Westfield, MA: Baptisms Performed in the Church of Christ, 1679-1836 Now Fully Indexed and Browsable

The Rainbow in the Berkshire Hills by George Inness, 1869, depicting a scene of a post-storm Western Massachusetts (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons).

Today we are releasing an updated version of our Westfield, MA: Baptisms Performed in the Church of Christ, 1679-1836 database. This updated version includes the images from the collection and the index now includes full names, relationships, locations and race where available.

The story of the first church in Westfield is inextricably tied to that of its first pastor, Reverend Edward Taylor (1642-1729). Taylor was born in England in 1642 and arrived in Massachusetts in 1668. After graduating from Harvard College in 1671 (where he shared a room with diarist Samuel Sewall, who became a lifelong friend), he was asked to become minister to the settlers of Westfield, and he arrived in the town on December 3, 1671. Westfield at that time was still a frontier settlement, and due to the Indian wars and other hardships, the church was not formally organized until August 27, 1679, nearly eight years after his arrival. Reverend Taylor served the church for the rest of his life – a total of fifty-eight years – until his death in 1729. He also had studied medicine and was for many years the only physician in Westfield and miles beyond. Reverend Taylor was also an extremely prolific and gifted poet, although virtually none of his poems were ever published in his lifetime. According to John Lockwood’s Westfield and Its Historic Influences, it was said that Reverend Taylor had “left no less than a hundred volumes which he had transcribed and bound with his own hands.”

This typescript was given to the Society by Harold Dougherty of Westfield in 1937 and is kept in the R. Stanton Avery Collections at NEHGS, call number MS WES 2130.

The database now includes 280 pages, and approximately 11,000 names to search.

This project was made possible by the efforts of our wonderful volunteer, Jayn Stillson.

If you would like to get involved in the database digitization and indexing process, please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at rachel.adams@nehgs.org.

Please note: This database is available to Individual-level and above NEHGS members only. Consider membership.