Huntington Family Cross-Stitch


Dr. James Lincoln Huntington founded the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum in 1948. This Cross-stitch shows Dr. Huntington as a young boy with his family. Stitched in 1900, the image depicts his family members in age order. Underneath the family reads "E M P to L St A H", meaning the cross-stitch was given to “L St A H”- Lily St. Agnam Huntington, Dr. Huntington’s mother- from someone with the initials ‘E.M.P’. The cross-stitch currently hangs in the second floor South East Bedchamber of the museum where Lily summered after her husband’s death. Following are short bios of this Huntington family who assisted Dr. Huntington in founding the PPH museum.

Click here to view the online finding aid for the PPH collection at the Amherst College Archives.

George Putnam Huntington

George Putnam Huntington, born in 1844, was the first of Frederic Dan and Hannah Dane Sargent Huntington’s seven children. George, like his father, became an Episcopal minister and was ordained Deacon in 1868. In 1869, George became the first rector of St. Paul’s Church in Malden, Massachusetts, where he met his wife, Lily St. Agnam Barrett. Upon his retirement from St. Paul’s, the women of the parish made him a quilt which is now on display at the PPH museum. Lily and George married in 1874 and had six children: Henry “Barrett”, Constant, James, Michael “Paul”, Catharine, and Frederic (Freddie); each depicted in the cross-stitch. In 1904, just 15 years after Freddie was born, George died, possibly from typhoid fever. And just four hours prior to George’s death, his father Frederic Dan passed away. On July 11th, 1904, Barrett, Constant, James, Paul, Catharine, and Freddie, lost both their grandfather and father in a matter of hours.

Lily St. Agnam Barrett Huntington

Born in 1848 in Malden, Massachusetts, to Henry and Lucy Theodora Gellineau Steams Barrett, Lily St. Agnam was raised Unitarian but baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal faith in 1874 and married the rector of her parish, George Putnam Huntington. The couple lived and raised their first four children in Malden until 1884 when, due to George’s failing health, they moved to Ashfield, Massachusetts, where they had two more children. Now closer to the family home in Hadley, “Forty Acres”,Lily, George, and their six children often summered there. At 56 years old, Lily became a widow while still taking care of her youngest three children. In the fall of 1904, a few months after her husband’s death, Lily bought a house in Leicester, Massachusetts, where she lived with Paul, Catharine, and Freddie, until each went off to college. A few years later, in 1908 or 1909, Lily moved to Lexington, Massachusetts where she lived until 1920. By this point, her children had modernized the family home at “Forty Acres,” where Lily summered until her death in 1926.

Lily with Barrett, James, and Constant

Henry Barrett Huntington

Henry Barrett Huntington, known as Barrett, was the first child of George and Lily. Barrett was born in 1875 in Malden, Massachusetts. In 1893, he attended Harvard and later taught English Composition and Literature at Harvard, Dartmouth, and Brown University. After the death of Hannah Dane Sargent, his grandmother, in 1910, Barrett tried to run “Forty Acres” as a dairy. However, as Barrett lived in Providence, Rhode Island, and didn’t commute to Hadley often, his dairy was not successful. In 1905, Barrett married Alice Howland Mason. Alice and Barrett had four children: Elizabeth, born in 1906, twins Arria Sargent and George Putnam, born in 1909, and Mary Hopkins, born in 1915. Alice died in 1946 at the age of 65, Barrett died 19 years later in 1965.

Constant Davis Huntington

In 1876, George and Lily’s second son, Constant Davis Huntington, was born. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Constant attended Harvard in 1895. In 1902, Constant became the head of G.P. Putnam’s Sons Publishers, first in New York and then in 1905, in London. Constant and his wife Gladys Theodora Parrish had one daughter: Georgiana Mary Alfreda, born in 1922. Until his death in 1962, despite living far away in London, Constant remained involved in the Hadley family home as his brother James worked towards opening the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum in the late 1940s.

James Lincoln Huntington

The third son of George and Lily, James Lincoln Huntington was born in 1880. Although James was born in Malden, his family moved to Ashfield in 1884, when James was four. In 1902, James graduated from Dartmouth College and attended Harvard Medical School five years later. As an obstetrician and gynecologist, James studied in Germany and later practiced in Boston. In 1911, James married Sarah Higginson Pierce and together they had two sons: Benjamin Lincoln, born in 1912, and John Higginson, born in 1916. James and Sarah divorced in June of 1944 and in December of the same year, James married his second wife: Agnes Genevieve Keefe. In 1948, James founded the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum where he gave tours until his death in 1968.

Michael Paul St. Agnam Huntington

Known as Paul, Michael Paul St. Agnam Huntington was born in 1882 in Malden as the fourth son of George and Lily. While his brothers all went away to boarding school, Paul was chronically ill as a child and remained home. In 1902 Paul attended Harvard University, then Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1906, and Cambridge Theological Seminary in 1914. Three years later, in 1917, Paul was ordained Deacon and served as Priest at Emmanuel Church in Boston. In 1922, Paul married Lona Marie Goode. Lona died in 1956, at just 59 years old after they had been married for 34 years. During those years, Paul and Lona had three children: William Paul, born in 1923, David Mack Goode, born in 1926, and Charles Phelps, born in 1928. In 1937, at 9 years old, Charles was killed in an automobile accident. Paul not only outlived his wife by 11 years, but also his youngest son by 30. Paul died in 1967.

Catharine Sargent Huntington

The only daughter of George and Lily, Catharine Sargent Huntington was born in 1887 and was the fifth of six children. In 1911, Catharine graduated from Radcliffe College which had been founded just 32 years prior. When it was founded, Radcliffe was nicknamed the “Harvard Annex” as it provided women education and instruction from Harvard faculty. After she graduated, Catharine taught English at a boarding school in Connecticut and later worked with the YMCA in France. In 1927, Catharine was arrested at a demonstration against Sacco and Vanzetti’s execution. Along with her activism, Catharine was largely involved in American theatre. In 1940 she founded the Provincetown Playhouse, in 1938 founded the New England Repertory Theatre in Boston, and in 1965 Catharine won the Rodgers and Hammerstein award for “having done the most in the Boston area for the American theatre.” Further, on her 97th birthday, Catharine was recognized by Governor Michael Dukakis and the Massachusetts Legislature for her contributions to American theater. Catharine died in 1987 at the age of 99. Click HERE to learn more about Catharine Sargent Huntington.

Frederic Dane Huntington

Freddie Huntington, the sixth and youngest child of George and Lily, was born in 1889. When Freddie was just 14 years old, his father and grandfather died on the same day. Freddie was therefore supported through school by his mother and five older siblings. In 1912, Freddie attended Harvard and was admitted to the Bar in 1915. However, Freddie wasn’t able to practice law for very long before he became Sargent of Artillery of the Massachusetts National Guard in Mexico in 1916 and was sent overseas the next year as a captain in World War I. Before returning to the United States in 1919 after the war had ended, Freddie served at Chemin des Dames and Meuse-Argonne, two battles that were crucial in the Allies’ offensive effort during the war. After the armistice of November 11th, 1918, which ended the fighting of World War I, Freddie was detailed as Judge Advocate. In 1924, Freddie married Elsie Entress. There is evidence that Freddie may have suffered from PTSD after his return from World War I. Soon after his 49th birthday in 1940, Freddie committed suicide after killing his dog in the Old Hadley Cemetery. His wife, Elsie, died eight years later.


Family, Porter-Phelps-Huntington. “Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, 1698-1968 (Bulk 1800-1950) Finding Aid.” Text. Accessed August 21, 2019.

Huntington Family Genealogical Memoir — Supplement 1915 to 1962. Norwich, CT: The Huntington Family Association, 1962.

Huntington Genealogical Memoir — 1633 to 1916. Hartford, CT: Huntington Family Association, 1915.

“Our History.” Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Accessed August 21, 2019.

The Women of Phelps Farm: Sarah Phelps and Ruth Huntington Sessions

A portrait Sarah Phelps by her niece Ellen Bullfinch.

“Our glance rests more gladly upon the gentle lady herself, portrayed as we last saw her, with the lace cap on her soft white locks and the bit of black velvet at one side, which brought out the rosy softness of her cheek.”[2]

Sarah Phelps was born in 1805, the third child of Moses “Charles” Porter Phelps or “Porter” and Sarah Parsons Phelps. In 1817, her father made the decision to move his family from Boston to a home he built in 1816 on land he acquired after the death of his father. Phelps Farm was just across the street from his childhood home, Forty Acres. In the process of moving, Sarah’s mother, Sarah Parsons Phelps died of Typhus. Porter, Sarah, and her five siblings moved to Phelps Farm with Charlotte Parsons, her mother’s cousin, who helped care for the family. Charlotte and Porter later married in 1820 and had four surviving children. Charlotte died in 1830. Porter died in 1857, leaving Sarah to care for her brothers Theophilus, Billy, and Charles who remained at home.[1]  

Ruth Huntington Sessions remembers her cousin Sarah Phelps throughout her writing. Ruth grew up spending her summers at Forty Acres. She spent time with her cousins Sarah, Theophilus, Billy, Charles, Caroline, and Ellen. After Sarah died, her sister Charlotte and her daughter Ellen Bulfinch inherited the house. It is unclear where the three brothers lived during this period. In the summer of 1892, Bishop Frederic Dan Huntington, Ruth’s father, rented Phelps Farm from the Bulfinches for Ruth and her husband Archie for the summer. Ruth and Archie lived in Brooklyn where Ruth longed for the countryside where she had spent her childhood summers. The following year, Frederic Dan purchased Phelps Farm from Ellen Bulfinch, making it Ruth’s summer home in 1893.

It is clear in Sixty Odd, Ruth’s memoir, and in “A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago,” printed in the October 1899 issue of The New England Magazine, that once Ruth arrived to live at Phelps Farm, she felt a deep connection to Sarah. When Ruth wrote this story, she had been living at Phelps Farm for seven summers and felt a profound connection to her cousins and to the history of the house, as described in Sixty Odd,

As we opened the door and entered in, it was like being suddenly touched with the spirit of the old Phelps ancestors, and finding unseen personalities waiting for us with a welcome. [3]

Upon her initial inspection of the house as described in her memoir, Sixty Odd, Ruth chose Sarah’s bedroom to be her own.

In “A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago,” Ruth illuminates Sarah’s life at Phelps Farm. Ruth also delves into Sarah’s intellectual history by exploring her library. She refers to Sarah as “Miss Lucia” to protect her identity. Ruth remembers Sarah in the beginning of the story,

A glance from her keen, dark eyes, glowing to the last with the last with the fire of appreciation and sparkle of wit, might have convinced once that the young Boston beauty who, in the midst of her girlish conquests and gay companionship, was called to turn her back upon life, as it were, and settle down into monotonous existence for scores of years, did not acquiesce in this without full realization of the joys she was leaving, and did not voluntarily resign the interchange of thought and repartee to which she had long been accustomed.[4]

Ruth believed that Sarah gave up her independence and prospects in life to become the unmarried caretaker of her siblings after her mother’s death and the move to Phelps Farm.

Ruth found hope and hints of agency in Sarah’s life through her library works of various genres: poetry, cooking, education, travel, history, philosophy, biography, French, and  novels. Ruth concludes after reading poetry in Sarah’s library that,

It is pleasant to think that by lines like these an optimism and courage were kept alive which made life bearable even in the seclusion of an Old farm, amid the performance of harsh duties and dreary association with decayed or repressed mental powers.[5]

Sarah’s library, for Ruth, was an important tool in understanding her personality and capabilities; giving the family caretaker a world outside of her life at Phelps Farm.

To continue reading  “A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago” click   HERE  or on the image of the page above . The story is printed on pages 145-153 of the October 1899 issue of  The New England Magazine  and has been digitized by Google from an original at University of Iowa. It can also be found in Box 126, Folder 43 of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers on deposit at Amherst College.

To continue reading “A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago” click HERE or on the image of the page above. The story is printed on pages 145-153 of the October 1899 issue of The New England Magazine and has been digitized by Google from an original at University of Iowa. It can also be found in Box 126, Folder 43 of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers on deposit at Amherst College.


[1] See Ruth Huntington Sessions’ Sixty Odd pages 128-131 for Ruth’s memories of Theophilus, Billy, and Charles.

[2] Ruth Huntington Sessions, A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago, The New England Magazine, October 1899, 153,

[3] Ruth Huntington Sessions, Sixty Odd: A Personal History, (Brattleboro: Stephen Daye Press: 1936), 298.

[4] Ruth Huntington Sessions, A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago, The New England Magazine, October 1899, 145,

[5]Ruth Huntington Sessions, A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago, The New England Magazine, October 1899, 151,


Amherst College Archives and Special Collections. “Description of the Papers.” Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers. amherst/ma30_odd.html#odd-cpp

Carlisle, Elizabeth Pendergast. Earthbound and Heavenbent: Elizabeth Porter Phelps and Life at Forty Acres, 1747-1817. New York: Scribner, 2004.

Sessions, Ruth Huntington. “A Lady’s Reading Eighty Years Ago.” The New England Magazine, October 1899, HaithiTrust, digitized by Google from an original at University of Iowa.

Sessions, Ruth Huntington. Sixty Odd: A Personal History. Brattleboro: Stephen Daye Press, 1936.

"Natural working of the carnal and unrenewed heart"

PPH bible 1.JPG

Moses “Charles” Porter Phelps sat down in 1857, the same year he passed away, to compose his autobiography. He wrote,

“The unsteadiness of my brain and the tremulousness of my eyes have prevented me from making much progress in the memoranda… and as the difficulty seems to have increased considerably within the last two or three weeks, I may probably be unable to enter into any minute or regular details of incidents that occured in our family history subsequent to the birth of Edward…” (32)

But in the eloquent accounts that follow, Charles still found a place for heartfelt remembrances of the two most beloved women in his life - his first wife, Sarah Parsons, and his mother, Elizabeth Porter Phelps. Sarah was described with grey eyes, “rather mild than piercing, and the combined expression of her countenance indicating at once the soundness of her understanding, and the tenderness of her heart.” (79) Elizabeth, though not of the same “strong and vigorous” intellectual powers, “was a most indefatigable reader.” And as her son remembered best, Elizabeth’s “religion was deep seated in the heart, and [she] was rigidly Calvinistic, as was then the prevailing creed of all New England.” (83)

In his final days, Phelps wondered whether his mother - and resultantly, he too - were governed by an oppressively incomplete image of God. “I think she must have viewed the power and sovereignty of GOD as overshadowing all his attributes of Love and Mercy” (83). The threatening image of a God who only judged and destroyed still lingered from his upbringing, and he had no doubt that in his mother’s adulthood, the same “shade of gloom often overspread the usually bright and cheering prospects of [her] religious experience.” A dutiful follower of preached Christian principles, she was impeccably kind and careful in her speech, but perhaps easily burdened by self-criticism and fear of retribution. “In mixed society she was cautious and guarded in her conversation, and I never heard her speak evil of any one. The law of kindness dwelt always upon her lips.” (83)

            Charles recalled his earliest idea of God as “all powerful, angry - and world hating.” But his knowledge of the Bible, the story of Christ’s sacrificial love… didn’t match up.

“And yet this was the Being required to love — a Being who, with such conceptions as I could then form of him, I could not possibly regard except in the light of an enemy, who was ready with uplifted arm to crush and destroy me.” (84)

Taking his sister’s lead in the 1820s, Phelps had converted to Unitarianism, where he found a fresh lens through which he could consider God and the Bible. Unitarianism distinguished each part of the Holy Trinity as completely separate entities, sometimes defining Jesus as a son, but not a part of God the Father. Still, Charles sought and struggled to define a God that would give him hope. He continued,


 “Indeed such is the image, which even to this day is very apt to rise spontaneously in my mind when the thought of God presents itself. The reasoning faculty may do much to produce true and correct results at last, but I have to this day found it impossible wholly to obliterate the deep impression made upon me by the teachings, feelings, and associations of my early youth. And even now, when standing on the verge of life, a cloud of doubt and despondency often settles down on the mental vision — and almost for the time, extinguishes every hope that the Gospel would inspire.——— But perhaps all this may be only the natural working of the carnal and unrenewed heart.” (84)

Like his mother’s later diary entries, Charles’ autobiography served as a space for some of the most challenging and time-ripened reflections. He grappled with the dichotomy between persistent fears of a hateful judgment and that “very hope that the Gospel would inspire.”

Click to peruse thoughts from Elizabeth’s diaries at In Elizabeth’s Words, learn about Charles Phelps, or read about Charles’ property established across from Forty Acres at Phelps Farm.



Phelps, Charles (Moses) Porter, Autobiography (1857) Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers Box 10 Folder 21 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

Biographical sketch of (Moses) Charles Porter Phelps, Finding Aid, Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers. 1987-88.

Adam James Huntington

Adam James Huntington, the great-grandson of Dr. James Lincoln Huntington who founded the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum in 1948, stopped by for tea and a tour on Saturday, August 10th. Adam came wearing a tie that belonged to his grandfather, John Higginson Huntington, author of "A Bean From Boston". Adam will be off to study architecture at RPI this fall. Last time he visited PPH, he was just two and attended the 250th family reunion!

Click on images to enlarge them

Adam James Huntington

John Higginson Huntington

Dr. James Lincoln Huntington

Embroidered Samplers and Women’s Education in 19th Century America

In early 19th Century America, young girls were predominantly educated within the home. Although many girls in prominent, wealthy families could attend dame schools, their education was limited to what would prepare them for their future roles as wives and mothers. Different expectations of the roles of men and women meant vastly different approaches to their educations. In the late 18th Century, embroidered samplers played a crucial role in a young girl’s education. Not only did these samplers teach girls basic embroidery techniques, but they also learned the alphabet, numbers, and sometimes a biblical verse. At the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, we have on display four samplers embroidered by Mary Dwight Huntington, Bethia Throop Huntington, Catherine Whiting Fisher, and Eliza Fitch Lyon. Growing up just before women’s colleges like Mount Holyoke, founded in 1837, and Smith, founded in, 1871, became a common path for women, Mary, Bethia, Catherine, and Eliza, not only watched their brothers, sons, and nephews attend college, but also some of their daughters and nieces.

Mary, Bethia, Catherine, and Eliza, as they relate to each other

Mary D. & Bethia T. Huntington

Mary Dwight Huntington’s Sampler

Bethia Throop Huntington’s Sampler

Born in 1815 as the ninth of Dan and Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington’s eleven children, Mary D. Huntington made this sampler at the age of 10, on February 14th, 1826. Mary’s older sister, Bethia T. Huntington, the fourth of the eleven, made her sampler at eight years old in 1814. Until her death in 1839 at the young age of 24, Mary wrote to and received many letters from her older brother, William Pitkin Huntington. In 1826, William writes to Mary admiring how fast she was able to make sheets and pillows. In addition to this, it seems that Mary’s, as well as Bethia’s, education went beyond these household skills. In 1831 and 1832, William wrote his sisters numerous letters in French. William writes, “mais ce que je regarde avec le plus l’intérêt c’est vos études francais,” which roughly translates to, ‘but what I find the most interesting is your French studies.’ He continues in his letter to explain various grammar rules of the French language to Mary. This raises the question of whether the sisters were formally studying French in any capacity, or whether it was just William who thought they should be proficient in a foreign language. In fact, Mary, Bethia, and their two sisters were students at the Troy Female Seminary, founded in 1814 by Emma Hart Willard. Subsequently called the Emma Willard School, the school provided young women with an education comparable to that of young men at a time when women were barred from colleges. Mary and Bethia’s education was reaching beyond the sewing, alphabet, and numbers they were taught through their samplers. With institutions like the Emma Willard School, the focus of women’s education was beginning to shift from household tasks to a curriculum which included mathematics, science, history, foreign language, and literature.

Catherine Whiting Fisher

Catherine Whiting Fisher’s Sampler

Catherine Whiting Fisher, Granddaughter of Elizabeth Whiting Phelps and Dan Huntington, and niece of Mary and Bethia, was eight years old when she made this sampler. Similar to Mary and Bethia, Catherine frequently corresponded with her brother, Edward Fisher, while he was away at college and she remained at home. Interestingly, on September 24, 1859, Catherine receives a letter from an S. Dilloway that reads, “I am glad you propose to be a teacher.” As women’s education was becoming more mainstream during Catherine’s childhood with institutions like the Emma Willard School, teaching was becoming an acceptable and achievable career path for women. Women’s education continued to grow during Catherine’s lifetime as women’s colleges were founded. One of Catherine’s nieces, Eleanor (Fisher) Grose, attended Smith College. So, through the three generations of Bethia and Mary, Catherine, and Eleanor, women’s education was transitioning from preparing women for motherhood, to opportunities in teaching, and eventually to higher education.

Eliza Fitch Lyon

Eliza Fitch Lyon’s Sampler

Eliza, aged eight when she made this sampler, was the daughter of Samuel Huntington and Mary Warner. Dan Huntington was Eliza’s great uncle, making Mary and Bethia her first-cousins-once-removed and Catherine her second cousin. Eliza married Theophilus Parsons Huntington, also her second cousin, making Eliza and Catherine sisters-in-law as well. Eliza and Theophilus had three children: Walter Elliot, who served in the civil war, Maria Whiting, and Edward Dwight. Unlike her relatives Mary, Bethia, and Catherine, it seems that Eliza’s formal education did not expand beyond this sampler. She married Theophilus in 1837 at the age of 19 and had her first child in 1842 at the age of 24. In contrast to this, Mary, Bethia, and Catherine, never married but each received a more formal education than Eliza.

Click here to read more about how marriage, or the choice to remain unmarried, affected the lives of women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.



Finding Aid, Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers. 1987-88.

Peck, Amelia. “American Needlework in the Eighteenth Century.”

Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, on deposit at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library.


Whittaker's Planisphere

The toy closet in the Long Room is home to many interesting objects, including a Whittaker’s Planisphere, a tool for charting the stars and constellations. Thomas Whittaker was a publisher with Thomas Whittaker Publisher, Bookseller, and Importer and also sold other tools for scientific education. This planisphere was made in Germany and the one Whittaker sold had been adapted for the United States. It cost 60 cents in 1888.  It is made of cardboard and on the back of it has instructions on how to use it. Unfortunately, the instructions on the one in the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum have worn off. Due to the immense popularity of the device in the late 1880s and early 1890s, it seems that the Whittaker’s Planisphere would have belonged to James Lincoln Huntington and his siblings or other cousins of the sixth generation of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family.

IMG_8945 2.jpg

In an advertisement in The Protestant Episcopal Review in April of 1894, Whittaker explained two of the products he was selling, the Whittaker Anatomical Model or “Manikin” and the planisphere. The planisphere was described as,

a device composed of a movable disc and a frame, by means of which you can locate any star in the heavens at any hour in the year. It also enables one to find out the hour of sunrise and sunset for any day. Those who have purchased Whittaker’s Revolving Planisphere know well its value as a teacher of astronomy. Over seventy-five thousand copies are now in use.[1]

The back of the Whittaker’s Planisphere in the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum.

The back of the Whittaker’s Planisphere in the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum.

In 1894, the planisphere’s cost had risen to 65 cents. In the 1888 full page advertisement in Publisher’s Weekly, Whittaker sold the planisphere among other books and described the planisphere as “the cheapest and most practical device for the study of the stars at home or in school that has ever been offered.”[2]

As described in the advertisement placed in an issue of the Literary World, to see the stars “at any hour in the year,”[3] from the Whittaker’s Planisphere, one had to rotate the card, which had the month, date, and zodiac sign printed on it to match with the hour printed on the overlaid piece of cardboard, so that it reflected the time when one was using it. The overlaid piece of cardboard had an oval shaped opening that revealed the stars for the time at which it was used.[4] Therefore, one would have been able to see the stars and constellations  “at any hour in the year.”[5]



[1] Thomas Whittaker, “And What Is a Planisphere,” The Protestant Episcopal Review 7, no. 7 (April 1894): 7.

[2] Thomas Whittaker, “Thomas Whittaker’s Announcements for the Fall Season,” The Publisher’s Weekly

34 (September 22, 1888): 448.

[3] Thomas Whittaker, “And What Is a Planisphere,” 7.

[4] Thomas Whittaker, “Whittaker’s Planisphere,” The Literary World 19, no. 22 (October 27, 1888): 357.

[5] Thomas Whittaker, “And What Is a Planisphere,” 7.


Aasmaster. "Booksellers' and Bookbinders' Labels Collection Name List." American Antiquarian Society. December 28, 2018. Accessed July 31, 2019.

"Antique Whittaker's Planisphere." Everything But the House. February 23, 2016. Accessed July 31, 2019.

Whittaker, Thomas. “And What Is a Planisphere.” The Protestant Episcopal Review 7, no.7 (April 1894): 7. b&sig=ACfU3U204E7B_FRrRlY0jakTXPwQ-jhaIQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj89cf0k93jAhW XXM0KHa39AtMQ6AEwEnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=thomas%20whittaker%20planisphere&f=false

Whittaker, Thomas. “Thomas Whittaker’s Announcements for the Fall Season.” The Publisher’s Weekly 34 (September 22, 1888): 448. pg=PA448&lpg=PA448&dq=thmas+whittaker+planisphere&source=bl&ots=4GLDWPg0wf&sig=ACfU3U18AWwgoWPYALpqcW1asKINchrsOg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj89cf0k93jAhWXXM0KHa39AtMQ6AEwD3oECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=thomas%20whittaker%20planisphere&f=false 

Whittaker, Thomas. “Whittaker’s Planisphere.” The Literary World 19, no. 22 (October 27, 1888): 357. ers+planisphere&source=bl&ots=2hlfZH62iS&sig=ACfU3U1YeDeV0KNtVdffOk3LemxjFqQwPA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiu5LX1r93jAhVPKqwKHaUuCng4ChDoATAIegQIBhAB#v=onepage&q=whittakers%20planisphere&f=false


Thankful Richmond: "Adopted" Daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Phelps

Adoption was not officially established in Massachusetts until 1851, when the Massachusetts Adoption of Children Act was passed.[1] Still, Elizabeth and Charles Phelps raised Thankful Richmond as their daughter after her arrival to Forty Acres as a small motherless infant in December of 1776. Here, she grew up with her new siblings Porter and Betsey.

The Phelps Family Genealogy as printed in  Earthbound and Heavenbent,  with permission of author Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle.

The Phelps Family Genealogy as printed in Earthbound and Heavenbent, with permission of author Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle.

Elizabeth Porter Phelps wrote in her diary on September 13, 1772, announcing the birth of her and Charles Phelps’s first child, Moses “Charles” Porter Phelps. Porter, as the family called him, died in 1857 at the age of eighty-five. Elizabeth gave birth to Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington in 1779 who lived until 1847, dying at 68 years old. In between the births of her two surviving biological children, Elizabeth gave birth to another son, Charles Phelps, in December of 1776. On December 8, 1776; Elizabeth Porter Phelps wrote in her diary about the death of infant Charles. She wrote,

... our babe not well in the Evening took with a sort of a fit, sent for Aunt Marsh— held having such distressed turns grew worse and worse— sent for Mr. Hop in night— he Baptized him Charles—he expired about half after 7. O Lord our God may we take a proper notice of it. Sanctify it to our best Good— it was the Lords by Dedication ever since it had Life and surely it may suffice me that the Lord has taken it away.[2]

Shortly after, on December 29, 1776, Elizabeth wrote about the arrival of an infant whose mother had died shortly after childbirth to Forty Acres. She wrote, “Satter, one Richmond brought his child here about a fortnight old— the mother had twins and Left ‘em when about one week old— she died.”[3] Her name would be Thankful Richmond, later Hitchcock, and she would grow up as Porter and Betsey’s sister, and Charles and Elizabeth’s daughter. Thankful’s father was named Zebulon Richmond and the name of her mother is unknown.[4] Thankful’s twin sister was placed with another family.[5] In her diary entry for July 26, 1778; Elizabeth wrote, “This Day Thankful Richmond Baptized upon our account.”[6]

A 1794 letter from Elizabeth Porter Phelps addressed to her daughters. Box 5, Folder 2, Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections, Amherst, Massachusetts.

A 1794 letter from Elizabeth Porter Phelps addressed to her daughters. Box 5, Folder 2, Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, Amherst College Archives & Special Collections, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Thankful grew up as a member of the Phelps family. She was educated with Betsey, her sister. Based on various letters and Thankful’s interview with Sylvester Judd at the end of her life, Elizabeth Pitkin Porter taught her reading and writing.[7] Later, in 1791, Betsey and Thankful lived with and were educated by the Cutler family in Amherst.[8] In 1796, Thankful married Enos Hitchcock. After their marriage, they lived with her parents, Charles and Elizabeth, at Forty Acres for a year and a half until Enos was financially secure enough for the couple to have their own home. In 1798, Thankful, Enos, and their newborn son, Charles Phelps Hitchcock, moved to Brimfield, Massachusetts.[9] Thankful later gave birth to two daughters. Martha was born in February of 1800 and died in August of 1801 at eighteen months old. In January of 1802, Thankful gave birth to another daughter, also named Martha. Based on letters between Betsey and Elizabeth, Thankful had a tumultuous marriage, seemingly due to Enos’ alcoholism and financial instability. Enos Hitchcock died in 1811, and Thankful moved back to Forty Acres, her childhood home.[10] In 1816, she moved into Porter’s newly-built home across the street from Forty Acres, known as Phelps Farm.[11] In 1814, Charles Phelps died without a formal will, which meant that his estate would have been divided between only Betsey and Porter, his two biological children. But Charles declared on his deathbed that he wanted to leave two five-acre plots to Thankful and her son.[12]

Without adoption formally established in Massachusetts until 1851, Thankful was never legally acknowledged as their daughter.[13] But throughout letters and diaries, she is referred to as their daughter, included in the collective noun of their “children,” she refers to them as her parents, and Elizabeth Pitkin Porter is referred to as her grandmother. No matter what, Charles, Elizabeth, Betsey, and Porter made sure that Thankful and her children were cared for and secure throughout their lives. As Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle wrote in Earthbound and Heavenbent, “the Phelpses essentially adopted her as their daughter.”[14]

For more information on Thankful’s life see Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle’s Earthbound and Heavenbent. You can read more about Thankful’s generation of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family on our website and on the finding aid for the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers at Amherst College. And as always, we recommend touring the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum to learn more about the six generations of the family.


A special thank you to Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, the author of Earthbound and Heavenbent, for her expertise on Thankful.

[1] “Massachusetts Adoption of Children Act, 1851,” Timeline of Adoption History ,The Adoption History Project, last modified February 24, 2012,

[2] Elizabeth Porter Phelps, The Diary of Elizabeth (Porter) Phelps, in Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers [Box 9]. On deposit at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library, ed. Thomas Eliot Andrews with an introduction by James Lincoln Huntington in The New England Historical Genealogical Register. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, Jan. 1964), p. 236.

[3] Elizabeth Porter Phelps, The Diary of Elizabeth (Porter) Phelps, 297.

[4] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, (New York: Scribner, 2004), ix.

[5] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, (New York: Scribner, 2004), 89.

[6] Elizabeth Porter Phelps, The Diary of Elizabeth (Porter) Phelps, 305.

[7] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, (New York: Scribner, 2004),129.

[8] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, 130.

[9] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, 136, 138-139.

[10] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, 254-255.

[11] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, 278.

[12] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, 276.

[13] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, 88.

[14] Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Earthbound and Heavenbent, 88.

Reflections from David Mack Goode Huntington


David Mack Goode Huntington, born December 18th, 1926, is the great, great, great, great grandson of Moses and Elizabeth Porter who, in 1752, built what is now the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum. For six generations, the family lived in and later summered in this Hadley home, and today, descendants like David, are involved in the museum and keep the history of the family alive. From transcribing his father’s diaries to donating to the museum’s collections, David has played a large role in preserving his family’s history. David’s father, Michael Paul St. Agnan Huntington (known as Paul) was born in Malden, Massachusetts on August 26, 1882. Paul was the fourth son of George Putnam and Lily St. Agnan Barrett Huntington. Paul’s older brother (David’s uncle), Dr. James Lincoln Huntington, opened the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum and gave tours here until his death in 1968.


Although David was born in Delaware, grew up in New York, and went to school in Massachusetts, he writes in his book, Hadley Memories, “underneath it all, my place will always be this piece of land along the Connecticut River known as Hadley.” Despite not growing up in Hadley, the home his great, great, great, grandparents built still holds a special place. Like his father and grandfather, David spent time at the ‘old house’, as he calls it, during his summers as a child.

Now retired, he spent fifteen years in administrative post at Harvard and the University of Chicago, and more than twenty as executive director of what is now the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. David is the author of two books, Hadley Memories, and First Flight and Other Stories, both of which are available for purchase at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum.

Recently, David shared this piece of prose with the museum and we want to share it with you:


Ruth Huntington Sessions' Reflections on the Third Women's Congress

PPH-Ruth Huntington formal portrait 2-Bx 136.jpg

Ruth Gregson Huntington Sessions was born on November 3, 1859, the sixth birth, but fourth surviving child of Frederic Dan Huntington and Hannah Dane Sargent. Like her older brother and sister, James and Arria, Ruth was also drawn to social justice causes until her death in 1946. Ruth’s lifetime covered the end of the Civil War and emancipation, women’s suffrage, and other Progressive Era Reform movements. Her sister, Arria, was elected to the New York State Board of Education before women in the United States had the right to vote. Her brother James, founded the Monastic Order of the Holy Cross on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and was involved with the Knights of Labor and with other radicals. Ruth’s 1936 memoir which she wrote at 72 years old, Sixty Odd, reflects on her childhood summers at “Forty Acres,” family, coming of age, and her rising consciousness.

When Ruth was sixteen years old, the Third Congress of the Association for the Advancement of Women was held in Syracuse New York. The Association for the Advancement of Women was founded in 1873. Their mission according to their constitution was, "to receive and present practical methods for securing to Women higher intellectual, moral, and physical conditions."[1] Among guests that year was Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women. Ruth reflects on Alcott’s presence in Syracuse for the conference when she stayed with the Mills family, who were friends of Ruth’s, “To see its [Little Women’s] author in person and hear her talk was a prospect which enlisted feminine interest, old and young, in the Congress itself.”[2] Ruth attended the Congress on its opening day. She notes seeing Mary A Livermore, Maria Mitchell, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton there. Maria Mitchell, one of the cofounders of the group, served as its president from 1875-1876, when the congress came to Syracuse. Mitchell was also the first woman to be a professional astronomer in the United States and taught at Vassar College.[3] Mary A Livermore, who Ruth notes as a friend of her mother’s, was an outspoken activist for the end of enslavement, women’s suffrage, and other Progressive-Era reform movements.[4] Livermore was a writer and involved with many groups, serving as the president of the Association for the Advancement of Women in 1873.[5] Despite Ruth’s awareness of these women and close proximity to the conference, she admits that at sixteen years old, she was ignorant of the growing women’s rights movement and as she puts it, “of the heroism which characterized those early days of woman's struggle for independence.”[6] Ruth remembers, as was typical for the time, believing “that the destiny of woman was to rule over a domestic kingdom as queen and mistress; man's guiding star, a beneficent influence, a wise mother, a gifted teacher or writer or musician if possible, but at least, failing more striking attainments, a contented housewife.”[7] Ruth does not credit her parents the beliefs she held surrounding women’s roles.[8]

Sixty Odd.png

The speeches delivered at the Third Women’s Congress turned Ruth “head over heels, for the Cause of Woman,” with big hopes and dreams for her future inspired by women like Mary A Livermore.[9] Ruth later became a writer, a founding member of the Consumer’s League, an outspoken proponent for women’s rights, and a house mother at Smith College, where today, Sessions House still stands in honor of her.

You can read more about Ruth Huntington Sessions on our website and on the finding aid for the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers at Amherst College. And as always, we recommend touring the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum to learn more about the six generations of the family.


[1] “Maria Mitchell and Women’s Rights,” Vassar Encyclopedia, accessed July 16, 2019,

[2] Ruth Huntington Sessions, Sixty Odd: A Personal History, (Brattleboro: Stephen Daye Press: 1936), 99.

[3]Britannica Academic, s.v. "Maria Mitchell," accessed July 16, 2019,

[4] Britannica Academic, s.v. “Mary Ashton Rive Livermore,” accessed July 16, 2019,

[5]Britannica Academic, s.v. “Mary Ashton Rive Livermore,” accessed July 16, 2019,

[6] Ruth Huntington Sessions, Sixty Odd: A Personal History, (Brattleboro: Stephen Daye Press: 1936), 99.

[7] Huntington Sessions, Sixty Odd, 99.

[8] Huntington Sessions, Sixty Odd, 99.

[9] Huntington Sessions, Sixty Odd, 104.

Association for the Advancement of Women. Souvenir Nineteenth Annual Congress of the Association for the Advancement of Women Invited & Entertained by the Ladies’ Literary Club. 1877. 128.

Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, on deposit at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library.

Women’s Suffrage and How it Affected the Lives of Unmarried Women in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Born in 1848 to Hannah Dane Sargent and Bishop Frederic Dan Huntington, Arria Sargent Huntington was the eldest of her five siblings. As a member of the fifth generation of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington family, Arria would have spent her summers at “Forty Acres” when she was growing up in Syracuse. As an adult, Arria devoted much of her time to philanthropy, she founded The Shelter for Homeless Women and Girls, the Working Girls Club, and was involved in many other organizations. Arria was the first woman elected to public office in Syracuse where she would serve on the New York State Board of Education from 1897 to 1903 (two decades before women even had the vote). Despite having numerous suitors, Arria would never marry. While uncommon at the time for a woman to choose to remain unmarried, Marla R. Miller writes about a woman from the late eighteenth-century, Rebecca Dickinson, who also chose to remain unmarried despite being proposed to. In her book, Rebecca Dickinson: Independence for a New England Woman, Miller writes,

“In late eighteenth-century New England being unmarried did not necessarily mean having liberty or feeling free. On the contrary, women without husbands were dependent on others—usually fathers, brother, or nephews—who would decide their fate.”

In addition to the lack of independence Dickinson would have experienced, she also writes in her journal about feeling lonely: “…this lonely habitation where there is no voice nor nothing but one old odd being.” (August 20, 1787) She later writes about “those lonesome death-like thoughts” and describes her house as “a tomb.” Although Dickinson had a successful career as a skilled craftswoman and at times writes about the joys of remaining unmarried, these quotes from her journal paint her as the stereotypical lonely ‘old maid’ that Miller discusses in her work. However, when we look at Arria’s life, the image we see is one of success and independence.

While Dickinson lived during the late eighteenth-century, Arria wasn’t born until the mid-nineteenth-century, so what was happening at this time to enable an unmarried woman like Arria to be so successful and independent while just half a century earlier, women like Dickinson didn’t have control over their own lives? The answer lies in the 1840s when women’s suffrage began to gather support. While Dickinson died in 1815 and would not have been around to experience the growth of women’s suffrage, Arria was born in 1848 and would have grown up in the middle of this blossoming social movement. 54 years after Dickinson’s death, and just 21 years after Arria’s birth, the first national suffrage organization was established in 1869; the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Arria died in 1921 and just barely saw the 19th Amendment ratified, but she lived at a time when women’s independence and equality was the focus of the American public. Therefore, while remaining unmarried for Dickinson meant she didn’t have control over her own fate, as Miller argues, Arria was able to succeed in a society where women were able to make such choices and still maintain their independence. 



Baratta, R Catherine. Arria Sargent Huntington's curriculum vitae (created by Dr. Baratta as a class handout). 1999 

Miller, Marla R. Rebecca Dickinson: Independence for a New England Woman (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2014).

Huntington, Arria S. Under a Colonial Roof-Tree: Fireside Chronicles of Early New England. Syracuse: Woolcott’s Bookshop, 1905.

“Obituary of Arria S. Huntington” from the Provincetown Journal. Sunday, June 9th, 1996.

Elizabeth Whiting Phelps’ Engraved “Button Box”


Nestled in the Georgian style window seat in the northeast bedchamber, Elizabeth Whiting “Betsy” Phelps’ “button box,” similar to a sewing kit, is out on display. It was made between 1750 and 1800 and gifted to Elizabeth sometime before she married Dan Huntington in 1801. Elizabeth participated in the local sewing society and also taught  the practical skill to her daughters. As she mentions in a letter to her son Edward in 1841, “Bethia, who is sewing at my side, sends her love to you…” Today, visitors can see a sampler sewn by Bethia on display in the house.

The small wooden box is made in the Shaker style which can be recognized by the single strips of wood with tapered ends that form the sides of the cover and box. The Shaker community emigrated to North America in the 1770s and carried their tenets of humility and honesty into their craftsmanship. They developed a style that did not “deceive” through ornamentation and veneers, but revealed nails, seams, and sites of attachment with a focus on proportion and simplicity. 

It is likely the Huntington family continued to use the button box for several succeeding generations. Hanging out from the lid, two spools connect to silk thread stored inside. Engraving on the spools indicate that the thread sourced from Belding Corticelli Richardson, a popular high-quality manufacturing company whose precursors held an early factory in Northampton, MA, but did not establish this title until the 1920s. Such personalized objects would have held a particular value within the family collections.


“Belding Brothers & Company, Silk Manufacturers — Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library.” Accessed July 1, 2019,

Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington, “Elizabeth Huntington to Frederic Dan Huntington, Mar. 29th, 1845,” Global Valley, accessed July 2, 2019,

Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington, “Elizabeth Huntington to Edward Huntington, Dec. 13th, 1841,” Global Valley, accessed July 2, 2019,

Vincent, Author: Nicholas C. “Shaker Furniture | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Accessed June 30, 2019.

Happy Fourth of July!

Every year, the Fourth of July recognizes the United States’ Declaration of Independence from England. Although people mark the day with fireworks and parades, Elizabeth Porter Phelps’ diary does not contain an entry from July 4th, 1776. However, selections from her diary illustrate the material experience of frontier life during the war, as well as her anti-Loyalist leanings, which were remarkable for a gentry family like her own.

Collis, The Huntington Family Railroad Tycoon

When walking up the central stairwary of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, it’s impossible to miss the prodigious oil portrait on the left wall. With a width of twenty-seven inches and a height of thirty-five inches, the painting depicts a man with white hair, beard, and mustache. His light features are a stark contrast against the dark black suit jacket and hat which blend into the dark background. At a glance, there is no doubt that the painting is of someone significant.   

The man in the painting is Collis Potter Huntington, also known as one of the Railroad Tycoons. Collis is the second cousin once-removed of Dan Huntington. Both are direct relatives of Samuel Huntington, a signer of the Declaration of Independence as governor of Connecticut and the previous President of the Continental Congress. According to the museum’s inventory card, the painting was commissioned by Collis’ sister, Ellen Huntington Gates (a hymnist and poet), while she was in Paris. It is unclear who the artist was, however, there is a photograph in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution that was most likely used by the artist to copy and create the painting.

Collis was an entrepreneur that was partially responsible for the success of the Central Pacific Railroad. Huntington worked alongside his fellow magnates Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins Jr., and Charles Crocker. Together, they were popularly known as the “Big Four” or “The Associates”. The four collectively invested in Theodore Judah’s engineering design, the Central Pacific Railroad (1861), which then became the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act, allowing for the Central Pacific to move east from California. The tracks were created at a very rapid rate and at a very low pay wage towards the thousands of Chinese laborers in order to rival the Union Pacific Railroad’s thousands of Irish laborers. (Learn more about the Chinese and Irish laborers’ history here: )

( Click to view full screen) Map of the central portion of the United States showing the lines of the proposed Pacific railroads, via the Library of Congress.

The railroad, initially, started from both sides of the country. The Union Pacific Railroad started in Omaha, Nebraska in 1865 and headed westward. The Central Pacific Railroad began laying down track in Sacramento, California in 1863 heading east. Their trek was incredibly foreboding because they had to go through the Sierra Nevada mountains, which included using a great number of explosives. The Union Pacific was mostly composed of Irish laborers and Civil War veterans, and they were often battling Native American tribes throughout the Rocky Mountains. Both tracks met in Promontory, Utah in May of 1869 and added up to be nearly 1,800 miles long. From there, the railroad had expanded, and the Southern Pacific Company acted as a holding company, before merging with the Central Pacific in 1959.

In addition to the railroad business, Collis helped to develop the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, as well as forming Newport News into an independent city. The famed Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California was created in his honor by his nephew, Henry E. Huntington. His step-son, Archer M. Huntington, created the Hispanic Society of America in Manhattan, New York.

If you are interested in reading more about this story, as there is so much more to tell, please check out the sources below.



- The Huntington Family in America: Third Supplement to the Genealogical Memoir of 1915. Huntington Family Association, 1971.

- “Collection Inventory.” Collis Potter Huntington Papers, Syracuse University Libraries Special Collections Research Center,

Union Pacific Railroad at Council Bluffs, Iowa, dated March 7, 1864 (38th Congress, 1st Session SENATE Ex. Doc. No. 27).

- Howard, Robert The Great Iron Trail. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1962. pg. 222

- “Immigration, Railroads, and the West.” Open Collections Program: Contagion, The Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, 1793,

- “Map of the Central Portion of the United States Showing the Lines of the Proposed Pacific Railroads.” Apple Computers: This Month in Business History (Business Reference Services, Library of Congress), Victor,,0.002,0.643,0.309,0.

General Lincoln's Parquet Tea Caddy

Tea has been a prominent custom since the mid-seventeenth century[1]. In the colonial era it developed as an important commodity, a political chess piece, and a symbol of prestige in society. The colonial tea table would not be complete without tea pots, teaspoons, lemon forks, infusers, sugar bowls, creamers, jam jars, saucers, and more. [2] All of these components and accessories were crucial to the tradition of tea, which was required for young colonists to become respected adults in society.

The British government began taxing tea in the 1760’s with the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. These acts and the colonists’ reactions built up to a climax of smuggling and outrage, which developed into the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773. As a result of the agitation over the taxes, we became a nation of prominent coffee and chocolate drinkers.

Pictured here, is a tea caddy that belonged to General Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810). The hand-made parquet wood box holds two tea tins and a middle tin for sugar cones. Previous to the invention of sugar cubes, sugar would come in small coned shapes. This explains the sugar tongs, placed above the tins in the photographs. The tongs were used to cut amounts of sugar from the cone and to place them in a hot cup of tea.

Caddies often came with the purchase of tea, but they came quite handy for those that travelled as much as General Lincoln. This caddy is most likely from England, who took the inspiration from Chinese canisters made of silver, ivory, lacquer, and tortoise shell.[3] The English typically made caddies from different types of wood (such as rosewood, satinwood, and mahogany) that were placed in elaborate or delicate designs.

At the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, tea is still an ongoing tradition every Saturday afternoon for our “Perfect Spot of Teas”. Often times, afternoon teas were for company and conversation with the accompaniment of live music. Locals would travel to Forty Acres ever since its construction in 1752, and Elizabeth Porter Phelps would often invite ten to fifteen couples to tea at least once a week. We still continue this tradition in 2018, with Earl Gray tea and pastries and live music!

William Cowper, an English poet and hymnodist, perfectly described the importance and the outlook of tea in his poem titled The Winter Evening as such: “the bubbling and loud-hissing urn / Throws up a steamy column, and the cups, / That cheer but not inebriate”.[4]


[1] Tea has been a custom well before the seventeenth century, especially in the Eastern Hemisphere where most tea originates from. Due to the focus of this piece being of Europe, I mention the seventeenth century to reference the tradition in Europe and England.

[2] Dolores Snyder, Tea Time Entertaining: A Collection of Tea Themes & Recipes (Dolores W. Snyder, 2004), 26.

[3] Ibid., 33. 


1809 Prussian Potsdam Musket

In the 1799 kitchen, a 19th century musket stands by the door that leads to the back veranda. Made of walnut and brass, the musket measures 76 inches overall with a 41.25 inch barrel and a 15.25 inch triangular bayonet. A number of visitors have asked questions of when or where this musket was used, or whether it would have been brought back by a Civil War veteran in the Porter-Phelps-Huntington family. Because of these inquiries, I grew curious about its origins.

The inventory card for the musket (X025) indicates a date range from 1800 to 1850. Based on a quote from Frederic Dan Huntington (1819-1904) it also “dates from the War of 1812… was changed from a flintlock…[and] is a Hadley Militia musket.” There are also incised numbers and initials along it’s base. To interpret the numbers and to understand the history of this musket, I contacted Alexander MacKenzie, Curator of the Springfield Armory.

The serial numbers tell this musket’s story. MacKenzie identified it as a Potsdam Musket, from the 1809 Prussian infantry. Just above the musket’s trigger, “F/Saarn” is incised on a brass plate. There are also incisions on either side of the butt plate: “233/L.W.B. 36./E” on one side and “94398/1909/1830” on the other. 1830 is the year it was made in the Prussian Royal Arms Factory in Saarn, Rhineland [1]. 233 would have been the tracking or rack number [2] and L.W.B stands for the Landwehr Regiment, where it was used.

As indicated on the inventory card, it was originally a flintlock [3]. MacKenzie described that it was most likely converted to percussion ignition around 1840. Many of the older models, like the Potsdam musket, were not in use in Europe by the 1860’s and would have been sold to countries that were in desperate need of arms. The Union Army during the Civil War bought nearly 126,000 of these muskets in the first few years of the war and, according to MacKenzie, to keep them out of the hands of the Confederate Army.

It is possible that this musket was used in the early Civil War and brought back to the house by a family veteran. The Union Army, by this time, however, was replacing these models by more modern fire arms from Springfield and Connecticut. After 1861, Potsdam muskets were sold as surplus military relics in North America. It is possible that this musket would have been purchased as a surplus item with the bayonet.

While the musket still stands guard at the very back of the house, its complete provenance remains a conundrum.



Pam, David, (1998). The Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield & Its Workers. Enfield: Published by the author. ISBN 0-9532271-0-3.

Alexander MacKenzie, Curator, The Springfield Armory.

"Prussian Model 1809 “’Potsdam’ Musket”. Horse Soldier. Accessed June 18, 2018.


[1] "Pattern 1809 Prussian Musket - The Battle of Waterloo." Royal Armouries Collections. Accessed July 01, 2018.

[2] A racking number was a quick way for the armorer to check for organizational purposes. Weapons had identification numbers to match a number placed in its corresponding location.

[3] Flintlock and Percussion Ignition: The flintlock ignition creates a spark made by the contact of flint and steel, called a frizzen. When the trigger was pulled, the flint would strike the steel creating a spark igniting the powder. Percussion ignition caps were “a system for utilizing fulminating salts to fire powder, and further specified as one of the chief advantages of his system that it prevented any escape of gas through the touch-hole”.


Canton ware Platter

The china cabinet, with the platter below (Accession Number C014.C)

The china cabinet, with the platter below (Accession Number C014.C)

Below the stocked china cabinet in the dining room at Forty Acres sits a heavy platter, sturdy yet embellished with delicate blue designs and scenes. It is octagonal, with a thick blue cross-hatched band and a scalloped edge that envelopes a tranquil landscape with boats, pagodas, islands, and soft waves. This piece entered the possession of the Stearns family some time before 1820, and would have originated in Guangzhou, China, the country’s one port open to trade with the West and the center of porcelain manufacturing and exports. The landscape scene would have involved the work of many hands—the painted designs were completed assembly-line style, with each artist adding one aspect of shading or line before passing on the porcelain. This platter belonged to the Stearns, the family of museum founder Dr. James Lincoln Huntington’s grandmother, Lucy Gellineau Stearns. The Stearns were from Salem, one of the largest hubs of porcelain trade outside of New York. Given the platter’s dating to the early 19th century, it most likely would have been purchased by William Stearns and Sarah White Sprague, Dr. Huntington’s great-great-grandparents. The Stearns were a merchant family; William Stearns (1754-1819) was an apothecary and grocer. In the late 18th  and early 19th centuries in New England, Canton ware such as this platter was both ubiquitous and accessible, especially as factories were established in England and the Netherlands to produce cheaper pieces in the Canton style that would be purchased by families like the Stearns. These cities on the Eastern coast began receiving mass quantities of Canton ware in the early 19th century, around when the platter came into the family’s possession, so much so that cargo ships counted the porcelain as part of the weight of the ship itself.

Lucy Gellineau Stearns, (1828-1916)

Lucy Gellineau Stearns, (1828-1916)


This demand for Canton ware in New England blossomed partially out of the status that the imported pieces symbolized, as well as the exoticized nature of the content of the scenes they featured. This platter features the typical content of Canton ware-- shan shui (hills and streams), showing pagodas, rivers, boats, fishermen, walled pleasure gardens that bordered mansions. For families like the Stearns and Huntingtons, these tranquil scenes were their only exposure to Chinese culture-- by the time Chinese migration to the United States began in the mid 19th century, the popularity of Canton ware had already died down. However, these stylized landscapes reflected the Western imagination’s conception of China rather than the country’s reality of political and social turmoil at the time. This craze of “orientalism” and its idealized, alluring vision of China went hand in hand with the West’s ‘dominating, restructuring, and having authority” over the country itself (Haddad 55). Thus, the foreign fantasy of the shan shui scenes depicted on the platter at Forty Acres represents the lack of awareness of China and its politics at the time that prevailed in the West—the destructive role of England in the Opium Wars, for example. However, the American perception of China as an exotic mystery eventually faded. As the intellectual and economic barriers between the West and China eroded over the course of the 19th century, the demand for Canton ware diminished. This platter remains as a relic of the Stearns and Huntington’s family’s interaction with a romanticized myth of China.

Canton ware platter (Accession Number C014.C)

Canton ware platter (Accession Number C014.C)



Cooney Frelinghuysen, Alice and Clare Le Corbeiller. “Chinese Export Porcelain.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 60, no. 3, 2003, pp. 1-60.

Haddad, John. “Imagined Journeys to Distant Cathay: Constructing China with Ceramics, 1780-1920.” Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 41, no. 1, 2007, pp. 53-80.

Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, on deposit at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library.

Stearns and Sprague Family Papers, MSS 192, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

For further reading on the Stearns family, see:

Heath, Douglas L. and Alison C. Simon, "The Lost Mill Village of Middlesex Fells," History Press, 2017. ISBN 9781 4671 36679.

Gilder Cornelia Brooke. Edith Wharton's Lenox. The History Press. Charleston, South Carolina. 2017

Thorsen, Linda Jean. "The Merchants' Manufacturer: The Barrett Family's Dyeing Businesses in Massachusetts and New York, 1790-1850" Thesis. Harvard University, May 2015.

A week of Preparations for the Huntington Family Thanksgiving

Theodore G. Huntington

Theodore G. Huntington

Theodore Huntington, the eighth child of Dan and Elizabeth Huntington's eleven, was born March 18, 1813 in Middletown, Connecticut. At the age of three, he moved with the family to Hadley. Shortly before his death in 1885, Theodore wrote a collection of reminisences he called "Sketches of Family Life in Hadley". Below are excerpts from his writings describing the extravagant Huntington Family Thanksgiving and its week-long   preparations. 



“Monday was devoted, of course, to the weekly washing and nothing must interfere with that. Tuesday was the great day for the making of pies of which there were from thirty to fifty baked in the great oven that crackled and roared right merrily in anticipation [of the rich medley that was being made ready for its capacious maw.” (34)


1799 Kitchen


"Two kinds of apple pies, two of pumpkin, rice and cranberry made out the standard list to which additions were sometimes made. Then in our younger days we children had each a patty of his own. These were made in tins of various shapes of which was had our choice, as well as of the material of which our respective pies should be composed.” (34)

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1797 Kitchen


“Wednesday was devoted to chicken pies and raised cake. The making of the latter was a critical operation. If I mistake not it was begun on Monday. I believe the conditions must be quite exact to have the yeast perform its work perfectly in the rich conglomerated mass. In due time the cake is finished. The chicken pies are kept in the oven so as to have them still not at the supper. The two turkeys have been made ready for the spit; the kitchen cleared of every vestige of the great carnival that has resigned for the last two days and there is a profound pause for an hour or two before the scene opens.” (34)

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Dining Room


"I remember once quite a sensation was produced in the little crowd because brother Theophilus lost his balance and for want of a chair to break his fall, sat down on one of the smoking hot pies! After cooling and sorting, the precious delicacies were put away into the large closets in the front entry of hall which the foot of tho small boy was not permitted to profune. “(34)

“There was still a more primitive way of roasting turkey and one which was resorted to sometimes when our family was at the largest. Room was made at one end of the ample fireplace and the turkey was suspended by the legs from the ceiling where was a contrivance to keep the string turning, and of course, with it the turkey. On the hearth was a dish to catch the drippings and with then the meat was occasionally basted. The thing is accomplished much more easily now, but at an expense I imagine in the quality of the work. “ (35) 



To read more of Theodore's recollections, follow the top link below to his sketches as well as the link to Theodore at the Amherst Archives in the bottom link!

 Sketches by Theodore G. Huntington of the Family and Life in Hadley, written in letters to H.F. Quincy.   

Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps (1772-1857)

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Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps was born August 8, 1772 to Charles Phelps and Elizabeth Porter, starting the third generation to have lived at Forty Acres. He spent his childhood at the family homestead in Hadley, leaving in the Spring of 1780, when only seven years old, to live and attend school in Northampton. Charles and Elizabeth were intent on Porter (nicknamed at the time) succeeding to Harvard. In 1784, Porter continued his education in Hatfield where he lived and studied at Reverend Joseph Lyman’s, a grammar school emphasizing the study of Latin and Greek. A week after his fifteenth birthday, Porter set off for Cambridge to enroll at Harvard College. There he diligently kept an account book following his father’s admonitions, also recording the latest urban fashion and pastimes taking place in Boston. He corresponded with his parents and siblings thorough letters, influencing his sisters Betsey and Thankful with the extravagance of fashion and material items in Cambridge. The archives hold a letter in which Betsey references her new silk stockings that Porter bought for her – the same stockings which Jane Austin had written her sister about, lamenting her inability to afford such luxury just four years earlier (Carlisle 131). Porter also sent Betsey a mandola for her to practice music, this instrument still sits on the sofa in the Long Room of the museum today.

While at Harvard, Porter was greatly influenced by the philosophers and theologians who expressed ideas for the liberation of the Calvinist Congregation and writers such as John Locke and Jean-Jacque Rousseau. This thinking amongst other things, may have caused Porter to switch his belief to the new Unitarian Philosophy in the early 19th century.  Porter graduated Harvard second in his class in 1791 and changed his name to the more formal Charles Porter Phelps.  Upon being awarded his master’s degree (also from Harvard) he gave a valedictorian speech in fluent Latin. Although today this would have been seen as a grand accomplishment calling for admiration, no mention of praise is seen in diaries or letters from the family. From Charles and Elizabeth’s Calvinist perspective, admiration of that sort would have been discouraged. Looking at Calvinism from today’s point of view we can suspect this admiration would have been seen as encouraging vanity. In his autobiography, Porter writes of his sensitive struggle with self doubt. A struggle that carried on throughout his life. He writes, 

This shrinking section has attended me thro life—and tho it may sometime have been productive of good, yet, having so often become its victim, I have no doubt that on the whole, it has proved baneful and disastrous. [i] 

Could this self doubt have been an after effect of the lack of approval and emotional support from his Calvinist parents?

In 1792, Porter headed to Newburyport to study and board under Theophilus Parsons, a prominent lawyer of the 18th century. Interestingly, John Quincy Adams had studied under Theophilus Parsons just four years earlier between 1787 and 1788. As well as being an esteemed lawyer, Parsons was also a strong advocate of the Massachusetts State and federal constitutions. Parsons, with the help of John Hancock, formed three amendments for the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. Porter stayed in Newburyport until a few months after the expiration of his clerkship there in January 1795. During his residence he had come to know Sarah Parsons, niece of his mentor Theophilus Parsons. Sarah had lived with her grandmother in Boston and upon her death moved to Newburyport in 1794, bringing the two closer together the months before Porter was admitted to the bar and left to open his own practice in Boston. By 1795, the two were engaged to be married. In June of that year a party was organized for a group of young people from Newburyport to attend an ordination in Haverhill. In his memoirs, Charles confesses that he did not know what controlled his action, but he invited another woman to accompany him—leaving Miss Parsons to try to find a seat with her Uncle’s family. He says, “what demon of folly—or madness—took possession of me I know not...and soon I felt that every attempt to apologize only exasperated the bitterness of the insult.” [ii]. His self-deprecation had caused him to shrink from any public display of his affection for Sarah whom he “most desired to propitiate and honor” [iii]. After the ordination party, Charles and Sarah grew cold to one another, leaving his sisters and mother to grow in fear that he would not find love—his best chance seeming to have gone. In May 1796, Charles Phelps (Sr.) and Elizabeth Phelps visited Boston as Charles (Sr.)  was representing the general court. While there, Elizabeth, upon meeting up with her son expressed a wish to visit an old friend living in Newburyport (knowing well that Sarah would be there). Charles Porter was to do his mother a favor by driving her in his chaise. Could this have been a covert plan by Elizabeth to rekindle the spark her son and Sarah Parsons once had? Porter took his mother’s intrusion happily and resolved to “make a final effort, either to restore myself to her forfeited favor or on the other hand to ensure the extinction of all my hopes by a repeated – and what in this case would inevitably prove to be – an irreversible rejection.” The plan worked successfully and the couple were once again awaiting their betrothal.


            While in Boston, Porter’s parents, Charles (Sr.) and Elizabeth, encouraged him to settle back home in Hadley and Porter felt his law office was not giving him the kind of success that ought to keep him from Forty Acres. In April of 1799, he closed his office and spent that summer helping outline the new renovations his father wanted for Forty Acres to both expand the property and keep his architectural design contemporary.  The family, in hopes of Charles and Sarah moving in after their wedding the following Spring, started work on a third floor for the couple. This renovation is what changed the profile of the house from a pitched roof to a gambrel roof (an architectural design that many elite homes in Boston were favoring at the time). However, after these renovations to Forty Acres in 1799, the couple chose to stay in Boston where Charles formed a business partnership with Edward Rand—leaving the third floor unfished as we see it today. Together Charles and Rand formed a merchant business from No.3 Cadman’s Wharf until the summer of 1801.

In the late afternoon of Saturday June 13th at Dorchester point, just south of Boston, Rand stood, gun raised, in a duel against a Mr. Miller. Supposedly, Miller had challenged Rand on account of a “lady from Rhode Island”. Porter writes, “Rand had the first fire and missed and that then Miller took deliberate aim”[iv]. Porter was called upon to retrieve his partner’s body and helped to bury him in the Granary burying Ground late that night. Everyone directly involved in the duel skipped town, for duels had been illegal acts since 18th century. Porter continued his export business until 1816 when he began his political career as a Boston Representative to the State Legislature. By the end of that year he had received a large profit from his buisness and chose to use the money to build a house on his share of the ancestral Hadley property. This house still stands as Phelps Farm today. To great sorrow, Sarah contracted Typhous fever and passed away on the move to her new home.  Her cousin, Charlotte Parsons came to help a devastated Charles in bringing up his and Sarah’s five children. Porter and Charlotte grew close and married in 1840, parenting four more children—many did not survive youth. Charlotte died in 1830 and in 1833 Porter married for his third time to Elizabeth Judkins. He continued running the family farm he had built for he and Sarah and gained status as a Hadley lawyer and selectman.

Charles Porter Phelps died December 22, 1857 at the age of 85 a man of respect; honored and and trusted by this Hadley Community. He had served ten terms as as Hadley Representative in the legislature and senator of the Hampshire district and was acknowledged by his neighbors as a man of high principle and clear judgment.

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[i] Phelps, Charles (Moses) Porter. Autobiography 1857 (p.19)

[ii] Phelps, Charles (Moses) Porter. Autobiography 1857 (p.17)

[iii] Phelps, Charles (Moses) Porter. Autobiography 1857 (p.20)

[iv] Phelps, Charles (Moses) Porter. Autobiography 1857 (p. 35)



Phelps, Charles (Moses) Porter. Autobiography (1857) Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family     Papers Box 10 Folder 21 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

Carlisle, Elizabeth Pendergast. Earthbound and Heavenbent: Elizabeth Porter Phelps and Life at Forty Acres, 1747-1817. Scribner, 2004.

The Phelps Family of America, and their English Ancestors, with Copies of Wills, Deeds, Letters, and Other Interesting Papers, Coats of Arms and Valuable Records. Volume II Pittsfield, MA: Eagle Publishing Company, 1899.


Search these links to find more about Theophilus Parsons or about John Quincy Adam’s time as his student!

Franklin Lightning Rod: More that just safety?

Running from the ground, up along the north facade and perched on top the gambrel roof is a lightning rod, said to be added during the house's 1799 renovation by Charles Phelps. In the 1920s, engineers coming to the house from the Underwriters Laboratory of Chicago were profoundly impressed by it and stated it must be one of the first true Franklin Rods. They dated it back as early as 1800 or before. The structure is unique in that it holds 3 pointed prongs at the top rather then the usual two. In 1750, Benjamin Franklin created the lightning rod to protect people, buildings, and other structures from the lightning he had recently discovered as electricity. The idea was that the rod would catch the electricity and the wire would safely conduct it past the house, down into the ground, preventing fires.

Franklin advocated for lightning rods that had sharp points whereas his English colleagues, reasoning that sharp points would attract lightning and increase the risk of strikes, thought blunt rods were more favorable. When word of the lightning rods hit the colonies the decision on wether or not to equip a building with one became a political statement. The pointed rods—like those on the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum—expressed support for Franklin’s theories of protecting public buildings as well as the rejection of theories supported by the king who had his house equipped with blunt rods.

The pointed lightning rod soon became a symbol of ingenuity and independence of a young, thriving nation. The family is well known for their progressive thought through the generations. This pieces adds not only historic value to the house but a look at the political statements being taken at the time of the Porter-Phelps family and their involvement.

To find out more about Benjamin Franklin and the development of the Lightning rod visit The Franklin Institute:

To learn about the other house renovations taking place at the time the lighting rod was added, take a look at "Forty Acres: The Story of the Bishop Huntington House" written by James Lincoln Huntington himself! Also available for purchase at the museum!

John Morrison: Indentured Servant, Oranmental Gardener, and Unlikely Family Friend

Today, the layout of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum’s North Garden closely resembles its original eighteenth-century design. At the time of its creation, the North Garden’s design differed from the traditional kitchen garden arrangements that were prevalent throughout colonial Massachusetts. Unlike the typical Hadley kitchen gardens, the North Garden was carefully planned and featured exotic flowers and crops. The unique North Garden was designed and maintained by John Morrison. Morrison arrived in the Colonies as a conscript in the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Upon his arrival to America, he found himself taken as a prisoner of war. He eventually ended up in Hadley, Massachusetts at Forty Acres. It was here that he spent the rest of his life.

Looking from the North Garden towards the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House

Looking from the North Garden towards the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House

In June of 1776, John Morrison and the Seventy-First regiment of Highlanders arrived outside of Boston Harbor. Unaware of the evacuation of Boston by the British Troops, the Highlander’s ships were engaged by American vessels upon their approach to port. After a two-hour navel engagement, the British ships sailed towards Boston were they hoped to find refuge in a British-controlled port. As they sailed closer to port, they were attacked again by the same American vessels from the earlier skirmish. The Highlanders suffered even more casualties and their commander, Lt. Col. Campbell, decided to surrender to the Americans.[1] John Morrison was among the two hundred sixty seven Highlanders taken as prisoners of war.[2] Approximately one year later Morrison arrived at Forty Acres as an indentured servant.

Throughout Massachusetts, the recruitment of local men into militias had put a strain on the available labor force. The shortage of able-bodied farmhands posed a serious set-back to the planting and growing of crops on farms throughout the area. As a result, farmers petitioned the local Committees of Safety for permission to use captured enemy soldiers as labor in their fields.[3] John Morrison was one of the captives sent to supplement the diminishing labor force on farms across Massachusetts. On March 23, 1777 Elizabeth Porter Phelps mentioned in her diary that “one of the Highlanders” whom was captured by her cousin Colonel Porter, was sent to live and work at Forty Acres.

Upon his arrival, John Morrison was initially put to work in the fields. Back home in Scotland, Morrison was an ornamental garden. With his experience, Morrison eventually  was given the responsibility of creating and maintaining the gardens at Forty Acres. Most families in Hadley at the time had gardens but, they were most oftenjust extensions of their vegetable plots. It is likely that the Phelps were the only family in Hadley with their own private gardener. According to Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, author of Earth Bound and Heavenbent, formal gardens, like Morrison’s, were a rare sight in rural Massachusetts. They were more common in the South. She further claims that Southern gentry often relied on indentured servants to serve as formal gardeners, citing George Washington and his formal gardens.[4] This trend extended to the North as evident by Morrison’s labor at Forty Acres. Prior to Morrison’s tenure at Forty Acres,  Elizabeth had described gardening as sporadic and casual.[5] Morrison’s North Garden was carefully planned; it was laid out in a rectangular shape with four subdivided paths, a circular rose-bed at the center, and was lined by fruit-trees along its sides. The meticulously designed North Garden brought a sense of elegance to the rural landscape that surrounded Forty Acres.

After the Revolutionary War, John Morrison remained at Forty Acres. He would eventually be considered a member of the extended Phelps Family.[6] Due to his trusted position and his excellent gardening skills, he was able to request that family members purchase specific seeds from Boston for the North Garden. In 1789, Elizabeth Porter Phelps wrote to her brother in Boston, “Mr. Morrison…wishes once more to request you purchase some flower and kitchen garden seeds—of which I send enclosed in a list.” Two years later in 1791, Charles Phelps wrote his son to update him on the status of Morrison’s garden and pass upon his requests for seeds. Phelps wrote, “John has his hotbed at work—and his cucumbers planted.” He continues the letter by requesting his son get “½ ounce Dutch cabbage seed – and ½ ounce early York Cabbage – and send home.”[7] It appears as if, the family greatly appreciated Morrison’s garden and went to great lengths to procure the specific seeds that John requested.

Morrison was obviously a very skilled gardener and while living at Forty Acres his “exclusive business was ornamental gardening.”[8] However, letters between Charles Phelps and Elizabeth Phelps illuminate another side of the ornamental gardener. According to family letters, Morrison was some-what of a notorious drunkard. His relationship with alcohol led to periods of prolonged absences which frustrated family members. He would allegedly skirt his duties at Forty Acres to instead nap on top of Mount Warner—the hilltop at the edge of family’s estate. It was on top of the Mount Warner where he would recover from his bouts of drinking. The secluded area was a great spot for a nap but, it also gave John a vantage point to admire his work in the garden from a distance.[9] The planned and orderly garden, inspired by European-style gardens, would have stood out from the rural New World landscape that surrounded it. Today, if one hikes to the summit of Mount Warner, it is possible to find “John’s Rock”, a boulder which Morrison regularly used to rest his head during his naps.

Morrison lived the rest of his life with the family at Forty Acres and eventually was buried alongside family members in the Old Hadley Cemetery. After Morrison’s death in 1815, Elizabeth Phelps referenced the declining state of the gardens due to Morrison’s absence. She wrote, “…Our gardens look like a forsaken place…[they] look like a desert but a great variety of pretty flowers which if there was anybody to dig the ground and arrange them would appear well…” In 1949, James Lincoln Huntington, the founder of the Museum, reflected on the remains of Morrison’s garden, “The Plan of the old garden can still be traced; the lilac to the left of the flagstones leading to the south door and the bed of lilies-of-the-valley are believed to been planted by him [Morrison]”[10] John Morrison was an unlikely resident of Hadley—brought to Forty Acres as a prisoner of war and indentured servant. However, he is one of the many to have made their home at Forty Acres. His legacy continues today; visitors to the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum are free to explore the North Garden where one can imagine Morrison working to bring a slice of the Old World to rural Hadley.


Morrison's grave located in the Old Hadley Cemetery. The gravestone reads "John Morrison a Scotch Highlander captured with Col. Campbell in Boston harbor June 1770 died in the family of Cha. Phelps Sept. 13 1814 aged about 65"

Morrison's grave located in the Old Hadley Cemetery. The gravestone reads "John Morrison a Scotch Highlander captured with Col. Campbell in Boston harbor June 1770 died in the family of Cha. Phelps Sept. 13 1814 aged about 65"


[1] Lieutenant-Colonel, Campbell to General Howe. June 19, 1776, in American Archives: Documents of the American Revolutionary Period, 1774-1776.

[2] Thacher, James, and Samuel X. Radbill. 1862. Military journal of the American revolution: from the commencement to the disbanding of the American army : comprising a detailed account of the principal events and battles of the revolution with their exact dates, and a biographical sketch of the most prominent generals. Hartford, Conn: Hurlbut, Williams & Company. 44

[3] Pendergast Carlisle, Elizabeth Pendergast. 2004. Earthbound and Heavenbent: Elizabeth Porter Phelps and life at Forty Acres, 1747 - 1817. New York, NY. 89

[4] Pendergast Carlisle, 177

[5] Pendergast Carlisle, 178

[6] Pendergast Carlisle, 90

[7] AC Archives, PPH Collection Box 4 Folder 5

[8] AC Archives, PPH Collection Box 21 Folder 5

[9] Pendergast Carlisle, 270

[10] Huntington, James Lincoln. Forty Acres: The Story of the Bishop Huntington House. New York: Hastings House. 1949. 12-13