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AHS referencing History of the Black Population of Amherst, Massachusetts by James Avery Smith, [NEHGS, 1999], “West Cemetery ,” Amherst Historic, accessed June 6, 2023, https://amhersthistoric.org/items/show/21.
- Generations of black families who lived and worked in Amherst are buried in the West Cemetery, including wives and children of Civil War veterans. Some of the men who fought are buried elsewhere, but their families remained in Amherst and are buried in West Cemetery and should be acknowledged for the sacrifices they made. There are many people of color interred in this cemetery in unmarked graves from the 18th and 19th century that should also be recognized though their names are unknown.
Civil War Veterans and their families include:
Charles H. Thompson was mustered into Company E of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment and served through the Civil War. He was on occupation duty in Texas when the war ended.
He married Amelia Jackson.
Christopher Thompson enlisted in the Army and was mustered into Company D of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment and sered in this unit through the Civil war and the post-war occupation of Texas. Christopher was born in Hatfield in 1819. He married Matilda Richardson Bias. His house may have been a rented tenement on North Pleasant Street known by local white residents as "The Hive" (or Beehive by some accounts) but he moved to East Street where he owned a house and barn and worked as a teamster and farmer. Other black people moving to the area are listed on censuses as living with the Thompsons, such as Eliza who eventually married Charles Thompon and lived on Baker Street. Charles worked in the Stearns Family household and worked as a laborer at Amherst College.
Henry Thompson - was born in 1817 in Pittsfield and lived in Hadley in 1841 working as a laborer. From 1852 to 1864, he as a laborer at the L.M. Hills Company (Hat Factory). He was married to Wealthy Washington, also known as "Wealthy Foot." Wealthy is buried in West Cemetery in 1855, she died of consumption as did their son. Henry was mustered into Company D of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment. His unit was sent to Texas to attend to possible hostilities with Mexico and he died at a military hospital in Texas. (It is unclear if he is buried in West Cemetery.)
James Thompson, born in Whately in 1821. He resided in Amherst from 1847 through 1870. He married Chloe Robinson. They had six children. She died in 1864 of typhoid fever and is buried in West Cemetery. Also interred in the cemetery are their daughters Mary Josephine died of a rash in 1852; James Thompson who died of diphtheria in 1863 and Josiah Thompson who died of infantile debility in 1863. This same year, James was mustered into Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment taking part in the battles of James Island and Fort Wagner. He returned to Amherst in 1865 and resided in Chatham Village, NY in 1879.
John D. Thompson was born in 1828 in Hatfield and was a farm laborer in Amherst from 1850 to 1863. He married Clarissa Strong who was born in Colrain. She worked as a maid in the home of John Sanford who operated a rooming house. John enlisted in the Army in 1863 and was mustered into Company B of the 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. John died in 1864 at Camp Readville outside of Boston. His death is recorded as "by a fall" or typhoid fever in some accounts. After his death Clarissa worked as a domestic in the household of Oliver M Clapp.
Jarvis W. Jackson. born in 1829 in Amherst, was a teamster and farm laborer. He married Emily P. Thomas. They had four children, two of whom are buried in West Cemetery: James Edward Jackson and Susan Barnard Jackson. Emily Jackson purchased a half acre lot on Railroad St. Jarvis was mustered into Company B of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry. He was in the regiment sent to Texas because of concerns about Mexico.
Sanford Jackson. born 1831 in Amherst and worked as a laborer. He married his first wife Angeline Palmer (rescued from a plot to sell her into slavery). He is also recorded as having married both Emily Jane Mason and Nancy A. Newport in subsequent years. Sanford was mustered into Company A of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in 1863 and died of gunshot wounds at the Union Army General Hospital in Beaufort South Carolina and was buried there.
Documented Historic Burials
Wealthy Wheeler is buried with the family of Levi Dickinson Cowls, Levi Cowls adopted son and heir. Wealthy was born around 1785 in the south and was purchased by Oliver Cowls from Captain Samuel Parsons, a Northampton slave dealer in 1790. She lived in the household of Seth Cowles in 1865. Although no marriage is recorded, she died in 1871 as Mrs. Wealthy Wheeler.
Published on Mar 1, 2022. Last updated on Apr 10, 2022.