I read with interest the Sunday March 3 article on Mercy Partridge. What was not mentioned in the article was that the book "Hawaii," by James Michenor, which was based on Mercy Partridge’s diary. There are a number of other local connections. Mercy Partridge’s grandfather was the Rev. Adonijah Bidwell, who in 1750 became the first minister to Township #1, which later became Monterey and Tyringham.
Rev. Bidwell was no doubt proud of his granddaughter and her husband. Her brother Edward, who joined the Mormon Church, becoming its first bishop, may have caused him to roll over in his Puritan grave. Several of Edward’s daughters became plural wives of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Some years ago, Eagle columnist Gerard Chapman wrote an article about Edward Partridge.
Mercy’s mother Jemima Bidwell Partridge was the brother of Barnabas Bidwell, an early Massachusetts attorney general, congressman and confidant of President Jefferson. Theodosia Bidwell Brewer, Jemima’s sister, was the grandmother of U.S. Supreme Court Justice David J. Brewer, who sat on the court with his uncle Stephen J. Field.
William Partridge’s brother, Dr. Oliver Partridge, the second doctor in Stockbridge, became a friend to the Stockbridge Indians, who in 1809 deeded the Indian Burying Ground to him in the belief he would care for it properly. Partridge lived, with his sister and her husband Dr. Erastus Sergeant, son of the Rev. John Sergeant in the Mission House for 77 years, dying in 1848 at age 97.
In addition to the Sergeant, Jonathan Edwards family connections in the mid-1800s, the Bidwell family became friendly with General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, founder of the Hampton Institute, who had lived for a time in Hawaii, providing educational opportunities for the Native Hawaiians. Armstrong was a Williams College graduate and married Emma Walker of Stockbridge. Chapman, I believe, generated an article about Armstrong as well.
A trip to the Bidwell Museum in Monterey or the Stockbridge Library Archives and Museum would provide anyone interested with a wealth of local history, able to provide Eagle readers with the rest of the story. It would also give them an opportunity to correct any errors I may have made by virtue of trying to write a letter from memory.
RICHARD BIDWELL WILCOX