Bidwell Lore – Agrippa Hull and Mary Bidwell

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 150! This week we are going to share a letter from Mary Bidwell to Barnabas in which she mentions Agrippa.

After this week’s Bidwell Lore, we are taking a two-week break and will be back in your inbox on July 11th. One of the reasons we are taking that break is because of our very exciting Living History weekend coming up in just a couple of days, June 23-25. It is going to be so much fun and tickets for 12 and under are free! See all of the details and get your tickets HERE. 

Portrait of Agrippa Hull, unknown artist, unknown date. Acc# 47.002. Courtesy of the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives. Painted from an 1845 daguerreotype taken by Anson Clark in West Stockbridge, also in the collection of the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives.

Agrippa Hull and Mary Bidwell
Rick Wilcox, 2022

This week we share another letter from Mary to Barnabas, and in this one she explicitly mentions Agrippa. The bolded text below is our emphasis, not Mary’s.

Stockbridge, Oct. 24, 1807

On Thursday, agreeable to my expectations, when I wrote you last, my dear friend, our amiable nephew and his interesting Sally, exchanged the mystic, nuptial vows in presence of her Father’s family, part of Mr. Baldwin’s (who are distantly related), Miss Fidelia Deming, Miss Nancy Edwards and our family collectively, including all the students in your office and our domesticks.

David B. Curtis and a Mr. Sweet from Bethlehem, occasionally visiting Mr. Hunt, were added to the number of guests. Unhappily, Mr. Kasson, whom I mentioned in my last, coming from Pittsfield to witness this solemnization of a union he had so kindly promoted, was seized that morning with a violent cholera-morbus. All the efficacy of medicine proved useless, and we were obliged, with extreme regret, to leave the poor fellow sick and solitary, after providing for his accommodation in the best manner we could. For his generous feelings, forbid the detention of anyone from house, or office, to attend him.

This unexpected illness and your absence, my dear friend, the benefactor and Father, of the happy bridegroom, were an alloy to our felicity, sensibly felt and often regretted even by this lovely pair. Still the evening was cheerful, social and pleasant. Cards, Musick, and conversation, were our amusements.

Never did James or Sally appear so interesting, so dignified, so unaffectedly happy and unceremonious. The dress of each was appropriately elegant and graceful. They acquitted themselves through the whole scene with the utmost propriety and unembarrassed composure.

One guest whose presence was important I omitted, our friend Agrippa. That he rendered himself useful you may be assured. Tea, coffee, plumb cake, etc., with wine, French cordials, were all presented by him and with the attention due. Mama, escorted by Mr. Hunt Senior, and attended by Josiah and Melinda, returned before dark.

Mr. Hunt came back to us immediately and by his presence, promoted essentially, the innocent hilarity of the evening. I have never indeed seen John appear to more advantage than through this scene. Relieved from the agitation and solicitude, which had some past days distressed him (as intimated in my last) and anticipating similar happiness for himself, with that now enjoyed by his dear brother, he evinced all the pleasant gayety of a heart at ease.

I mentioned Miss Deming and Miss Edwards, the only guests exclusive of our family, from the Plain. The former a most intimate friend of the Miss Fairman’s and the latter, attended by my invitation – conducted thither in the carriage with me.

The day following (Friday) the newly married couple with the other and sister of the bride, dined and passed the day with us. Her Father and Brother were too busy to accept our invitation. We had at tea, the additional company of your students, not members of the family. Mr. Jones from Hebron, formerly your pupil, and the two Miss Demings. On Sunday, the groom and bride, appeared publicly and graced our pew with their presence. Mama was delighted in observing that she had that day, in the seat with her, all her living posterity and some addition. Only one, that an important one, was wanting. This morning, they started from New Hartford, leaving salutations of gratitude and respect for you my dear friend. Maria accompanies her sister and passes some time with her. Mr. Hunt (John) and Miss Betsy Fairman, escorted them to Albany. Mr. Hunt conducting his new sister, as far as they proceed Westward.

I am much pleased that you have visited our worthy friend, Mr. Barker. The written narrative you mention, from its novelty, must be interesting to you, but I should, with good divine, doubt the expedience of the custom, and still more scared authority for such a practice. Your southern circuit has indeed universally, the charm of novelty –  a charm never to be enjoyed again, but there is this consolation that your future excursions will be exchanged, for time, the still greater pleasure of visiting acquaintances, not forming them.

The affectionate benediction of our dear Mother with the felicitation of the young gentlemen and children attending our dear Sally, retired to Pittsfield on Monday, conveyed by her brother. We have no school yet, I am grieved, but my grief is unavailing, not one day in six, can I attend to the studies of our boys, more than to see that each reads a chapter in the morning. The golden period of youth is rapidly passing, never to be regained, and little instruction is acquired, or can be by either of them, except merely reading an hour in the evening, or rather hearing me read, for they are generally too sleepy to read intelligibly themselves. “These things ought not be so.” R. Ashley, I hear, is to open a school next month. Marshall, who is now sitting by me, reading his Bible, sends his love and wishes very much to see you. In that wish he has the affectionate concurrence of your M.B.

I forgot to add that Mr. Kasson’s cholera settled into a severe dysentery. He is now convalescing but very weak not able to return to P. Mr. Bacon started last Thursday from the Judge’s. We are all well. M. Bidwell Oct 27, 1807 [1]

Below is an explanation of the names in the above letter, which are all from records in the Stockbridge Library Historical Room (letter: 71-219.10). These notes were made on the date the letter was received in the collection in 1971:

The Groom – “our amiable nephew” – James Gray Hunt, son of Thomas and Sarah Gray Hunt.
The Bride – “his interesting Sally” – Sarah Azella Fairman.
Miss Nancy Edwards – daughter of Timothy Edwards, and granddaughter of Jonathan Edwards.
David B. Curtis – son of Isaac Curtis and brother of Mary Curtis Hopkins, mother of Mark Hopkins.
Agrippa Hull, negro, 1759-1848 see file.
John Hunt, Attorney, older brother of James Gray Hunt. The Stockbridge Golf Links were known as Hunt’s Meadows. In 1813 John Hunt sold to Dr. Oliver Partridge the land where the Congregational Church stands.
“Mama” – Sarah Spring Gray (Mrs. James Gray, Jr.) mother of Sarah Gray Hunt, Mrs. Thomas Hunt – and of Mary Gray Bidwell, Mrs. Barnabas Bidwell, author of the letter.
Marshall Spring Bidwell, 1799-1872 son of Barnabas and Mary Gray Bidwell. See Appleton American Biography. “Bright to the Wanderer” by Bruce Lancaster, 1942 p 30-182-233.
Berkshire Jubilee Pittsfield, 1844 – Hon. Marshall S. Bidwell’s speech a tribute to his father, Barnabas Bidwell.
Mr. Bacon – the Judge – see Dict. American Biog. Judge John Bacon. His son Judge Ezekial Bacon, later of Utica, NY Compt. Of US Treasury. [2]

We will be back with our next installment of Agrippa’s story, where he becomes a landholder, on July 11.

1. Transcription of the letter at the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives.
2. Ezekiel Bacon (September 1, 1776 – October 18, 1870) was an American lawyer and politician from Massachusetts and New York. He was a son of John Bacon and Elizabeth (Goldthwaite) Bacon He graduated from Yale College in 1794. Then he attended Litchfield Law School and studied law with Nathan Dane in Beverly, Massachusetts. He was admitted to the bar in 1800 and commenced practice in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1805 to 1806. Bacon was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the 10th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Barnabas Bidwell and took his seat on November 2, 1807. He was re-elected to the 11th and 12th United States Congress, holding office until March 3, 1813. He was the Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means (12th Congress). He was Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for the Western District of Massachusetts from 1811 to 1814, and Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury from 1814 to 1815.

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