Trustees get Mission House


STOCKBRIDGE — The historic Mission House on Main Street, erected in 1739 on Prospect Hill by a parish composed chiefly of Indians for Rev. John Sergeant, first missionary to the Stockbridge Indians, will be transferred this afternoon by the Mission House Association to the Trustees of Public Reservations.

The Mission House was established in 1929 by Miss Mabel Choate as a memorial to her parents, Joseph Hodges and Caroline Sterling Choate. Her father was onetime ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, London.

The transfer was formally made at the annual meeting of the Mission House Association held here this afternoon. It gives to the Trustees of Public Reservations — a state-wide organization designed to preserve for public enjoyment beautiful and historic places in Massachusetts — their fourth property in this area. They already control Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, Bartholomew’s Cobble in Ashley Falls and the William Cullen Bryant homestead in Cummington.

Miss Choate had been eager to secure and preserve the Mission House for many years before the owners would consent to sell the building. It was finally sold to her and was taken down with great care in 1927 and moved piece by piece from Prospect Hill to its present location on Main Street.

Miss Choate has provided a trust fund, to be known as the Stockbridge Mission House Endowment Fund, for the maintenance, upkeep and repair of the building. The transfer will be conveyed upon a public trust to hold the same for the benefit of the public in accordance with its purposes as set forth in the Mission House original charter.

Rev. John Sergeant, born in Newark, N.J., in 1710, was appointed missionary to the Stockbridge Indians upon the recommendation of Rev. Stephen Williams of Longmeadow and Rev. Nehemiah Bull of Westfield. These two men had been appointed as a committee to find a religious director for the vanishing tribe. The first to show concern for the “neglected” natives of the Berkshires, however, was Rev. Samuel Hopkins of West Springfield. It has also been recorded that Rev. Mr. Hopkins was appointed the first Indian missionary, but his title was only nominal since Sergeant, in 1737, became the first resident missionary at Stockbridge.

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