Springfield History

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    William Pynchon Sailed

    In April 1630, William Pynchon sailed from Southampton, England for North America as one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Pynchon began trading furs along the Atlantic coast, but the enterprise failed. In the autumn of 1635, Pynchon sailed up the Connecticut River investigating prospects for the lucrative beaver trade. He returned in the spring of 1636 and purchased 150 acres of land from the indigenous Agawams, who lived along the western shore.
  • The War with Native People

    The war with the native people reached Springfield in the fall of 1675, after Pynchon had sent his troops north to Hadley. Caught by surprise, Pynchon dispatched 30 men to return and defend the city, but the order was too late, and much of Springfield was burned to the ground. As a consequence, Pynchon's reputation suffered, as he was blamed for the town's misfortune during the war.
  • Nonotucks and Northhampton

    The Nonotucks sold acreage to the founders of Northampton. However, they were perhaps the first local Native People to resent the presence of the English, resisting further land sales and warning settlers not to hunt on their remaining lands. Living among them, and welcomed, were "rogues" (English-law breakers) who had fled the settlements. Both groups fought the English in King Philip's War. In defeat many fled to French Canada, fighting as allies of the French against the English in the Conne
  • Slave trade banned.

    In 1788, members of the Massachusetts legislature banned the slave trade within the state's borders. The last slave in Springfield, a fugitive from Schenectady, New York, was freed in February 1808. After her owner came to town to reclaim her, three local selectmen and eighteen others purchased then freed the woman, named Jenny. She settled west of Goosepond, near what later became known as Winchester Square.1
  • First Automobile

    In 1826, Blanchard built a wood-burning, steam-powered carriage, regarded by some as the first automobile.
  • Near Extinction

    By the turn of the nineteenth century, caribou, elk, buffalo, moose, cougars, beavers, blue herons, and black bears were gone from the valley. By 1850, wolves and cougars were gone from Massachusetts, and Europeans had hunted the heath hen and passenger pigeon to extinction.
  • Free Black Residents

    In the late 1850s there were more than two hundred free black residents of Springfield. The first African American church in town, organized in 1844 as the Sanford Street Free Church, hosted visits by abolitionist champions Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. In response to the Fugitive Slave Law, John Brown, Springfield's most ardent abolitionist, formed an organization of black and white members dedicated to preventing the recapture of escaping slaves.
  • Everett Barney

    In 1866, Everett Barney of Springfield patented an ice skate that was fastened to the soles of shoes by means of a metal clamp tightened with a key. Barney made a fortune, and upon his death bequeathed to the city his large estate, which today is known as Forest Park.
  • Puerto Ricans

    About 90,000 Puerto Ricans moved to the continental United States between 1898 and 1944. Most settled in a few New York City neighborhoods. A sharp decline in Puerto Rico's agricultural economy during the Great Depression combined with the displacement of rural workers by intensive industrialization after World War II produced a mass exodus of more than half a million during the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Russian Immigration

    Russian immigration to the Springfield area increased in 1987 after the Soviet government lifted emigration restrictions as part of a reform program initiated by Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and again after economic and political upheaval following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.