Monday, November 14, 2011

How I Fell in Love with Southampton, Massachusetts...

My husband Jerry and I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend in Southampton, MA. We made the trip to review the site planned for a new Pomeroy Anvil Monument in the town. It’s confession time, folks. I now must admit that I have been unfairly Medad Pomeroy/Northampton-centric, and had not given Southampton the credit it deserves for its part in Pomeroy history. But I have seen the error of my ways, and I now get stars in my eyes when I think of Caleb Pomeroy. To be honest, Northampton and Westhampton will always have a special place in my heart, but luckily there’s room for Southampton! (And now I’m getting curious about Easthampton...)

Jerry and I met with Ruth Ann B., Mark R., Ed C. and Jackie S. at Conant Park on College Highway. The park is large, beautifully maintained and well used. The monument will be placed between the fountain and the School House. After talking logistics, Ruth Ann, Jackie, Jerry and I went across the street to the Clark Chapman House, the home of the Southampton Historical Society. The house was built by Sardis Pomeroy Chapman for his wife, Dotty Searle in 1827. Sardis was a shoe and boot maker, an abolitionist and in later life, an avid genealogist. He traced his wife’s Searle line, and much of his research on the Pomeroys of Southampton has been incorporated into the A.A. Pomeroy genealogies. The house was deeded to the Historical Society in 1971 by the Clark family.

Bob K., the President of the Historic Society and Jodi C. gave us a fascinating tour of the barn and house and the many treasures housed within. At every turn I found another reference to the Pomeroys. A portion of the Pomeroy Tavern sign is hung in the dining room, two samplers created by young Pomeroy women are hung in the front room, a scrapbook signed by a young Pomeroy woman is also in the front (sitting) room. Objects and information about past residents of Southampton abound, and many of these surnames were familiar to me as related to the Pomeroys. Displayed in the stairwell of the house is an extremely well preserved Civil War flag. A child’s bedroom is filled with toys and memorabilia, a room dedicated to Southampton servicemen includes examples of uniforms, and an interesting room upstairs holds some of the collections of some of the more interesting people in town, including the journals of Dr. Gridley and part of the Native American artifact collection of Mitta Piper Swasey. When Bob brought out a transcribed copy of the journals of Reverend Judd and his son, I was hooked. I could have happily spent the next several days reading these amazing documents!

What impressed me the most about this museum was the fact that much of its contents were donated by the citizens of Southampton. That is a telling example of the importance and pride that this community takes in the history of their town. Ruth Ann took Jerry and me to the Center Cemetery, founded in 1738. This cemetery was hit hard by the recent early snowstorm, but much work had already been done to clean up the debris. Here again we found evidence of the town’s commitment to historic preservation. New flat granite markers were being placed near the worn stones of soldiers and others. These stones will ensure that people visiting the Cemetery in the future will be able to find their ancestors and read what was on the original markers.

Ruth Ann then took us for a drive around the historic district of the town, and down Pomeroy Meadow Road, named after Caleb Pomeroy. Each early home in the historic district has is marked with the year the house was built, and the name of the person who built it. My head was swimming with Pomeroys! Ruth Ann also told us about the library, and I’m dying to go back to Southampton and check out the library’s local history collection. I could easily spend a week here, doing research and walking down these streets so filled with history and ambience. I look forward to returning to Southampton and heartily urge anyone with roots in this town to plan a visit. This town is a real treasure.

Right now we are planning a July 4th 2011 dedication of the monument. I will keep everyone informed of the particulars as they get ironed out. It would be wonderful to have a big turnout of Pomeroy descendants at the event, and I can guarantee that you will fall in love with Southampton as I did!

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