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(The Second Parsons House)

The Parsons House still stands at: 58 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA 01060. Photo by Helen Rice, 1981.

Excerpted from:
Compiled by the Northampton Historical Society, about 1972. Published by Rosemary Press, Northampton in New England, MCMLXXII.

Cornet Joseph's youngest son Jonathan had several daughters, but only one son who lived to maturity. This son Nathaniel married twice, in 1714 and in 1728. He had acquired ownership of the strip adjoining the ancestral land on the south. For one of his marriages -- presumably the first, although his first wife died a year after the wedding --, Nathaniel built a house for himself and his widowed mother. This house faced Bridge Street, midway along the tract. It is the house that Miss Anna Bliss eventually bequeathed to the Historical Society, and that she christened "The Cornet Joseph Parsons House."

According to tribal tradition, the house was constructed practically as a two-tenement abode, the main part for Nathaniel and his family, the smaller ell for his mother. In the succeeding generation, it was jointly occupied by two of Nathaniel's sons -- Elisha and another Nathaniel -- both of whom later moved to other locations. In 1807, after Elisha's death, Nathaniel apparently sold the property to Daniel Wright, father of Hunt Wright, grandfather of Anna Wright, great-grandfather of Anna Bliss.

In my juvenile days, Mr. and Mrs. Caivin Kingsley occupied the main part. and Miss Anna Wright (the owner) occupied the ell Daily, I used to deliver The Northampton Herald at their door along in 1895 and 1896. Miss Wright was then a diminutive, white haired figure, always arranged in neat and decent black. On one occasion, she triumphantly remarked to me, "My house is older than yours." Quite perturbed by this claim of superior distinction, I reported the allegation at home, expecting it to be instantly denied. To my surprise, my father replied, "I guess maybe it is." Further conversation with him and my grandmother assured me, however, that Miss Anna Wright's residence was less aged than the house that Mr. Henry Graves had pulled down.

More authoritative proof of this assertion appears in The Judd Manuscript, one of the choicest historical treasures in the Forbes Library. It dates from about 1850. On page 168, Mr. Judd categorically states: "Nathaniel Parsons built the house where Hunt Wright lives, over a hundred years ago." From Hunt Wright, the house descended to Anna Wright, and then to Anna Bliss, who was niece and namesake of Anna Wright. Further corroboration appears in the Parsons Genealogy (published in 1912), which states: "Nathaniel Parsons sold the west end of the lot on Market Street, and more than 170 years ago built the house on the middle of the old lot."

The truth of the matter appears to be that to Miss Anna Bliss, the tale seemed to have romantic unity if Mary Bliss were tile first, and Anna Bliss the last, occupant of the house. Mary Bliss was Cornet Joseph's wife, and to that couple Anna Bliss traced her line through a maternal ancestress. Correctly informed that she dwelt in a Parsons house, Miss Bliss leapt to the compulsion that Cornet Joseph had erected it. Nor was she one whose convictions could be shaken by authority to the contrary: She honestly believed the legend she had woven about her residence.

It may be justly added, however, that although Cornet Joseph Parsons never saw the house that bears his name, his grandson's residence may quite appropriately be dedicated to the memory of Northampton's Founding Father.

Please send your comments and suggestions concerning the Parsons web page to:
Mr. Gary A. Parsons, Web Page Administrator, at: