Naming of Holyoke Streets

by Laurel | April 16th, 2010

Map of Holyoke

Map of Holyoke

Days Long Gone By Recalled.

Cotton Manufacturers Gave the Names to the Principal streets.

Holyoke has a little part in the “irony of fate” that is so often alluded to, in the naming of her principal streets; for while Holyoke allows second place to no city in the world as a paper manufacturing center the citizens to-day, walk, pedal, cycle or automobile streets whose names are monuments to dead and gone cotton manufacturers of the middle of the last century.

From Prospect street to South every big artery of traffic that climbs from the lower levels to High street bears the name of the men who were first interested in Holyoke as a possible manufacturing center for cotton. Paper manufacturing was then in its infancy and it was not until many years after their day that it grew to overshadow the other many and diversified interests of the city. Lyman street was named after George W. Lyman, a director of the old Hadley falls company; Dwight street after Edmund Dwight, from whom it is said the big Dwight mills in Chicopee were also named; Appleton street, which to some is vaguely associated with J. H. Appleton of your city, was named after another Appleton — William Appleton, who founded the big Appleton mills of Lowell; Ignatius Sargent — and by the way the name of Sargent, the old records conclusively show, is not Sargeant or Seargeant, but just plain Sargent — gave his name to another street, and Jackson street was not names after Andrew Jackson, but after Patrick T. Jackson — all these men living in Boston and vicinity being directors of the old Hadley Falls company, which has its name also in remembrance in the Hadley Falls National bank yet thriving and doing business as for years past at the corner of Dwight and Main streets. Of the name Cabot there seems to be no record at the office of the Holyoke water-power company, whose officials kindly gave the information regarding the streets noted in this letter.

It should be said that the early records of the Hadley Falls company, so far as can be learned, were destroyed by the big fire in Boston in 1872. Much of historical value also perished with them.

Main and High streets need no explanation as to their names, the latter being the “High” street of early days when the still higher streets of the Highlands did not exist save as a farming territory. South street was the “South street,” once the South road, as Lyman and Prospect streets were once known as the North road. Fountain street is thought to have its name from some springs it was named when the reservoir was in that section where “Fort Dillon, or Dillon’s block, as it is known to-day stands. So the names of Spruce and Cedar streets have disappeared, having been merged into High street and unknown or forgotten by all except the older residents. Race street is named from the raceway of canal, and it was known as “the Raceway” before it became Race street. So the building of the Holyoke and Westfield railroad gave occasion to the making of the highway along its side of Railroad street, as is the case in many other cities. The naming of the streets that cross Appleton, Dwight and parallel streets above High street was begun by the old Hadley Falls company, who named to to Elm street — Maple, Chestnut and Elm, and beyond there, with Walnut, Pine, Beech, Oak, Linden, Sycamore, etc., the Holyoke water-power company continued on the same plan. In Oakdale, which was build up largely by O. D. Allyn, these names were continued as far as possible.

The “depot hill” section is one of the oldest parts of the city; in fact, the oldest on record, the first grant on record for this part having been given to one Samuel Marshfield, January 14, 1669, followed by a second grant on February of the same year. The old name of the depot hill was the Marshfield hill and the curve of the river also took his name. It has been suggested that if the city establishes a part in ward 1, as it is proposed to ultimately do, that it would be appropriate to have it bear the name of Marshfield park. Later settlers have their names embalmed in the street nomenclature of depot hill. Ely street keeps green the name of Samuel Ely, Bowers of Grosvenor B. Bowers, and Mosher of Rufus Mosher. A few Indian names are also preserved by Holyoke street names, but only a few. Canonchet park is surrounded by Pequot, Oneco and Samoset streets, all Indian names, as is Nonotuck street in the Highlands. Bridge street — the street to the bridge — by its presence in ward 1 and ward 2 with the sinuosities of the Boston and Mains like a huge serpent dividing it, yet proclaims that the original plan was to have the two roads connect, as an effort is being made to-day. Of the named of Adams and Hamilton street there seems to be no knowledge unless they were named haphazard, as in the Holyoke water-power names three streets in Springdale: Grant, Sherman and Sheridan streets, with no particular reason except to have a good name for the streets.

Crescent street is suggested by its shape and up in Elmwood, Brown avenue commemorates the owner of the “Brown tract.” In the Highlands no satisfactory explanation seems to be at hand for the naming of Beacon avenue. The short streets that do not run across the canals, Hampden, Suffolk, Franklin, Hampshire and Berkshire, all bear county names. Taylor street on the Highlands was named by the old Manchester ground company, a company that bought a large quantity of land in that section which they sold for building lots. Allyn street in the same section perpetuates the name of James F. Allyn and Fairfield avenue the old Fairfield family. In Morgan street the Morgan family is represented, one branch of which in Holyoke can boast of having as its child J. Pierpont Morgan. Much more information is probably in possession of various Holyokers which ought to be preserved in some way, and which the proposed historical association, soon to be organized, will no doubt secure and transmit to the curious of succeeding generations.

From The Springfield Republican, 1902

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