Jonathan Edwards was a famous 18th century preacher, probably best known for his sermon ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’. But he was also a famous naturalist, who discovered how spiders fly by sending out a length of filament into the wind and then, at the last minute, cutting the cords that bound them to the earth and soaring off wherever the winds might take them. He saw this as a metaphor for the human soul.
Edwards went to Yale at the age of 13 and later served as the pastor in Northampton for 23 years. He married Sarah Pierpont, who was a famous mystic, not a usual thing in Puritan New England, and they had eleven children.
On one occasion, Edwards asked his wife, “Isn’t it time that the hay was harvested?”
And while she might well have replied “Whenever you get off your lazy ass and start mowing.” But she didn’t.
She replied, “It has been in the barn for two weeks.” I think we can agree, Jonathan Edwards married well.
This is one of many historical nuggets that I have gleaned from a rare volume entitled ‘Historic Hampshire in the Connecticut Valley’ by Clifton Johnson. Good luck getting a copy. It’s longout of print. Clifton Johnson was a world famous photographer who circled the globe many times and who took many wonderful photographs of his native Hadley, especially the village of Hockanum.
This history tells the many tales of Hampshire County towns, like the tale of the Hadley regicides – two judges who signed the death warrant of Charles I, Edward Whalley and William Goffe, were hunted after the restoration of Charles II, and were sheltered by Hadley’s Reverend John Russell for ten years.
When the Indians attacked Hadley in the French and Indian War while the residents were at church, a ‘gray-bearded stranger rallied them to the defense of the town and averted disaster.
Johnson presents stories from every town in Hampshire County, even the three – Prescott, Enfield, and Greenwich, which were later submerged to create the Quabbin Reservoir.
Of all the remains that were disinterred and reburied to create the Quabbin Reservoir, there are three that I am particularly interested in.
In the Town of Prescott, there was a monument marking the resting place of three persons, with the following inscription:
John Cowan died 1856
R.C. Russell 1808-1872
Draw your own conclusions. Like Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin) said in ‘Paint Your Wagon,’ “If two partners want to share one wife, why not? This ain’t Michigan.”