The Town of Northampton (originally the town of Nonotuck meaning “the midst of the river”, named by its original Pocumtuc inhabitants.) was granted its Charter in 1654. Northampton’s founders, though strongly Puritan in conviction, were drawn to the area more by accounts of abundant tillable land and ease of trade with the Indians than by the religious concerns that characterized their brethren in eastern Massachusetts. In May 1653, 24 persons petitioned the General Court for permission to “plant, possess and inhabit Nonotuck.” Northampton was settled in 1654 on a low rise above the rich meadowlands by the Connecticut River. Relations between settlers and Native Americans, though initially cooperative, became increasingly strained, culminating in King Philip’s War in 1675, when Chief Metacomet’s uprising was put down by the English.
Though Northampton grew as a trade and marketing center in the 18th century, religious fervor was quickened by the ministry of the congregational preacher, theologian, and philosopher Jonathan Edwards. He was a leading figure in a 1734 Christian revival in Northampton. In the winter of 1734 and the following spring, it reached such intensity that it threatened the town’s businesses. In the spring of 1735, the movement began to subside and a reaction set in. But the relapse was brief, and the Northampton revival, which had spread through the Connecticut River Valley and whose fame had reached England and Scotland, was followed in 1739–1740 by the Great Awakening, under the leadership of Edwards. For this achievement, Edwards is considered one of the founders of evangelical Christianity. He is also credited with being one of the primary inspirations for transcendentalism.
Northampton hosted its own witch trials in the 1700s, although no alleged witches were executed. Mary Bliss Parsons (circa 1628-1711/12) of Northampton was the subject of accusations and charges of witchcraft resulting in at least two legal trials. To head off the allegations, Joseph Parsons initiated a slander case in 1656, which he won. But eighteen years later, Mary was officially accused of and tried for witchcraft in 1674. She was eventually acquitted, but it seemed that the residents of Northampton, despite any court decrees, were convinced that Mary was a witch.
Rachel Celeste Moon, my 7th great-grandmother, was born in Northampton on August 13, 1703, the daughter of Joseph and Sarah Moon. When Rachel was 16 years old her family moved to Frederick County, Virginia and here she married Joseph Elijah Lindsey on March 12, 1719. They had 2 known children, Elijah Jr, and my 6th great-grandfather Thomas. Rachel died on February 5, 1768, in Frederick County, at the age of 64.
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