow bloggers have become a very important part of our news reporting scene, investigative reporters and sometimes the very first to report a problem, or a story. Others of us are content to sit back and call ourselves Rememberers by reporting on things that happened a long time ago, in our childhoods, or telling stories about others or their town or their love affairs. Lest we get too full of our new blog business, and ourselves, let me report on a book written about my town and its Two Hundredth Anniversary in October of 1869. It is a book, that I have found, about some of the original bloggers .

First, let me give this story a little bit of historical perspective as I have a bit of a tough time getting my head around the year 1669 as that was the date this town was incorporated and it was founded even earlier. I moved here from a state, South Dakota, that was fighting Indians in 1869 and Gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1876. 200 years after Westfield was incorporated. 200 years my friends and that is a really long time. As of the time of this reporting, Westfield has been a town [and now a city] some 336 years.

The book I referred to is The Westfield Jubilee: a report of the Celebration at Westfield, Mass., on the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town, October 6, 1869, with the Historical Address of the Hon. William G Bates, and other Speeches and Poems of the Occasion, With an Appendix, Containing Historical Documents of Local Interest. Rather a long title but that was how they did things back then. The end of the title is the interesting part “With an Appendix, Containing Historical Documents of Local Interest”. This is about the blogging and the actual postings occupy about 60 pages. In the previous year, 1868 and earlier, The Westfield Times published several numbers of articles with the title “Pictures of Westfield as it Was”. These “Pictures were articles written by various writers, reporters and columnists with the paper. At the time of the celebration they numbered 42 postings. These postings were edited down to 19 that were included with the book as historical color. The various authors wrote about the present day town and reflected upon how it was according to their recollections. Usually the subjects were prominent individuals, events, historical heroes, etc.. I have selected a posting about a Mr. Bates who was a local resident. The story was about his life and what it has meant to Westfield, as his deeds were many. Some were funny and some were sad. A funny story was at the end of this posting No. 16.

“In speaking of Pine Hill, I am reminded of an incident. A small boy had a small sled, with which he was accustomed to coast on that steep hill. The “help” in Mr. Bates’ family, consisted of a short, fat, dumpy woman, named Bet, and a smaller girl. They importuned the boy, to give them a ride, which he did,--the girl and Bet being loaded on the sled, and he mounted, as steersman. After a number of rides, Bet desired to go down alone, soliciting instructions from the boy, for the guidance of the sled. The hill inclined somewhat towards the edge; and in giving his directions, he mistook, in telling her which foot to put down. It therefore so happened, that, when the sled, with its cargo, was in full career, and tending toward the precipitous edge, Bet put down the wrong foot, and, in an instant, they darted like a catapult, through the brush fence, on the hill-side, into the brush below. It is, perhaps, needless to remark, that, about that time, the boy left suddenly for home, Bet behind him, ‘breathing out threatenings and slaughter’”.


The photo at the top of this posting is a recent shot of the "Town Green" and shows a statue of General Shepard, our local hero of the Revolutionary War. General Shepard was General Washington's favorite and was with him in all of his battles of the war of independence. The second photo, of the city's seal, was 'lifted' from the city website. I don't think it was illegal to 'lift' the city seal & place it on this blog but in case it was I'll blog about it. Go ahead and click on the hyperlink under the word "city seal" and give us a look.

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