Falls, and the Rev. Dr. Titus Strong of Greenfield consecrated the first Christ Church building, on April 1,1840.
On October 1, 1839, the first marvelous train of the Great Western Railroad of Massachusetts (Boston & Albany) ran through Springfield and incidently with its coming, Christ Church shared with the city a signal honor, for from about 1840 to 1842; while engaged in the construction of this railroad, Major George W. Whistler, retired, a distinguished civil engineer lived here, the greater part of the period in the house situated at the corner of Chestnut and Edwards Streets known latterly as the home of Dr. Frederic B. Sweet. During those years, Major Whistler, his little children—among them James Abbott McNeil Whistler the great painter—and his wife, Annie McNeil Whistler, "The Lady of the Portrait," attended Christ Church.
On one plan of the pews sold in the early forties in the old Christ Church building is the name of Geo. W. Whistler written in pew No.30, and in another plan his name, for some unaccountable reason, is written upside down in pew No. 9. On one list of those who gave money toward paying the first church debt is the name of Mrs. Whistler, who contributed $100. There is also in the church archives part of a sheet of ordinary note paper on which is written a list of names, apparently in the handwriting of certain individual contributors to the first building fund. Mrs. Whistler's name is among these, in small clear script, the same—as far as it is possible to carry in mind —as that in the manuscript diary of the artist's mother in the New York Public Library.
One parishioner (1927) had heard her mother say that she remembered the Whistler family as they sat in church, the Major, the world-famous "Whistler's Mother" and the row of little dark-haired children of whom there were four, three boys and one girl.
James,—whose chief delight even as a very little boy was "drawrin'" —was born at Lowell, July 10,1834. It is interesting to record that he was baptized, November 9, 1834, in the same