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The Sorriest Month By Phil Pothier ............................... 3

Consolidated Schools By Ross Haseltine ............... 4

February 1951 By Clifton J. (Jerry) Noble Sr ...............8

When You Feel Overwhelmed By Jeff King ................10

New England Cottontails By Walter Fertig ................12

Graveyard Chronicles XXII By Southwick Historical ....14

Cold War Visit to Southwick By James Putnam II ...... 16

Ghostly Barn Owl By Carlene Americk .................. 18

A Drover’s Inn By Wilhelmina Tryon ....................... 20

Thoughts By Bernadette Gentry ................................... 22

Classifieds ..................................................................23

Through the remainder of this year, Southwoods will be running past articles retelling stories of Southwick’s past for the upcoming celebration of Southwick’s 250th Anniversary.


By Phil Pothier

Of all the months there is a month we do not seem to care for.

I often wonder, frankly, friend, just what this month is there for.

It doesn’t fit the rhyme that tells the days a month should carry.

Ah, yes, my friend, this sorry month, the month of February!

It has but twenty-eight short days, all in mid-winter’s season.

One year in four gives twenty-nine, defying normal reason.

The weather in this dreadful month is bad beyond description,

Which often sends us to the drug store with a new prescription!

And no one says the name just right although they all deny it.

And if you don’t believe me, friend, I challenge you to try it-

Feb-u-ary, no, Feb-oo-ary, try again, Feb-rary Feb-rrr- y, Give up? Feb-roo-ary! Aren’t you glad it’s March?


By Ross Haseltine

Talk of consoli-dating Southwick’s rural schoolhouses dates back to 1897 when the superin-tendent at the time briefly mentioned it in his report. The superintendent in 1911 did the same.

There was a lot of opposition to consolidating. It was March 31, 1924 before the vote to build a centralized school passed.

There was much debate before the five-acre Goddard property along the college highway was officially chosen as the site for the new consolidated school. It was selected in a vote (152 to 55) during a special town meeting on April 9, 1928.

Other sites, includ-ing the Healy lot and the Jackson farm, both on Depot Street, were previously voted down because they were not deemed centrally locat-ed; a key requirement. Additionally, the Healy property required ex-tensive grading, which would have driven up costs considerably. And Jackson farm, priced at $12,000.00, was $5,000.00 more than the Town was willing to pay for a site.

The Southwick born architect Malcolm B. Harding de-signed Consolidated School. Construction started and the cornerstone was laid on June 19, 1928.

The school contained a central auditorium (seating ca-pacity: 400), which could double as a gymnasium. Four classrooms lined each side of the auditorium. Each of the eight classrooms contained a wardrobe, which when closed revealed a useable blackboard. In the rear of the auditorium were boys and girls bathrooms, each with running hot and cold water. On the first floor, facing the front of the building was the library and some staff offices, a balcony and com-

The Southwick Time Machine presents:



mittee room above them. Also on the ground level was a book storage room and first-aid room. The boiler room was in the basement as were a couple play-rooms and the caf-eteria.

Southwick’s famed Gillett’s Har-dy Fern and Flower Farm provided and planted the trees and shrubs in the front of Consolidated.

The School was dedicated on May 10, 1929 (although some sources incorrectly list the 9th). The dedication ceremony in-cluded prayer, an orchestra, and the singing of “America.” A flag raising ceremony followed on the 24th. Six first-graders carried a flag to Miss Eliza E. Vining who raised it. Her fa-ther, Jasper (May 18, 1848 - Apr. 13, 1926), raised the first flag years earlier at Southwick’s Dickinson Grammar School, and the town flag in the Center in 1917.

The school’s 315 or so students sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” saluted the flag, then went into the auditorium where the story of “Pandora’s Box” was presented.

In the same year it opened, a terrible tragedy occurred

near the school. Flor-ence Johnson (6) and her brother, heading home for Thanks-giving recess, were struck by a passing automobile as they got off their school bus. Florence was killed but her brother survived. It is inter-esting to note that on the same day and on the same stretch of road, Southwick Inn owner Amos Beahn was struck and killed as he crossed College Highway in front of his hotel. Following the accidents, all four of Consolidated’s school buses were upgraded with what is believed to be the first of its kind safety equipment.

Overcrowding was a constant problem at Consolidated, especially following World War II; so much in fact that the auditorium was temporarily converted into two large-size classrooms. Class was also held in the balcony.

To be continued in March 2021




By Clifton (Jerry) Noble, Sr.

The record from my Journal continues.

February 6. 1951, Tuesday. The survey chief with whom I am now working is Larry Clarke from Northampton. He has been ill, so I have been running the four man party. We are putting baseline down the West Springfield dike for a relocation of Route 5 between North End and South End Bridges.

It was good to have Larry back today. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get the fellows to move.

I have applied for the Junior Civil Engineer examination for the State of California. My former boss, Bob Percival, in Fresno, has sent sample questions.

On the way home from work yesterday I took Hester (nick-name for my mother, Minnie E. Noble) up to Montgomery to vote for Selectman. Today’s paper tells that Fred McQuat won 54 to 37 over Mr. O’Donnell.

Helms had a chimney fire. Ethel went out at midnight to check the cattle and saw flames from the chimney lighting up

the neighborhood. Per-cy climbed a ladder to dump salt down, then shoveled snow till it went out.

Saturday morning I walked north. I left a cream bottle and fudge at Rivards. It was cold and ice made walking treacherous. But a val-ley walk in the morn-ing is a thrill. Rabbit and fox tracks run here and there. A squirrel bounds across the road, and hen pheasants fly up. Three bridges cross Roaring Brook in the two miles out to Main Road. I saw red 50-foot station tags in Main Road near Crow Bridge where state surveyors have been working.

I made the 3 ¼ miles to Kelso’s in 45 minutes. Etta was resting. She has heart trouble, but was able to call Hester today and talk about the election. Myron was out with Roy Hall col-lecting absentee ballots. I passed them on New State Road, and was surprised to see all the new summer cottages that have been built.

Raymond Avery was loading the town pickup at the sand pile by the town hall. He asked about our road and came later to sand the hills. The last storm something happened to the Russell plow so Raymond had to plow all the way down to the Russell mill. This made him late but he got more ice off. Roads done in the night on top the mountain were two inches deep in ice.

I continued out Russell Road past Cushman’s, Halls and Karl Helms. At the top of the mountain by Butman’s the road was posted “Closed,” but I got down the last mile and a half by noon. Nine miles in 2 ½ hours. Sunday morning I walked to Russell for the newspaper and took Hester for an afternoon ride to Chester. Found two cars stuck and putting on chains on our road. While waiting I put on chains using Mae Smith’s system of draping them over the wheel and driving onto them.

February 12, 1951, Monday. Last Friday Aunt Florence Boyce invited us to dinner Saturday. Temperature skidded down to 12 degrees below zero. I slept downstairs getting up to tend stoves in schoolhouse and well house. It was too cold to



CJN and 1949 Plymouth at “Schoolhouse” (1950) “It was too cold to leave the house for long.”

Feb 2010


leave the house for long. I phoned Aunt Florence that we would come in the afternoon. We arrived about two. Conversation was stiff. Suddenly Aunt Florence glared at Hester and exploded, “You don’t like me at all, do you?” Treasured grudgery came out. She forgets listening to Uncle Sam’s false-hoods about Hester. She forgets that days after my father died she told my mother, “I’ll take Jerry, and you can go to work.” Her fa-natic jealousy showed when her sister Mary was given a nice doll and Florence punched its eyes out. Then she became jealous of a pretty girl whose innocence won my father’s love. It was a wild hour. My mother said, “Jerry, let’s leave and never come back.”

I started to state the truth as I’ve known it, hoping for faith to cure the in harmony. But Aunt F. took everything I said about success and loyalty to Hester as mere Noble modesty and sac-rifice. She said, “You look so like your father.” Other observers say that I resemble my mother and the Emersons.

Aunt F. asked Hester to forgive her, but sounded insincere. Hester’s look was one of deeper misery and hurt than I’d ever seen. She doesn’t need such hostility.

February 20, 1951, Tuesday. Last Sunday a flock of robins lit on Peckham’s meadow. They may be a month early.

The Daneks doubled the rent from $25 on the Southamp-ton Road house (in Hell’s Hollow) where a murder took place, so the Albrechts are looking for another summer place to rent.

My cousin Lester Emerson gave his wife, Mabel, an electric sewing machine for Christmas. It will take two years to pay for it. He is still paying for his car and some of Mabel’s operation bills.

February 22, 1951, Thursday, Washington’s Birthday. This afternoon I took a nine mile hike. I went south through Russell and along Route 20 five miles to the bridge in Worono-co. The Russell road crew were working at the end of the bridge, and got a kick out of the fact that I had walked all the way from home. There is a street of 15 houses beyond the Community Building, all housing two or three families.

The road back to Montgomery crossed the railroad near the station but I didn’t know this and got lost. Beyond the houses and garages I met two blue-eyed boys in red parkas with bows and arrows who said they were hunting rabbits. They told me how to find the road I wanted. When I said I had

walked from Russell and was go-ing back through the mountains, one of them said, “Aw, it’s easier to bum.” To them Russell seemed an awful distance to walk. Across the railroad I found my road, waved goodbye to the boys, and the walk up the valley was a joy.

When new that road was only for adventurous teams. Only six or seven feet wide it squirms along the mountainside crossed by brooklets that have had their way with it for years. If it were not for the possibility of rattlesnakes, I should like to try that road next summer.

(Author’s note: In 1967 my wife and son left me in Worono-co so I could hike that track through the woods with a walkie talkie while they walked Russell Road down the valley back of Shatterack to meet me. I met a few men at the only house remaining in the valley. Today I’m not sure about the condition of that road along the mountain base west of Tekoa.)

I passed a tumbled-down barn, a wasted orchard, and two cellar holes. One of these had belonged to the Helms house where Percy was born. A larger brook gushed down the gully and I had to find a way to cross and follow my trail. The sunlit valley was pleasant, but even when people lived here it must have been lonely. Shatterack Brook was running full. Woods were wilder. Pheasants flew. Upstream I crossed and found the old road up the valley. Then came a surprise. The roar of the brook grew louder. The path steepened, and off to my right I saw a white sheet of foaming water maybe 40 feet high, a real cataract.

Beyond the waterfall the road seemed familiar and I came out on Russell Road at the sharp curve where men have been cutting witch hazel. At the bottom of the mile down the moun-tain I found tracks of another hiker headed to Russell. Hester said he had just passed.

This winter we have an oil-burning stove instead of wood for heat. Its tank only has to be filled once a day but its pot and feed line have to be cleaned so tonight that’s what I did.

Woronoco Bridge, Strathmore Mills and Inn (White) 1951


Are you feeling overwhelmed? Like you’ve got too much coming at you. Too much pulling you down. Too much pressure. But here’s what I know about you

You have bounce-back!

Every summer my family has a reunion in Sint Maarten. My parents, my sister, my cousins for a couple of weeks in June we turn into beach bums! Recently that island was hit by the worst Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. We actually watched the storm hit in real time through webcams. We saw whitecaps crashing through the lower stories of the resort, smashing out windows, and ripping away walls. Finally, when the wind reached 225 mph, the cameras themselves were destroyed.

Here’s the surprising thing. The island was levelled, like an atomic bomb was dropped on it. But there was one thing that wasn’t destroyed the palm trees. Why? Because God designed the palm tree to withstand storms.

Unlike most other trees, a palm tree is able to bend so it will not break. In fact, certain kinds can bend over until the top is almost touching the ground. During a hurricane, it may stay bent over for hours. It looks as though it’s done, as though it’s finished.

I can imagine that hurricane huffing and puffing, thinking, I may not be able to blow you down like I can that big old oak tree, but at least I can keep you bent over. At least I can keep you from ever standing up tall again.

That hurricane keeps blowing and blowing, thinking it’s winning the battle. But after a few hours, it runs out of strength. And you know what happens next? The palm tree stands right back up as it did before!

Why is that? God put bounce-back in the palm tree. It may get pushed over, it may get bent to the ground, but it’s only temporary. It’s just a matter of time before the palm tree rises up again.

The Bible says, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.” It could have said we’d flourish like an oak tree and get big and strong. It could have said we’d flourish like a pine tree and grow tall and straight. But, no, it says we’re going to be like a palm tree.

The reason God said we’d flourish like a palm tree is that God knew we go through some storms, we’d go through some difficult times. He knew things would try to push us down. So, He said, “I’m going to make you like a palm tree. I’m going to put bounce-back in your spirit.”

What’s interesting is that you would think that when the palm tree is bent over in the hurricane, that’s damaging it and making it weaker. But research shows just the opposite is true! When it’s being pushed and stretched, that’s strengthening the root system and giving it new opportunities for growth. After the storm, when the palm tree straightens back up, it’s actually stronger.

The same is true with you. You may get pushed and stretched. But when you come out of the storm, when you straighten back up, you’re not going to be the same. You’re going to be tougher, smarter, better off, and ready for new growth. You’re not only going to be standing; you’re going to be standing stronger.

You’ve got to have a warrior mentality.

Like David against Goliath!

Goliath was huge. Jacked. Ripped. He was almost 9 feet tall. He wore 125 pounds of armor strapped to his bulked-up body.

David was 5 foot 8 inches tall if he stood on his tip toes.

When You Feel Overwhelmed


Lean. Wiry. Dressed in a shepherd’s robe.

Everybody said, “David, he’s so big, you can’t beat him!” David said, “He’s so big, I can’t miss him!”

That’s a warrior’s mentality.

As Goliath walked toward him, what David do? He ran forward to meet him, swinging a slingshot. He released. The rock was a blur. The giant fell.

That’s the kind of mentality we’ve got. And that’s the kind of God we’ve got. He’s got our back. When our enemies tower over us, when our problems try to overwhelm us, God steps up and says, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s my child. That’s my son. That’s my daughter. If you’re going to mess with them, you have to first mess with Me. Who am I? I am the All-Powerful Creator of the Universe. When I said, ‘Let there be light,’ light burst forth at 186,000 miles per second.” God looks at your enemies and says, “You want a piece of this? Go ahead and make My day!”

When you go through tough times, you have to realize you’re not alone. The Most High God is fighting for you. He’s got your back. He’s brought you through in the past, He’ll bring you through in the future.

Now you have to do your part and grab your slingshot.

You can’t sit around in self-pity and think about what you lost, who hurt you, and how unfair it was. That’s going to keep you down.

Shake off that weak, defeated Why did this happen to me? mentality and have a warrior mentality. A warrior doesn’t complain about opposition; a warrior loves a good fight. It fires him up.

The more difficult the battle, the more strength you’ll have. Your strength will always match what you’re up against.

I saw a story on TV about a man who came up to a car that

had crashed on the highway. There was a person trapped inside the burning car. The man, who was a lot smaller than me, grabbed the top of the door frame and somehow ripped the door away from the car so he could pull that trapped person out. They showed a picture of the steel frame, which looked like something a movie superhero had bent. They asked the man how he had done it. He said, “I don’t know. I just pulled as hard as I could.”

When you do what you have to do, you’ll discover strength that you didn’t know you had.

You are not weak or defeated; you are a warrior. You have resurrection power on the inside. You may be down right now, those winds are blowing, but like that bent-over palm tree, you’re not going to stay down. When all is said and done… when the dark storm passes… and the floods and winds subside... you’ll still be standing. Not the victim... but the victor!


“I am at a loss to know whether it be my hare’s foot which is my preservative, or my taking of a pill of turpentine every morning.” observed colonist Samuel Pepys in 1665. Regardless of the truth of this statement, it is clear that rabbits have played an important role in the folklore and life of Americans from earliest times. Whether being hunted for the pot, kept as pets, used as symbols in children’s fables or observed living freely, rabbits have endeared themselves to man.

Of all the rabbit species found in the eastern United States the most common and familiar are the cottontails. These rabbits are noted for their oversized ears and hind legs, which make them appear larger than their actual 2-4 pound weight and 14-inch length. Cottontails get their name from their bushy, white, cotton ball tails, the most colorful feature of these otherwise earth-toned animals.

Two kinds of cottontails inhabit the northeast, the most abundant of which is the eastern cottontail. This species occupies a wide range of habitats, including heavy brush, swamps, forest edges, meadows and even suburban lawns and gardens. Much rarer is the New England cottontail. Although similar to its relative the eastern cottontail, this second variety is distinguished by having a dark patch on its forehead and by dwelling in more mountainous areas.

Both species of cottontail have similar habits. They both burrow in the ground or inhabit underbrush in a home range of between 3 and 20 acres. Cottontails are most active from twilight until dawn, remaining concealed for most of the day. During evening hours they feed extensively on twigs, bark and all orders of vegetation.

Even under cover of darkness, cottontails are always alert for predators. At the first sign of danger rabbits crouch silently in hopes of remaining unseen If pursued they will zigzag, jump, doubleback and even swim to elude their enemies and gain the safety of their burrow. Nonetheless, cottontail populations suffer huge losses to foxes, bobcats, weasels, snakes, hawks, owls and other predators and parasites.

Cottontails are able to offset the effects of predation because of their high reproductive rate. These rabbits are capable of breeding at six months of age and can produce 3-4 litters each season.

Male rabbits initiate courtship in the early spring. When wooing the larger females, the males often fight violently among

February 1985


themselves. Such behavior may have inspired the phrase “mad as a March hair”. With courting completed, cottontails prepare a form, or nest, usually just a depression in the ground lined with grass and fur.

One month later, the female gives birth to 4-7 infants. Unlike the young of jack-rabbits and true hares, cottontail babies are born blind and helpless. With parental care and nursing the young rabbits grow quickly and are able to leave the nest after two weeks. Adolescent cottontails remain with their mother until they reach full size at 5 months.

In spite of predation and the activities of man, the eastern cottontail has remained abundant. Indeed, these animals can often become pests because of their foraging in human gardens. In such situations the eastern cottontail seems to frustrate our best efforts to being them under control by remaining numerous.

The same, however, cannot be said of the New England cottontail. Gradually the New England cottontail is being squeezed out by loss of habitat and increased competition with its eastern cousin. Cottontails from the midwest, introduced into the range of the New England cottontail as part of restocking programs of the 1940’s and 1950’s have proven more successful at adapting to man and are now replacing the native populations.

The decline of the New England cottontail has caught the attention of the federal government and the species is being considered for inclusion on the endangered species list. Hopefully, with man’s assistance, the rabbit will continue to survive in the northeast.



Welcome Family

of Southwick Part One

By The Southwick Historical Society, Inc.

There are, in old lore, tales of three brothers who came to this country from abroad. In this case, three brothers came to South-wick, Massachusetts from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania instead. Joseph, George, and John were their names, sons of Joseph and Margaret Welcome, each born about 6 years apart, in 1813, 1820 and 1826. The excellent qual-ity of tobacco grown in the Connecticut Valley attracted them to Southwick where all

three became cigar makers.

Joseph, the eldest, married a local girl, Charlott Rising, daughter of Caleb and Charity (Palmer) Rising in 1843 in South-wick. They lived here from then on until Joseph’s death in De-cember 1871. His widow continued to live here until she died in March 1896. There are no children recorded for that couple.

The second son of Joseph and Margaret, George Welcome, on the other hand, had a large family of 9 children. George married an Irish girl named Mary Doyle before leaving Penn-sylvania. Their first two children, Joseph and George Jr. were born there. The other seven were all born in Southwick from 1848 through 1859. Bachelor John A. Welcome lived here until at least 1880 and then moved to Detroit, Michigan where he died in 1893. His body was brought back to Southwick to be buried with his parents and siblings in the Old Southwick Cemetery. The next son Joseph did not marry either. He died in Westfield in 1900 and was also buried in Southwick.

Next in birth order was the first daughter Charlotte, born in 1851. “Lottie” married Alvin R. Fowler in 1867 and she was shown as divorced in the 1880 U.S. census. Alvin R. Fowler was born in Brownville, Jefferson Co., New York, and after his brief stay in Massachusetts, he was enumerated back in Jefferson County in 1875. Here is a quotation which might explain Alvin Fowler’s departure from Massachusetts: “He was a peddler for Theron Rockwell’s powder mill and left his horse and wagon in Waterbury, CT and ran off with money and unpaid debts, leav-ing a wife and child.” Alvin R. Fowler died at age 76 in 1918; he was buried in Brownville Cemetery.

On January 31, 1886, Charlotte (Welcome) Fowler married Joseph B. Manigan. They moved to Prospect, Connecticut where Joseph worked as a hotel keeper. Charlotte died in Pros-pect on March 1, 1904, and she was buried under her maiden name of Welcome with her family in the Old Southwick Cem-etery. Her husband Joseph Manigan died in 1905, and he was buried in Springfield Cemetery with his mother Luthera, his brother William and his maternal grandparents Oliver T. and Betsey Belcher.

George & Mary (Doyle) Welcome’s next child William, born in 1853, lived in Southwick, then Westfield and finally in New York City, where he was a brakeman for the railroad. He was married Hannah Reagan in 1854 and they were divorced before 1896 when he married Eugenia Yale Reynolds. William died in New York City on December 8, 1911 and was buried in Ever-green Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut. His widow Eugenia died in New York City in October 1929 and was buried with her husband.

A stillborn boy followed in 1855 and then yet another son,

Joseph Welcome’s grave at

Southwick Cemetery.


this one named Lathrop born in 1857. He married Clara Leon-ard of Agawam in 1882 and they lived in Southwick until he died in 1910. Clara died in 1915 and they were buried together in the Old Southwick Cemetery.

In 1859 George and Mary Welcome welcomed a second daughter Ellen, nicknamed Nell. She married Martin Farrell about 1880 and they lived in Westfield until he died in 1902. His gravestone in the Old Southwick Cemetery says “Martin Farrell” and Ellen’s stone next to his says simply “Dear Nell.”

It is quite amazing that we have found that George and Mary (Doyle) Welcome had only two grandchildren, even though they had nine children.

Grave of Lathrop and Clara Welcome at Southwick Cemetery.


By James Putnam II

October 1962: American spy planes photographed launch pads for nuclear missiles being completed in Cuba. Ships from the Soviet Union were already bringing the missiles across the Atlantic. Once installed, the Soviet missiles could have targeted major East Coast cities for attack within minutes of launch. President Kennedy announced a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent delivery of the missiles. For a couple of weeks, neither side blinked as Soviet freighters drew ever closer to the U.S. Navy’s picket lines. Finally, at the 11th hour, 59th minute, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev backed down and nuclear Armageddon was avoided.

Historians generally agree that this Cuban Missile Crisis was the most dangerous moment of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and America, lasting from 1947 to 1991.

Here in Southwick, I was in Mr. Whiting’s 6th grade class. Our classroom was on the south side of the Consolidated School where the offices of the Select Board are now located. At home, most of us kids watched TV with our parents as President Kennedy grimly described the crisis. At school, stern-faced teachers drilled us on the need to quickly evacuate to the school cellar or out to the bus loading area in the

event of impending attack. We were warned to stay away from those large south-facing windows, but I do not recall practicing “duck and cover” under our desks. However, my older siblings remember that from earlier years of “civil defense” drills. Many years later, we all came to understand that had there been a surprise attack, all of these precautions would have been futile anyway.

On a bright sunny morning just 6 months later in April 1963, the Cold War came to our farming neighborhood in a more personal way. A People-to-People entourage of 27 Russians visited our family farm as well as neighboring Haas Dairy and Crestview Dairy Farm. Hosting this was a big deal to my Ma and Dad. It was to me also, although I did not then understand the larger significance. As the visitors eagerly spilled out of the bus, I recall thinking that they really did not seem much different than us. Then I heard them conversing in Russian, and the cultural difference was instantly clear.

The group was split, with my Dad taking some and my Ma the rest. I tagged along with Dad on the fringe of his group. Dad had a well-thought-out plan for what he wanted to show and tell them. That plan quickly got lost as multiple visitors vied in asking questions, all funneled through one interpreter. Only a couple of the visitors had any farming background, so most were not particularly interested in our farming practices and equipment. With a solid ring