Civil War Monument, South Hadley, Mass

The Civil War monument on the town common in South Hadley, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The monument in 2015:

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There are several things that almost every New England town center has: some sort of a town common, and a Civil War monument on that common. South Hadley is no exception, with its granite statue honoring “the loyalty and patriotism of our citizen soldiers who fought for liberty and the Union in the great rebellion of 1861-1865,” as the inscription on the front reads.  South Hadley had 224 of its citizens fighting in the war, many of whom were probably still living here when the monument was dedicated in 1896.

Corning Fountain, Hartford Connecticut

The Corning Fountain in Bushnell Park in Hartford, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The fountain in 2015:

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The Corning Fountain was given as a gift to the city of Hartford in 1899 by John J. Corning.  It was designed by J. Massie Rhind, and features Native Americans representing local tribes, with a deer on top.  The city’s name literally means “hart ford,” as in “a place where deer cross a river,” so the hart or stag has become a symbol of the city.  Not coincidentally, the animal is also the symbol of The Hartford investment and insurance company.  The statue is located in Bushnell Park, a large public park that was created in the 1860s.  Prior to the construction of the park, this area was a fairly polluted industrial area.  Corning’s father operated a grist mill on the spot where the statue now sits, and the statue was given by his son in his memory.

Civil War Monument, Holyoke Mass

The Civil War Monument in Veterans’ Memorial Park in Holyoke, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The statue in 2015:

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Civil War monuments are a common feature in communities across the country, and Holyoke is no exception with their monument to the city’s 55 residents who died in the war.  What is rather unusual about this one, though, is the sculptor: former Confederate soldier Henry Jackson Ellicott.  It is also unusual in that most Civil War monuments feature the figure of a soldier, while Ellicott’s creation has Liberty holding a wreath atop the monument.  It was dedicated on America’s centennial, July 4, 1876, and today it remains at the center of Veterans Park, which now includes monuments for veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Not much of the surrounding neighborhood is visible in the first photo, but St. Jerome’s Church is clearly visible in the 2015 view.  Although mostly obscured by leaves, the church is there in the first photo; in fact, not only is it older than the monument, but it is older than the war itself.  The church was completed in 1860 to serve the growing population of mill workers, and was the first of many Catholic churches in Holyoke.  The statue includes a list of the 55 Holyoke men killed in the war, and among these are Irish names like Sullivan, McDonald, Cronan, and Donahue, so they very well could have been parishioners across the street at St. Jerome’s Church before they enlisted.

Soldiers’ Monument, Wilbraham Mass

The Soldiers’ Monument in Wilbraham, on Main Street opposite Springfield Street, in an undated photograph probably taken in the early 20th century.  Photo courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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The monument in 2015:

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As mentioned in this post, the Soldiers’ Monument in Wilbraham was dedicated in 1894, in honor of the 228 men from Wilbraham who served in the Civil War.  According to the inscription on the monument, it is dedicated “To the men of Wilbraham who served their country in the war which preserved the Union and destroyed slavery.  This monument is erected to perpetuate the memory of their patriotic service.”  According to the records in the town clerk’s office, 29 Wilbraham men died in the war.  However, of those 29, only six were killed on the battlefield, a statistic that is not at all unusual for the Civil War, given that around two thirds of all deaths were a result of disease rather than battle.  One particularly notable Wilbraham veteran was Watson W. Bridge, who was the captain of Company F in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, an African-American unit that was depicted in the 1989 film Glory.

The monument was built on the site of the birthplace of Lucinda Brewer, the wife of paper manufacturer Zenas Crane, founder of Crane & Co. in Dalton, Massachusetts.  Their grandson, Winthrop M. Crane, attended the dedication ceremony in 1894.  Several decades earlier, he had secured a contract to produce the paper for US currency, something that the company continues to do today.  He would later go on to serve as Governor from 1900 to 1903, and represented Massachusetts in the US Senate from 1904 to 1913.

In the years since the first photo was taken, the land behind the monument has been developed, as seen in the 2015 view.  To the left is the former Wilbraham Post Office building, and directly behind the monument is the Wilbraham Public Library.  To the right, just outside of the view of the photo, is a commercial development.

F.A. Gurney Delivery Wagon, Wilbraham Mass

The delivery wagon for F.A. Gurney’s Store, seen on Main Street in Wilbraham around 1903. Photo courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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The same scene in 2015:

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The town of Wilbraham was originally part of Springfield, located on the far eastern end of Springfield’s original 1636 boundaries, where the relatively flat Connecticut River valley comes to an abrupt end at the hills seen in the distance.  When first settled in 1730, it was known as the “Outward Commons,” and even earlier a part of present-day Wilbraham was given the rather hyperbolic name of “World’s End,” which seems to give a rather dramatic idea of how remote this area was to Springfield’s Puritan settlers.

These two photos are taken in the town center, just across from Crane Park and the Soldiers’ Monument.  According to the information provided by the Wilbraham Public Library, the 1903 scene shows Frank Blodgett driving the delivery wagon for the F.A. Gurney Store, a general store that was located just behind the photographer.  The destination of his goods is Sixteen Acres, just across the city line into Springfield.  Today, Sixteen Acres is a suburban neighborhood in Springfield, but at the turn of the last century it was a rural farming community, and the photo appears to have been taken sometime in late winter as the snow was melting, so the goods on the wagon were probably headed for farmers who were preparing for the coming spring.

The only obvious landmark in both photos is the Soldiers’ Monument, which was dedicated in 1894.  One of the guests at the dedication was future Governor and Senator Winthrop M. Crane, whose grandmother Lucinda Brewer once lived in a house on this spot.  Lucinda Brewer married paper manufacturer Zenas Crane, the founder of Crane & Co. in Dalton, Massachusetts.  Winthrop himself was the company president, and in 1879 he obtained a contract to produce the paper for United States paper money.  The company has been producing paper for American currency ever since, and Wilbraham’s Crane Park is named for the family.

Springfield Municipal Group, Springfield, Mass

The Springfield Municipal Group from across Court Square, probably around 1913.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The Municipal Group in 2014:

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The first photo was taken shortly before the Springfield Municipal Group was completed, perhaps even on the same day as the first photo in this post.  In this photo, the buildings are still surrounded by a fence, and a sign for A.E. Stephens Co, the contractors, can be seen on a temporary shed on the right-hand side of the photo. In the ensuing 100 or so years in between the two photos, not much has changed in this scene.  City Hall, Symphony Hall, and Campanile tower are all still there, as is the Civil War monument and the Miles Morgan statue, which is barely visible in the distance in front of the bell tower.  One thing that has changed, though, is the way people get to City Hall.  In the first photo, a trolley can be seen on the far left, and no automobiles are visible anywhere in the scene.  Today, there are no trolleys to be found in Springfield, and instead Court Square is surrounded by cars, as seen in the 2014 photo.