Southwick Historical Society

Southwick Historical Society Our mission is to preserve Southwick history, by offering educational programs, exhibiting and interpreting historical collections, and inspiring citizens.
(1)

Celebrate Southwick 250
05/22/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

A Southwick Story
Sad Premonition – US Army Corporal Merritt Pierce

Merritt Edward Pierce was born on July 21, 1921 in Southwick at home to Emma and William Pierce. Merritt grew up with four brothers and three sisters. He worked for A. F. Johnson and Sons Farm and also Griffin Nursery. He was a rifle sharp shooter even before being drafted into the army.

Merritt was drafted into the US Army in June 1942. One month later, older brothers Walter and William were also drafted. Merritt was trained at several Army bases before deploying overseas in the 709th Tank Battalion, 7th Armored Division, 9th Army. He served 15 months in Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany, including in the Battle of the Bulge. The 7th Armored Division was one of the first units engaged in the Battle of the Bulge, and one of the last to leave after it was won by the Allied Forces.

In April 1945, while watching a news reel movie at the Strand movie theater in Westfield, his parents saw a full screen image of Merritt. The Strand and other movie theaters would commonly show news reels of the war at various fronts between movies, but it was highly coincidental to see someone you knew let alone one’s own son. His Mom and Dad had a premonition that this would be the last time they would ever see Merritt alive…and they were sadly correct about this.

On May 8, 1945, the war in Europe ended, marked by VE Day. On May 23, Merritt wrote a letter home. He said he was fine; that the war in Europe was over; and he was not sure when he would be coming home. That same day, while policing his assigned area, Merritt accidentally triggered a land mine. Two days later, he died from his wounds. His parents received his final letter and the telegraphed War Department notification of his death on the same day.

Corporal Merritt Pierce received a Purple Heart, three battle stars, tank weapons medal, sharp shooting medal, carbine medal, and good conduct medal for his war-time service
Merritt’s brothers, Walter and William, were stationed only eleven miles away from where he died.

Merritt’s body was returned home for burial in January 1949, nearly four years after his death. The casket was brought to his parents’ living room for two days of final rest. It was then taken to the Firtion Hollister Funeral Home in Westfield for a full military funeral. Merritt is buried in the Southwick New Cemetery.
_________________________________________________

Thanks to Southwick 250 Volunteer David Pierce for sharing this family story about one of our Greatest Generation who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Merritt is still survived by his sister-in-law and several nieces and nephews.

Celebrate Southwick 250
05/01/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

Saunders Family 20

Celebrate Southwick 250
03/26/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

From the Saunders Family Scrapbook.

Celebrate Southwick 250
03/25/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

More from the Saunders Family Scrapbook. I try to annotate as best I can, but my best Southwick historians are very busy working on a book. I do not want to distract them right now.

Celebrate Southwick 250
03/19/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

This fascinating presentation is postponed until a later time, as I am sure is no surprise. Please support your local businesses who are struggling at this time. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Celebrate Southwick 250
03/10/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

Celebrate Southwick 250
02/07/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

Mark Oct. 11 for our Grand Parade! Some great photos shared by Barb and Marcus Phelps from the 200th Parade.

Southwick Public Library
01/27/2020

Southwick Public Library

Don't forget to join us Wednesday evening at 6:30 for a presentation on ice harvesting in New England by Dennis Picard!

Celebrate Southwick 250
01/25/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

Celebrate our Southwick history Sunday, January 26 at 2 pm at Town Hall. Lee Hamberg will present Around Southwick II. He will preview and narrate many historical photos. This is a preview of a brand new compilation of images that the Southwick Historical Society has been collecting. Refreshments will be served. For anyone interested in Southwick's unique history, this is a MUST event.

Celebrate Southwick 250
01/23/2020

Celebrate Southwick 250

Celebrate our Southwick history Sunday, January 26 at 2 pm at Town Hall. Lee Hamberg will present Around Southwick II. He will preview and narrate many historical photos. This is a preview of a brand new compilation of images that the Southwick Historical Society has been collecting. Refreshments will be served. For anyone interested in Southwick's unique history, this is a MUST event.

Celebrate Southwick 250
12/04/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS Thursday, December 5 at 6:30 pm at Southwick Town Hall. The public is welcome. Victoria Yule will enact Christmas 1895. She will entertain us with readings from Dickens, and explain the history of many beloved Christmas traditions such as trees, cards, decorations, foods and caroling. Come visit with Victoria for what is sure to be a very enjoyable evening with Southwick neighbors and treats. Jointly hosted by the Southwick Historical Society, Southwick Cultural Council and Celebrate Southwick 250.

11/13/2019
Celebrate Southwick 250

Celebrate Southwick 250

Who transformed our Southwick downtown into a gorgeous art gallery celebrating our community this morning???
a. Band of Klingon warriors
b. Ghost of Amasa Holcomb
c. US Congress
d. Eastern European dark web hackers
e. ________________________
See next post for correct answer!

Celebrate Southwick 250
11/13/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

Our Downtown became an art gallery today! A big thanks to our 50 donors who each contributed $250 per banner. Another big thanks to the Southwoods team of Buzz Caron, Martin Lee and Cole Ludorf who created these images. A special thank you to our DPW crew and their escort from the Southwick PD who braved today's Arctic blast to finish our Banner Way.

Celebrate Southwick 250
10/25/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

Celebrate Southwick 250
10/20/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

A big thank you to the Southwick Historical Society for sponsoring the Joseph Moore House banner. We salute all that you do to preserve and tell Southwick's colorful history.

10/18/2019

Two Great Southwick History Events.

A Far Away War Comes Home: Southwick And Hatfield Soldiers in World War I
Presented by Rob Wilson
Saturday, October 19 at 2 pm at Southwick Town Hall

A Walk with the Southwick Spirits - hear about local personalities from the grave. Guides will take you around to each grave. It's fun, educational afternoon so don't miss it!
Saturday, October 26 from 2 to 4 pm at the Southwick Old Cemetery. A $5 donation is suggested.

09/24/2019
Celebrate Southwick 250

Celebrate Southwick 250

"Where Two Worlds Met: Native Americans of Western Mass."
Presented by Gail White & the Southwick Historical Society

Thursday, September 26, 2019 @ 7:30 pm
Christ Church United Methodist, Fellowship Hall
222 College Highway, Southwick

No charge to the public. Free will donations always welcome.

09/12/2019
Celebrate Southwick 250

Celebrate Southwick 250

Seeking Southwick School alumni musicians of all classes and years. Yes, we're getting the old band and chorus back together! Our thanks to Southwick Regional School Band Director Rich Quinn. Our community concert will be May 2, 2020 in conjunction with another 250 Event. We need to start planning and recruiting NOW. Please contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] with name, contact info, instrument played/voice and grad year.

Celebrate Southwick 250
09/05/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

Throwback Thursday. With Broadleaf harvest in full swing, some 1980s vintage photos. Broadleaf and it's cousin, Havana Seed, are grown without nets. In the past, dairy and other farmers often grew a few acres of outdoor tobacco as a cash crop as it required less investment and could be harvested by family and local labor. Photos are not in Southwick but certainly could have been. Courtesy of the Farm Credit Museum, Enfield, Conn.
Suggestions for those who wish to learn more about our tobacco heritage. 1. Visit the Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum in Windsor - https://www.tobaccohistsoc.org/
2. Rent the 1961 movie Parrish, a steamy drama set against the backdrop of the Conn. Valley shade industry. Lots of great footage of shade production in the 1950s/60s, including a dramatic tent fire scene. You may recognize some of the actors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrish_(film)

Celebrate Southwick 250
09/05/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

Beautiful street banners - sponsors wanted. Banners are 2 x 5 feet and each a work of art. These will be displayed in our downtown from Nov. 2019 to Nov. 2020. Then they will be donated back to their sponsor. $250 for a sponsorship, all of which goes to fund our Celebration. Here is an initial batch that are available...more to follow in the next 2 weeks. Pls inquire [email protected] or [email protected]

Celebrate Southwick 250
08/30/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

Throwback time. And welcome to a new school year! Southwick has always stepped up to invest in its school system. The Consolidated School was dedicated in 1929 and was the largest consolidation of one-room school houses accomplished in New England. This served the town well until the combination of Baby Boom and new home building occurred after World War II. The Greatest Generation stepped up to the challenge with 4 major building projects in less than a dozen years. A 6-room addition to the Consolidated was opened in 1950. In 1954 a 12-room Junior High School was built. In 1958, the 20-room Woodland School was opened. In 1960, a 500-pupil high school was added to the Junior High School. That laid down the school campus footprint that still serves our 3 Regional communities to this day. A new High School was built in the early 1970s and several major renovations and additions to all of the buildings more recently.
Thanks to all of our present and past educators for teaching and developing the potential of our children.

Celebrate Southwick
08/16/2019
Celebrate Southwick

Celebrate Southwick

Why 250? On November 7, 1770 the Massachusetts colonial legislature chartered Southwick as a separate town, setting it off from Westfield, making 2020 our 250th birthday.

Celebrate Southwick 250
08/16/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

This week's throwback post. The 1955 Flood (August 17-19) was a defining event for Greatest Generation Southwickians. It destroyed crops and washed out bridges. The biggest event, however, was the washout of the dike at the north end of North Pond along the old canal route. North Pond drained, creating a devastating washout of South Longyard and beyond. Those of you who lived in town in 1955 are invited to add comments and your own photos. More photos of the 1955 Flood the next 2 weeks.

Celebrate Southwick 250
08/01/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

Throwback Thursday. In April 1991 Southwick was featured in a Yankee magazine article which produced some iconic images of various of our Greatest Generation Southwickians. Photographs by Susan Lapides who is working with us to find additional photos from her shoot. Yankee Magazine, April 1991, page 56.

Celebrate Southwick 250
07/13/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

This week's throwback memory.
Babb's Beach...it was a gem of a resort back in the heyday of Congamond as a destination for tourists eager to escape the summer heat. Did you know that the beach and buildings are in Suffield, but the water is in Southwick? The state line is the water line dating back to the border compromise in the late 1700s. Kudos to our Suffield neighbors for their efforts to preserve and restore this landmark to usefulness over the past several years.

Celebrate Southwick 250
06/28/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

This week's Throwback; photos from Picturesque Hampden in 1892.

Celebrate Southwick 250
06/20/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

The number of vintage postcards of the Congamond Lakes from a century ago certainly speak to their popularity and renown at that time.

Celebrate Southwick 250
06/02/2019

Celebrate Southwick 250

This week's Throwback photos of Miller's Beach which was on South Pond east shore where Sunset Drive is now located. Thanks to Dianne Seaman for sharing.

12/21/2018

There was an event typo in the December Southwoods. The correct event is the following.

"Not so Good Life of a Colonial Wife" Sunday, January 27th, 2019 at 2:00pm. Snow date is February 10th, 2019 at 2:00pm. The event is at the Southwick Town Hall Auditorium, 434 College Highway.

Here are some of items for sale during the month of December.  Please let us know if you have any questions. 413-569-043...
12/20/2018

Here are some of items for sale during the month of December. Please let us know if you have any questions. 413-569-0436

There's still time left to help us on Valley Gives Day! If you haven't already, please click on the link below to help s...
05/02/2018
Support Southwick Historical Society in #ValleyGives!

There's still time left to help us on Valley Gives Day! If you haven't already, please click on the link below to help support us in preserving history and creating our community events!

https://www.valley-gives.org/organizations/southwick-historical-society

I’m ready to support Southwick Historical Society on May 1, 2018 during Valley Gives. Learn more about Southwick Historical Society and all the other organizations participating in #ValleyGives.

Address

P.O. Box 323
Southwick, MA
01077

Opening Hours

Monday 15:00 - 22:00
Tuesday 15:00 - 22:00
Wednesday 15:00 - 22:00
Thursday 15:00 - 22:00
Friday 15:00 - 22:00
Saturday 12:00 - 22:00
Sunday 12:00 - 22:00

Telephone

(413) 569-0436

Alerts

Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Southwick Historical Society posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Category

Our History

The Southwick Historical Society, Inc. was created in 1971 by a group of interested citizens. Since that time we have purchased two acres of land at 86 and 88 College Highway which has become the Society’s home, housing both the Joseph Moore House and the Charles J. Gillett Cigar Factory. The Moore House was built in 1751 by Joseph Moore who later served and died in the American Revolution. This home, the last known house in the Massachusetts – Connecticut state line “jog,” was located in four towns, three counties, two states and two colonies.

The newly preserved Charles Gillett Cigar Factory was built in 1872 and is the only remaining building of its type in the Connecticut River Valley which has been known for decades for the quality of its tobacco. Charles J. Gillett stored tobacco and manufactured cigars from this factory. The Gillett cigars were sold under various names and shipped around the country. Stop by and see artifacts which represent both the agricultural and industrial history of Southwick including a wagon built over 100 years ago by Henry R. Barnes in his shop located across the road from, and south of, what is now the Southwick Town Hall, (formerly the Consolidated School built in 1928). See equipment used in the harvesting of ice from the spring-fed Congamond Lakes, tobacco equipment from the many fields scattered around the town and other interesting artifacts.

Each year our youth are encouraged to become more aware of the unique features of Southwick and its history through a Society-sponsored annual field trip around town. We also provide information and research relative to other aspects of Southwick’s story.

If you would like to help us preserve history, please send a tax deductible donation to Southwick Historical Society, Inc. P.O. Box 323 Southwick MA, 01077

Nearby museums


Other Southwick museums

Show All

Comments

Hi, I am very interested in purchasing a couple bicentennial books and a copy of Maud Davis' book but haven't been able to catch the museum when it has been open. Is there another way to purchase these? Also when I use Amazon for purchases, I have the Southwick Historical Society set up as my charity of choice. They said they sent you $75+ dollars thus far - just want to make sure it's being received. Thanks!
Looking forward to Sunday, 1/27 at 2:00pm at the Southwick Town Hall Auditorium, 434 College Highway, Southwick, MA
Signature look familiar at all?
Who is this fun guy? Find out tonight at the Southwick Historical Society's May meeting, 7 PM. I even have a page of his jokes from 1809.
Are you doing the spirit walk at the old cemetery this year?