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A former island resident, whose home was at the little rustic town of West Tisbury, was Captain Joshua Slocum, author of “Sailing Alone Around the World,” one of the most interesting accounts of real sea experiences ever written. The voyage which is
the subject of this book was begun in 1895 at Boston and lasted three years. It was made in a little vessel that the captain built himself. The Spray, as he called it, was thirty-seven feet long and fourteen feet wide, and the cabin was too low to stand upright in. Much of the time the wheel
lashed, and the boat Captain Slocum on the Spray, the steered itself. In boat in which he sailed alone around the fall of 1907, the world
the captain sailed away in the Spray for South America to explore the Orinoco River, and he has never been heard of since.
The Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts THERE are many well-tilled farms on the fertile
lowlands that border the Massachusetts portion of the Connecticut River, but more important than these are the industries in the thriving commercial towns and cities.
Springfield is the place first settled. William Pynchon and others came thither from Roxbury in the spring of 1636 and established homes after buying the land of the savages, to whom it was chiefly valuable as a range for hunting and fishing, and the gathering of nuts and wild fruits. Mr. Pynchon remained in Springfield only a few years, but his son, “The Worshipful Major John," was long the leading citizen of the valley and carried on an extensive trade with both the whites and Indians. Sometimes he sent in a single ship to England five thousand dollars' worth of otter and beaver skins. Other skins that he bought were the gray and red fox, the muskrat, the raccoon, the marten, mink, wildcat, and moose. Most of them were packed in hogsheads. Many of the skins were brought down the river from the distant North and West.
Another early notable was Deacon Samuel Chapin, and one of the city's finest art treasures is a statue of him by St. Gaudens, showing a typical Puritan on his way to church with a big Bible under his arm.
A third Springfield worthy of the period was Miles Morgan. He made the journey from the Connecticut Valley to Beverly to marry the lady of his choice, taking with him a packhorse, an Indian, and two friends. After the wedding the horse was loaded with the bride's effects, and she, her husband, and the other three made their way through the forest on foot to Springfield, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. Morgan, though unable to read or write, held many important positions.
Like numerous other New England towns, Springfield suffered severely in King Philip's War. In October, 1675, the Indians burned thirty-two of its houses and twenty-five barns, and killed one woman and four men. Only fifteen houses were left standing, and some of the homeless families and the troops who were sent to the town spent the following winter in dugouts and in cellars rudely roofed over.
The Indians retreated after their assault, and the pursuing whites accomplished little except to take a single squaw prisoner. One of the old accounts says she “was ordered to be torn in pieces by dogs, and so was dealt withall.”
The first bridge built across the Connecticut on its broader course between the Sound and the northern boundary of Massachusetts was erected at Springfield in 1805 after years of agitation and considerable ridicule of the scheme by local wiseheads. “You might as well attempt to bridge the Atlantic,” one man declared.
The bridge was wooden, but was not roofed over. Its roadway ascended and descended with the curve of the arches of each span. It was painted red. When it was opened there was a procession, a prayer, and a sermon, and there was music, ringing of bells, and a salute of seventeen guns fired three times. After nine years' service it showed signs of weakening and
was replaced by the big covered “Old Toll Bridge, which still stands. Tolls were collected until 1872.
During the Revolution various munitions of war were made in Springfield at first in shops along Main
Street and in some of the barns, but later these public works were moved to a ten-acre square on a broad hilltop that the town had taken for a training field. Here was established a few years later a government armory, and in the Civil War the factories, by running night and day, attained a daily output of one thousand rifles.
At one spot, just outside the Armory grounds on State Street, is what looks like a quaint old gravestone.