Colonial Westfield


This collection covers Westfield's growth from its natural Native Indians settlement to its burgeoning industry at the beginning of the American Civil War. The collection has been organized into three sections (Military, Church & State, and Westfield Lives), although these sections overlap and intertwine. For example, Rev. Atwater and Rev. Ballentine's journals record some religious events, but largely focus on their agricultural endeavors, weather, and political events.

The materials shown here are a sample of the manuscripts and documents in the Athenaeum's Archives. A more complete directory can be found at

Visitors are encouraged to add comments, transcribe documents, and point us towards more complete or complimentary information. We would especially appreciate lesson plans that would bring our Westfield history alive to students.

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Military Life

This section displays some of the military documents that the Athenaeum holds with a special emphasis on General William Shepard who fought in the Revolutionary War under Glover (see the Orderly Book) and stopped Shay's Rebellion. Letters from Russell Dewey who was at the Seige of Quebec, Eldad Taylor who writes during the seige of Boston and Lyman Lewis' letter from Valley Forge are also included.


Westfield lives

This collection explores Westfield's beginnings with maps, diaries, account books and notebooks. You will find a little on the Native Americans who lived here first, but were decimated in King Philip's War and left the area.  Early maps and the first official map of Westfield portrays its original span. Bartlett's notebooks and the Proprietor's Records are great places for information on land ownership, roads, mills and early settlement as well. Snipets of some of our daybooks give an idea of daily work, the economy, and how people lived as will Lucy Fowler's diary.

Church and State

This collection shows Westfield through the eyes of its ministers. There was no division of church and state in Massachusetts; indeed one couldn't be a town without a minister and place of worship. While you will find some sermons here, you will also find some of the minister's diaries which portray our agricultural base, weather conditions, politics and births and deaths. Atwater's diary is presented completely, but Rev. Ballantine and Rev. Davis' diaries are only in part.

For more complete listing of the Athenaeum Archives'  holdings see: