Bidwell Lore – Captain John Hunt, Part I

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 172! This week we begin a short two-part series about Captain John Hunt, a Stockbridge resident and veteran of the War of 1812.

If you are getting a bit of cabin fever, don’t forget that the Bidwell grounds and trails are open daily, year-round. Head to the TRAILS page of our website to download a map before your next visit.

Captain John Hunt – A Veteran of the War of 1812
Rick Wilcox, 2023

Our series on Agrippa Hull has ended, but our article this week is connected, in a way, due to the fact that John Hunt was mentioned in the installment published on October 17 that you can read HERE. While doing some research, Rick found a bit more information about Hunt and we thought it would make for an interesting Bidwell Lore.
Attorney John Hunt was the older brother of James Gray Hunt and first cousin of Mary Gray Bidwell (you may remember her as Mrs. Barnabas Bidwell, more about her HERE).  In 1813, after first offering to sell his land to the town of Stockbridge, John Hunt sold to Dr. Oliver Partridge the land which now makes up the 18th hole of the Stockbridge Golf Course, and the land south of the Town Square where the Congregational Church and the Old Town Hall now rests. Partridge eventually sold that land to Thaddeus Pomeroy, who in turn sold it to the Congregational Society. In 1839, the land that Stockbridge did not want to buy in 1813, became the location of the Stockbridge Town Hall.

Chime Tower Stockbridge MA
Image of the Congregational Church and Chime Tower in Stockbridge today

Years before the above-mentioned land sale, Mary Gray Bidwell writes from Stockbridge to her husband, Congressman Barnabas Bidwell, who at the time was in Washington City. The letter, reproduced below, is dated March 18th, 1806 and in it she mentions her cousin, John Hunt, recently made Ensign.

Mama is much relieved. She swallowed a little chicken soup and seems refreshed. Your friend Mr. J. Wadsworth called on us last Saturday. He has been several weeks from Genesee. Mrs. W. is detained there by a little daughter who made her appearance a few months past, and as you may imagine is quite a prodigy. She can converse in Latin, Greek or French with much fluency and propriety as in her mother tongue, – English. You may tell Cousin Mary this when you see her. Hunt, I beg your pardon, I should have said Ensign Hunt [1], for he was elected to that dignified office, today, by a unanimous vote-well then Ensign Hunt, will endeavor to engage some male domestic for the approaching season. I cannot leave this apartment. My attention too is so tenderly engrossed by the dear sufferer, that I can sit but a moment without stepping to her bed. (Mama) Dr. Sergeant [2] however encourages me to hope she will soon recover. Mrs. Porter dined with me last Friday. Mr. Porter called in the afternoon to attend her to Major Dwight’s where they were previously engaged to tea. Wednesday evening: Mama has been very low this day. The Dr. pronounces her symptoms favorable in a general view. Mrs. Brown is now considered universally, in a gradual incurable consumption. Capt. Whitney Dr. Sergeant declares convalescent, but he has such frequent relapses, that his friends, tremble for the event. Cyrus Williams has written home. Where he is now, I am not informed. His health, at the date of his last letters, was very little improved.  Mama is certainly gaining, tho yet extremely weak. Miss Betsy Edwards [3] has generously engaged to sit by her bed this night.

We will be back on February 6 to share a few more details about Captain Hunt.

1. Ensign was a rank below Lt. in the militia. John Hunt was admitted to the bar in April 1805.  
2. Dr. Erastus Sergeant, son of the missionary Rev. John Sergeant.
3. Daughter of Timothy Edwards and granddaughter of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards.