Joseph Hawley. In Hawley Massachusetts: The First Fifty Years 1770-1820, Harrison Parker writes, “On February 7, 1792, the Town was finally incorporated. It was named after the Honorable Joseph Hawley of Northampton, a leader of Western Massachusetts throughout the Revolution.” A biography of Major Joseph Hawley III by Elias Sill Hawley, (Historical Sketch of Major Joseph Hawley of Northampton, Massachusetts, 1723-1788, A Reprint from “The Hawley Record,”1890) gives a picture of the character and life of this man, and an understanding of why the settlers of Plantation #7 chose to name their town for him.
Here is an excerpt from that “Sketch.”
The Legislature of this year (1766) received an accession of three eminent members, who were returned to it for the first time: Joseph Hawley, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams. Major Hawley, a representative from Northampton, acquired a very remarkable influence in the public councils. Perhaps Massachusetts can boast of no citizen in all her annals more estimable. He continued in the legislature until 1776, and during that period it has been said that no vote on any public measure, either was or could have been carried without his assent. Major Hawley was a patriot without personal animosities, an orator without vanity, a lawyer without chicanery, a gentleman without ostentation, a statesman without duplicity, and a Christian without bigotry. As a man of commanding talents, his firm renunciation and self-denial of all ambitious views would have secured him that respect which such strength of mind inevitably inspires, while his voluntary and zealous devotion to the service of his countrymen established him in their affection. His uprightness and plainness united to his ability and disinterestedness, gave the most extensive influence to his opinions, and in a period of doubt, division and danger, men sought relief from their perplexities in his authority, and suffered their course to be guided by him when they distrusted their own judgments or the counsel of others. He, in fine, formed one of those manly, public-spirited and generous citizens, ready to share peril and decline reward, who illustrate the idea of a commonwealth, and who, through the obstructions of human passions and infirmities, being of rare occurrence, will always be the most admired, appropriate, noble ornaments of a free government.
It is believed that Major Hawley was never actually in the Town of Hawley.
Reverend Jonathan Grout
In her History of the Town of Hawley, Franklin County, Massachusetts 1771-1951 with Genealogies (1953), Louise Hale Johnsonquotes the voting records that trace the process by which the town agreed to build the first meetinghouse and invite Jonathan Grout to become Hawley’s first minister:
“Jan. 14, 1793: Voted to build a meeting house, 40 x 50 feet. Chose Joseph Longley, Thomas King, Edmund Longley, Nathan West and Hezekiah Warriner to superintend the work. Voted to apply to Mr. Jonathan Grout to preach with us the ensuing season. An order was issued to several families, by order of the Selectmen to the Constable, to depart the town. The reasons for issuing this order are not given. Other similar orders followed. One source of information lists as the reason for these orders, differences in the religious beliefs of the people.”
Harrison Parker notes,
“Jonathan Grout, of Westborough, Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard University in 1790 and came to Hawley in 1793 to become the first Minister of the First Congregational Church. Grout was ordained at Hawley on October 23, 1793.”
. The epitaph on his gravestone in Doane Cemetery reads:
This stone was erected by the First Parish in Hawley to the memory of the Rev. Jonathan Grout who departed this life June 6, 1835 in the 73rd year of his age and the 42nd of his Ministry. He was the first Minister in Hawley. Great unanimity among his people prevailed during the ministry of this devoted servant of Christ.
Edmund and JosephLongley were Revolutionary War officers from Groton, Massachusetts. They were among the very first settlers to buy lots and build homes in Plantation #7, following its sale to land speculators in 1771.
After the town, renamed Hawley, was incorporated, in 1792, Longleys dominated town politics until the Civil War. Thomas Longley was the proprietor of a tavern/post office located at the old Town Common at “Hawley Four Corners” in East Hawley (now the intersection of Forget and Grout Roads).
The Hunt Family
Josiah Hunt came to Hawley with his son, Elisha, from Williamsburg, Massachusetts, in 1801. They purchased land from the Longleys, built houses and barns, farmed, and had a shop/mill. Josiah eventually returned to Williamsburg, but Elisha and his descendants have played important roles in Hawley affairs through the generations. Elisha’s grandson, Lucius, fought in the Civil War, was Hawley’s Town Clerk and Treasurer for 21 years, and was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1892. His first wife was Sarah Eldridge Holden.
The daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Sears Howes, Mercy Howes (1812-1869) married Anson Dyer in 1833 and they had 5 children. Dyer served briefly as the minister of the West Hawley Congregational Church, but he had some sort of emotional breakdown and was removed.
After her husband’s breakdown, Mercy worked as a midwife in the surrounding towns. Then, when she was nearly 50 years old, she entered the New England Female Medical College – the first institution to admit women to the study of medicine – and completed the course of study required of a licensed physician.
International economist and researcher, Harrison Parker (1924-2000) was a Hawley community leader and historian. He is pictured seated, watching his sister, Alice Parker Pyle, sign the registration book on Hawley Day, August, 1981.
Mary Ann Clark Harmon
Mary Ann Clark Harmon (1841-1922)j, wife of Charles Thatcher Harmon (1839-1927), in front of her East Hawley home.
Born in October, 1889, Myra Gould was the daughter of Albert L. and Clara A. Gould.