Category Archives: From the Archives

Shumway Family Correspondence Comes to the Stone House

In December 2014, the Belchertown Historical Association acquired more than one hundred letters and other family material related to the Shumway & Works families of Belchertown. Delivered to the Stone House by owner John Schumacher-Hardy, these letters were mostly written to, and collected by, Mary (Works) Shumway. Though Mary and her husband George F. Shumway were both Belchertown natives, they were living in Monson during the time covered by most of the correspondence, roughly 1880-1910. George Shumway was the son of Loren and Harriet (Foster) Shumway. Mary was the daughter of John and Laura B. (Thresher) Works.

In addition to the letters, there is a large amount of genealogical material related to the Shumway, Works, Pratt, Coolidge, and Alden families. Anyone wishing to review these items, should make arrangements to visit the Stone House archives by contacting Cliff McCarthy at:


Stone House Wins Grant

Thering it again Stone House is the recipient of a SHRAB (State Historical Records Advisory Board) to preserve our wonderful collection of World War I posters.  Up until now, the posters have been folded or rolled and kept in boxes.  With $934, and the volunteer labor of the museum committeliberty loane (Nancy Bell, Shirley Bock, Amy Moran, Florrine Neggers and Randi Shenkman), and our museum’s archivist (Cliff McCarthy), each poster will be placed into a clear archival sleeve to keep the paper from degrading.

Properly preserving these posters will enable the Museum to create a special World War I exhibit in time for the 100th anniversary of the U. S. entry into the ‘War to End All Wars”.






Mysteries of Local History: The Murder of Julia Town Warren

By Cliff McCarthy and Paul Weigold
Specials to The Sentinel

There’s no way around it. This is a sad story. There’s no happy ending.  It’s a story of poor people making poor choices and the consequences that ripple through generations.   It came to me from Paul Weigold, a researcher in Connecticut who showed up at the Stone House Museum one day, investigating a 150 year-old murder.

Together, we peeled away the enveloping weeds of time.

Julia Town was born in Belchertown about 1841, though we can find no record of her birth. Her father, Asher Town, was a farm laborer, who had been struggling for a decade to get a stake in the American dream, but still had no land and no personal property to speak of. Her mother, Arabella, was busy raising Julia’s two older siblings. There would be three more children after Julia. Both Asher and Arabella were born and raised in Belchertown, but Asher was only distantly connected to the other Towne family, the prominent family, the ones who usually spelled their surnames with an “e”. Read more »

A Piece of Belchertown History

DORISRecently, a piece of Belchertown history, dated August 1774, arrived at the Stone House Museum. Richard Knight, a former resident, presented a framed broadside from the Honorable Harrison Gray, Esq., Treasurer and Receiver-General of His Majesty’s said Province, Massachusetts Bay. It set forth the sum to be assessed and collected from each person in town and included a poll tax on every male over 16 years of age, a tax on houses and land, horses and mares, oxen, swine, goats, sheep and Indian, Negro and Molatto (sic) servants as personal property. The broadside stated that “Hereof you may not fail as you will answer your Neglect at the Peril of the Law.”

This valuable broadside was formerly owned by Herman Knight. He was born in Belchertown on May 10,1875 in the northern section of town known as Knight’s Corner. Educated in the Pelham schools, New Salem Academy, Hyannis Normal School and special courses at Harvard University, he started his teaching career in Belchertown, teaching at East Hill and Chestnut Hill district schools for five years. Moving on to other towns, he advanced to Principal of schools in Uxbridge and Abington. He served as Superintendent of Schools in Maine and Massachusetts before returning to Belchertown in 1926 as Superintendent of Schools of Belchertown and Enfield, retiring in 1941. Mr. Knight was president of the Belchertown Historical Association for many years. His obituary in the Sentinel sums up his interest in the Association. “His membership in the Historical Association, of which he was president for so many years, mapping out tours of extreme interest, and his own collection of antiques, indicated his appreciation of the long and weary, yet interesting road that had been trod by our forbears in their upward climb. This reverence for the past, combined with his outlook on the present and his hope for the future in the rising generation, with which he was always in close touch, made one ever glad to journey with him on his happy explorations in this realm of interest and of that.

The broadside is a gift of Timothy Knight of Orient, Maine, former resident of Belchertown, son of Howard Knight and grandson of Herman Knight, and a fourth generation descendant of Aaron and Miranda (Root) Knight of Belchertown.. We are always grateful when people remember the Association as a repository for their gifts that help tell the story of the history of Belchertown. ###