Bidwell Lore – Captain John Hunt, Part II

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 173! This week, we finish sharing the story of 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

Two weeks ago we introduced you to Captain John Hunt, a Veteran of the War of 1812 who lived in Stockbridge and was Mary Gray Bidwell’s first cousin.
This week, we share a few paragraphs written by Electa Jones for her book Stockbridge, Past and Present, where she recounts what it was like for those in Stockbridge during the War of 1812 and also mentions John Hunt.

“The War with Great Britain. Passing over the question of right or wrong in the matter, we will come at once to the fact, that between June 4th and June 18th, 1812, the President and Congress of the United States had gone through with the prescribed forms of national law and declared this country to be in a state of war with Great Britain, her colonies and dependencies. The price of goods was at once raised, and in Stockbridge $15 for a barrel of flour, $1 for the coarsest tea, and $18 per pound for the best, but was in proportion to the prices of other articles. And this was but the smallest evil. To the minds of children, those of the opposite party [1] were often monsters in human form.
            In the summer of 1814, the British made an attempt to cut off the New England States, by taking the northern posts and coming down the Hudson, while at the same time, they were to attack New York. On returning from school September 10, we had all sad news to hear, and to some it was heart rending. The Militia had been called to march, the following day, for the defense of Boston, and from some families this would take two, and from others three, of their number. It was a dreadful night, and particularly so to those who were opposed to war. The conscription would not have been more odious. On the morning of the 11th, †he Company collected on the village green for prayer, in which they were led by Rev. E. G. Swift, the colleague of Dr. West, and then marched off to meet their fate. We were, of course, expecting, each for his own, that that fate would be death. But we were graciously disappointed; for after six weeks of leisure, they returned safe, and it is needless to say, happy. The following names of persons belonging to this company have been obtained:  
John Hunt, Captain; Erastus Williams, Lieutenant; George Bacon, Ensign; William Williams, Orderly Sergeant; Benjamin Bacon, Philo Griswald and Leonard Olmstead, Sergeants; David B. Ingersoll, Heman Whittlesey, Daniel Barnes and Otis Dresser, Corporals; Horace Williams, Drummer; and Samuel Clarke, Fifer.
Privates, George Warner, George James, Daniel Phelps, Samuel Bacon, Jay Curtis, Barney Curtis, Charles Carter, Sands Nilkes, George Hill, Miles Carter, Uri Platt, Ezra Perry, Horace Abbey, Phelps, Samuel Rathbun, Nathaniel Rathbun, Seymour Churchill, Charles Whittlesey, Solomon Whittlesey, Francis Olmstead, John Manley, Luman Andrews, John Skinkle, Luthor Hamilton, Patrick Hamilton, Timothy Tolman, Silas Tolman, Phineas Pixley, Levi Belden, William Wilcox, Lyman Wilcox, Simeon Bliss, Jonathan Howard, William Green, Isaac Williams, Henry J. Ostrom, and Ebenezer Simonds. Stephen Carpenter being absent, escaped.. Henry W. Dwight was aid to Major General Joseph Whiton.” [2]

The Stockbridge Library today, where much of the information in this Bidwell Lore can be found.

To close out this Bidwell Lore, we wanted to share the information that inspired Rick to look into the records for John Hunt: the early Stockbridge Selectmen’s Records.
Selectmen’s Records 1792-1830
The Selectmen’s Records from this period are presented in a ledger book and are for the most part a record of payment to individuals in town for services rendered. Stockbridge, not unlike other cities and towns in the Commonwealth, had a welfare system, and, as we mentioned in the fall, Agrippa shows up frequently in the list below as one who provided services for indigent towns people. The mention of Westfield pauper or a state pauper indicates Stockbridge would seek reimbursement from that particular town or the Commonwealth for monies spent. In the book, after each meeting date there follows a series of numbered entries follows a meeting date containing the following language: At a meeting of the Selectmen of Stockbridge on the X Day of Month Year the following orders were drawn on the Town Treasurer.
In 1814 we see the below entry for John Hunt:
1814: #74 John Hunt for military expenses 121.10
This money was paid to Hunt for expenses related to his time in the military. It was shortly before this that the town had declined to buy land that was eventually sold to Dr. Oliver Partridge. Click HERE to read the previous post where we cover that part of the story.

We will be back on February 20th with a post that goes back to the beginning of Bidwell Lore: an introduction to Adonijah Bidwell, for all of the new readers we have acquired since beginning this blog in 2020.

1. New England was a Federalist Party stronghold and they favored rejoining Great Britain as a colony. Barnabas Bidwell was a Democratic-Republican Congressman representing Berkshire County suggesting a shift in the political winds for Western Mass.
2. Stockbridge, Past and Present: Or Records of an old Mission Station, Electa Jones, 1854, PP 206-208.