Thursday, May 28, 2015

William Apess, Native American Activist Born in Colrain

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Business meeting at 7:00 p.m., Program at 7:30 p.m
In the Stacy Barn behind the Pitt House 
at 8 Main Road, Colrain
William Apess (1798–1839), also known as William Apes before 1836-1837.
William Apess was Colrain’s little-known but remarkable Native Son. Born in 1798 of mixed racial lineage and living here for only a few years, Apess survived a childhood marked by severe deprivation. He fought in the War of 1812 and went on to become an itinerant preacher, author of the first book-length autobiography by a Native American, and a lecturer in support of Native American rights in New England. He delivered his first sermon as an “Indian preacher” in the Catamount Hill schoolhouse in the 1820s.

Apess will be the subject of a program at the meeting of the Colrain Historical Society Thursday, June 11, in the Stacy Barn behind the Pitt House at 8 Main Road. The program at 7:30 p.m. will follow a business meeting at 7:00.

Speaker Drew Lopenzina is researching a book about Apess. A native of western Massachusetts, he teaches Early American Literature at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
Drew Lopenzina

The meeting is open to the public, and refreshments will be served. For more information call Belden at 624-3453.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Colrain Potash

“What was Potash?”
Colrain Historical Society

Thursday, May 14, 2015,  7:30 p.m.

at the Stacy Barn behind the Pitt House on 8 Main Road, Colrain

As Colrain was being settled, potash was an important farm and home industry.  It was a dangerous, dirty and an entirely unpleasant business, which ended when all the land had been cleared.

Ralmon Black examining a colonial potash kettle. Photo credit: Cummington Historical Commission.
What was potash?  It will be the topic of a program of the Colrain Historical Society, Thursday, May 14, in the Stacy Barn behind the Pitt House on Main Road.   Ralmon Black will discuss colonial asheries, the first industry of the hilltowns, and how they affected the economy of those times and the land forever.  There was a Potash Hill in Colrain.

Black was raised on the one-horse ancestral farm in Williamsburg.  He retired in 2000 as a dairy specialist with  the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and serves the town of Williamsburg as a Historical Commissioner, Secretary of the Historical Society and town historian engaged in genealogical research on the first settlers of his town.

The program will begin at 7:30 p.m., following a business meeting at 7:00 p.m.  Refreshments will be served, and the public is welcome to attend. Free admission.  For information call Belden at 624-3453.

Rachel McGee, her busk, & "the shot heard 'round the world"

From Colrain to Concord

COLRAIN — The distance from Colrain to Lexington and Concord is about 90 miles, but in April 1775, at least 44 Colrain men headed east, to join Massachusetts militia during the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

While Boston still celebrates these battles with re-enactments on Patriots’ Day Weekend, the Colrain Historical Society will observe them “with a look back at April, 1775,” and the role that townsmen played.

The Historical Society’s first meeting of the season takes place on Thursday at the home of Joan McQuade, 9 Main Road, across from the G. William Pitt house. 

Joseph Caldwell of Colrain was known to be among the company of men who rode from Colrain to Lexington to fight the British.  “We know he was among the men who heeded the call, but we know they didn’t get there in time for the battle,” says Belden Merim. She said some may have ridden horses, exchanging horses along the way, while others may have walked. “All we know is, they left to answer the call,” she said.

The would-be militia met one last time before heading out at the home of Rachel McGee, who would become Joseph Caldwell’s wife a year later. “All the women there made doughnuts like crazy — and that’s what they (the men) took with them, for food,” said Merim. She said they arrived after the first battles were over, but remained in the east for about two weeks before coming home.

The Historical Society recently acquired a carved busk that once belonged to Rachel McGee, which came from one of her descendants. Busks were rigid, decorative disks used in women’s corsets, to keep the stays erect. Merim said sailors used to carve busks out of whalebone for their sweethearts. The framed busk will be available for viewing at the meeting. 

The program at 7:30 p.m. will follow a potluck supper at 6, and a business meeting at 7. The meeting is open to the public. Those coming to the potluck supper should bring a main dish or dessert to share and a place setting. Cider and coffee will be provided. For information, call Merim at 625-2003.

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Old News!

The Spring 2015 edition of Old News!, the periodic newsletter of the Colrain Historical Society, was mailed on May 11. Click here for a PDF version (1.79MB.)