The Honorable William G. Bates, in his address at Westfield's Bicentennial Celebration said: "Our fathers surely provided us a goodly heritage. They cast our lot for us in pleasant places on the swift gliding streams of Woronoco. Let us never forget that we are the guardian of its present and future prosperity."
Lest we of to-day think lightly of this "goodly heritage," or neglect our sacred guardianship, it has seemed wise to present to the people of Westfield, by means of this Pageant, a picture of the life of bygone years; that we may be reminded of the courageous endeavor, the patient endurance, and the heroic fidelity to purpose which was exhibited by those who founded this community.
It is the hope of the thousand or more people who have labored to portray these scenes that their efforts may be rewarded, not only by your enjoyment of the momen, but by the awakening of a lasting interest in town traditions and a determination to make this beautiful old Westfield continue worthy of those who loved and cherished it in days of yore.
"Witness here 'Ye Days of Olde!
See their wealth of life unfold.
Glad of heart, the record read
Of high courage, faithful deed.
As men wrought for Church and State,
Giving all, so they be great.
Years of growth and power ye see,
Sign and seal of years to be."
Synopsis of Pageant
Father Time and the Dawning of Creation
In the distance, out of the mist, a form is seen approaching, followed by several ghostlike creatures with veils drawn over their faces. As they advance, voices are heard singing a weird chant. When the mist clears, behold Father TIme chanting: "I came I know not whence, -- I go I know not whither, -- for I am Time." Continuing this weird chant as he passes on, but those who accompanied him remain, and as strains of distant muic are heard, they raise their veils and we witness the Dawning of Creation.
The Coming of the Indians
When this land was first explored, it was inhabited by the Red Man. Where this race came from, how many years it had dwelt here, and what peoples it displaced, we do not know. There are historians who believe that the Indians were preceded by another race who built beautiful palaces and large cities, which long ago crumbled into dust. Others suppose that mounds and various evidences of an earlier occupation were the works of the ancestors of these Indians. Therefore, with no direct knowledge or evidences at hand of the ancestry of the Red Indian, their coming is merely symbolical.
There were found living in small villages and scattered in roving bands. Everywhere, the early settlers came in contact with these people.
Indian Camp with Its Primitive Occupations
Extremely improvident, they cultivated the soil very little, and depended almost entirely upon the chase. Hunting and dancing constituted their chief enjoyment. Their great interest in life was to procure food and devour it, and to subdue their enemies.
"Away with care! Let every heart with quicken'd fervor glow!
While we brush away the dust from bygone years, and bid the records show
The honored deeds of those who lived over two hundred years ago."
About 1636, the company of William Pynchon and Deacon CHapin traveled up the "Bay Path" from Boston to Agawam, afterward Springfield.
Mary Pynchon met John Holyoke on the journey from Boston, and they became lovers, and were afterward married. In his story called "Bay Path," Dr. Holland has Mary Pynchon name Mount Holyoke after her lover, and Mount Tom for a pet deer.
The meeting with the Indians was friendly, and after the land was transferred, the Pipe of Peace" was smoked. This ceremony always followed such transactions between the Indian and the White Man.
The meaning of the written deed of transfer was explained to the Indians, and their re[presentatives signed it by each drawing a picture on the parchment.
The price paid was: —
10 fathoms of wampum
The western portion of the land bought by William Pynchon and the settlers contained a trading-post called by the Indians "Woronoke." Gradually the settlers took over grants of land at "Woronoco," the earliest recorded being in 1658. Because of its situation at the fork of two rivers which were wateres by many streams, the name "Streamfield" was suggested; but in 1669 it was incorporated as the town of Westfield.
The Pioneers Conquering the Forest
The labors, the trials and the sufferings of the Pioneers are remarkable features of the early life. The long and distressful winters, with sickness and famine, together with the savage warfare of the Indians were very depressing; but by a determined, holy purpose which have given to their times the title of "the heroic age of the Republic," -- they conquered.
"The Powers of the Forest and the Powers of the River
Here shall obey thee, working thy will;
Pine boughs that whisper, aspens that quiver,
Sing to thee, "Conquer still."
In 1676, an order came from Boston urging the inhabitants to abandon the town and move to Springfield from the Indian uprising known as "King Philip's War."
In 1725, the first Dame school ewas established in Westfield with the "Widow" Catherine Nobler as the teacher. THe Dame pursued her owns spinning and household affairs while she taught the children. The girls were taught to sew and make "samplers." The boys who attended indulged mostly in mischief. All boyus between the ages of six and twenty were obliged to contribute toward the teacher's salary whether they attended or not.
When the news of the Battle of Lexington reached Westfield and the surrounding country, the Minute Men came pouring into the town. A company of seventy men was immediately formed which started at once, for Boston, commanded by Lieutenant John Shepard.
General William Shepard, a veteran of the French and Indian War, was summoned to Roxbury, and afterward won great reknown in the Revolution.
Dance Symbolizing the War of 1776
In 1783, when peace was declared between Great Britain and the United States, a great celebration was held in Westfield, and General Shepard, who had just returned from the war, was the hero of the occasion. The whole town turned out for the festivities, which were held with great enthusiasm.
In 1899, the dedication of the old Westfield Academy -- which was partially supported by the state -- was a scene of much satisfaction to the townspeople. At the close of the exercises the Honorable Samuel Fowler presented the keys of the Academy to Mr. Peter Starr, who was to be the first preceptor, or teacher. In the early days of the institution the teachers were called Preceptors, Preceptresses, and Ushers.
The corner stone of a new building was laid in 1857, and when the Academy ceased to be, the funds of the trust were transferred to the use of the present High school.
Dance Symbolic of the Civil War (Synopsis)
Joyous dancers symbolize peacefulness. Black clouds of war approach in the distance, and the dancers rush away. THe Blues and Grays line up for battle. Others representing Love and Devotion make one final plea for peace, but are cast aside, and the battle begins. The Grays are defeated and the victorious Blues dance with joy. Love and Devotion return and plead with the Blues to help the Grays through their time of stress. The Blues then join the Grays, and all are reunited in a spirit of love and reconciliation.
Depicts the Beauty and Growth of Westfield