John. H. Lockwood
From the beginning of New England's civilization, its basic unit has been the town. Going back to the earliest settlements in colonial times, when the inherent hunger for land and roon drove the immigrants out toward the unoccupied spaces, it is natural to find that the nearness to one another of several families in a particular region was the normal condition of organizing themselves into a civic body for common defense, and for various advantages. Each community thus created was of necessity vitally related to the colony in which it existed, while it continued to utilize its resources and develop toward maturity.
The history of a town concerns, on the one hand, a record of the outward manifestations of its progress through accumulated years, and, on the other hand, an analysis and interpretation of its hidden forces -- its motives, purposes and character. Difficult as is the one task after the years have multiplied to centuries, the other is immensely more so, since even persons who dwell together in most intimate relationships are puzzled and baffled in attempting to understand one another.
The annals of Westfield, from its establishment in 1669, have not lacked diligent and devoted modern students, who, with no incentive or prospect of material compensation, have spent lavishly strength, faculties, and time in patient research. Among them three names stand out in bold relief: Joseph D. Bartlett, Henry Holland, and Louis Marinus Dewey, of whom only the last still survives to continue his unselfish labors and to furnish an eager public interesting details thereof. We may felicitate ourselves that one so eminently qualified for the task as is Mr. Dewey has been secured to prepare a historical sketch for the Souvenir Program of the town's quarter millennial celebration.
From its earliest years Westfield has taken a deep interest in the education of youth, and during nearly half its corporate life it has held among the towns of the Commonwealth a prominent place in that field of essential importannce. The opening of the Academy on the first day of the nineteenth century and the coming of the State Normal School about four decades later, provided ample facilities not only for the advantage of the young people of the town, but also for pupils drawn from regions near and far, even beyond the boundaries of Massachusetts.
Far more than a quarter of a century past the High School, with revenue supplemented by the annual income of the Westfield Academy Fund, has maintained a reputation for superlative excellence, while its lofty standard has necessarily exerted an elevating influence upon the subordinate schools of the towns.
During periods of war, from the years when Indian savages menaced the infant setlement to the present, when the world's civilization was menaced by a foe even more unscrupulous and fiendish. Westfield has made unstinted offerings of her manhood and her treasure for the defense and maintenance of the public welfare. Heroes on many martial fields and officers who have reached positions of exhalted rank and efficient service have shed glorious luster upon our town escutheon.
In pursuits of peace we have nutured successive generations of men of marked ability in professional and mercantile callings, with many possessing a genius for invention and the manufacture of varied products.
The social life of the town has been distinctly democratic -- class divisions and prejudices being commonly ignored in a spirit of kindly fellowship. Family ties are so strong and affection for the home region is so deep and durable, that those who, from time to time, found occasion to transfer their residence elsewhere never lose the sense of kinship with the place of their childhood. Hence, the coming anniversary will press its appeal close to multitudes of hearts in the call of the old home to share its hospitality and its festivities at that significant epoch of its history.
Illustrious as our past has been, we need, nevertheless, not to look backward to find our golden age, but let us fix eye and purpose upon the future, to insure more worthy lives and more honorable achievements than such as hitherto have marked the career of our beloved town.
John. H. Lockwood,
Pastor Emeritus of the First
Church of Christ of Westfield
Author of a History of Westfield in two volumes nearly ready for the press.
In placing this volume before the public, the editor and associated desire to express their gratitude for the kindly encouragement and the more than liberal support they have received from the people of Westifeld. A work of such magnitude as this, one involving such a great amount of detail labor, could not be well prepared without the generous assistance, the hearty co-operation of a large portion of the community; and that such aid has been given us, together with a generally expressed approval of our undertaking, we gladly put upon record.
In addition to much other valuable assistance that has veen received, many important papers have been prepared for us, and they present a fairly complete résumé of the history of the town's various institutions.
The scholarly contributions of Rev. John H. Lockwood, Louis M. Dewey, George H. Lewis, Joseph C. Duport, Frances Fowler, Lewis B. Allyn, Herbert W. Kittredge, the late Sarah M. Kneil, and many others will receive the approval od all who are interested in Westfield's history, and they will serve as invaluable basis for work of the future historian.
To William F. Lyman, Louis M. Dewey, Mrs. Charles F. Austin, Edward Clark, Freeman Wood, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Kneil, and many others we are indebted for most of the illustrations we have used. The typographical and artistic features of the volume speak for themselves; it being our constant aim to secure the best available work, and we hope that our efforts will receive the approbation of the public.
In undertaking the compiling of this book it has been our aim to make it a publication that would be pleasing not only to the present generation but to the generations to come as well. We believe we have placed before the people of Westfield an interesting book, faithfully recorded in photos and words, of all the familiar scenes of years ago, also the scenes of our boys and girls of to-day, and as time rolls on, bearing with it the many changes in scenes and destiny, this work will be of priceless value to those who have sentiment fo rthe old town, so the scenes of their childhood, and the many other familiar landmarks so dear to all Westfield people.
Edgar Holmes Plummer