Hadley Founding Families
(Judd p. 11-12)
“At a meeting at Goodman Ward’s house, in Hartford, April 18th, 1659, the company there met engaged themselves under their own hands, or by their deputies, whom they had chosen, to remove themselves and their families out of the jurisdiction of Connecticut into the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, as may appear in a paper dated the day and year above said. Then names of the engagers are these:” (59 signed the document, *18 of them did not move or stayed just a short time).
Francis Barnard [second husband of Frances FOOTE]
John Marsh [son in-law of John Webster]
Robert Webster* [son of John Webster]
William Lewis, Jr.*
Samuel Moody [son of John MOODY]
Widow Watson* [possibly Margaret Smith wife of John Watson]
Andrew Warner [second husband of Hester Wakeman Selden]
Mr. Samuel Hooker*
Capt. John Cullick*
(not fully engaged)
Mr. John Russell Junior
John Russell, senior
John Dickinson [son of Nathaniel Dickinson]
Philip Smith [son of Samuel Smith]
Samuel Smith, Jr.* [son of Samuel Smith]
As early as 1614, the residents of the Valley began to encounter the first representatives of European nations exploring North America. In time, English colonists driven in part by a search for religious freedom began to settle the Connecticut Valley. A dissenting Connecticut congregation under the leadership of Rev. John Russell in 1659 founded Hadley as an agricultural community on the east bank of the Connecticut River. John Pynchon purchased the site of the new settlement, a fertile peninsular plain defined by a bend in the Connecticut River, from the Nolwotogg community on behalf of those settlers. The first settlers laid out this area, formerly known as the Norwottuck Meadow, as the center of the new settlement before their arrival, with the Town Common, referred to as "the Broad Street," as the central feature. The common measured 20 rods wide and one mile long, with the Connecticut River defining both ends, and was reportedly based on the original plan of Wethersfield, Connecticut. Eight-acre home lots were ranged along both sides of the common, with farmlands behind.
In 1675-76, during King Philip's War, to guard against Indian attacks, a palisade that ran far enough behind the houses to include most of the barns and farm buildings enclosed the street and common. Legend has it that, during that conflict, the town was saved from destruction when, at a critical moment, William Goffe—one of judges who had helped execute the King of England, now hunted as a regicide—who showed up in the midst of the townspeople, warned them of the danger, and led the town in fending off the assault, disappearing shortly afterward. Goffe, later known as "The Angel of Hadley," became the subject of many legends. As one of the English judges who sentenced King Charles I to death, he had fled to hide in New England when the English monarchy was restored in 1660.