Bernardston — Eminent Men
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
Among the noted men to whom Bernardston has given birth, none hold so firm a place in the grateful remembrance of the town as Hon. Henry W. Cushman. His father was Hon. Polycarpus L. Cushman, a native of Bernardston, a man of considerable local distinction, and for many years landlord of the tavern still standing in Bernardston village. This tavern was first kept by a Mr. Cooley, of Worcester, previous to the year 1800, and after him by Stephen Webster, who was in turn succeeded by P. L. Cushman. The tavern passed into the hands of Henry W. Cushman, who for many years conducted it prosperously, and who, by that and other business enterprises, acquired a handsome competence, of which, as will be hereafter seen, he bequeathed a large share to his native town. Mr. Cushman frequently represented Bernardston in the State Legislature; was State Senator in 1844, lieutenant-governor of the State in 1851 and 1852, and fulfilled, during his life, many important public trusts at home. Upon his death, in 1863, it was found that he had bequeathed to the town of Bernardston $2500 for the support of the Cushman Library, in addition to $2500 donated for the same purpose in 1862; the structure known as Cushman Hall; a large plat of ground in Bernardston village, known as Cushman Park, and $1000 for the benefit of Bernardston Cemetery. He left, also, to the Unitarian Church a fund of
$6000, a parsonage (his own former residence), and $500 for a Sunday-school fund.
He provided further, in his will, that upon the decease of his widow, $10,000 of the bequest made to her should be given to the town of Bernardston, should the town change its name to that of Cushman. In the event of Bernardston's declining to accept the conditions of the bequest, then any town in the United States of over 1000 inhabitants, first fulfilling the conditions, shall be entitled to the fund.
Another of Bernardston's benefactors was Mr. Edward Powers, who, in 1855, left $20,000 to the town as a permanent fund for the support of schools and for the foundation of the present Powers Institute.
Edward E. Powers, a citizen of Columbus, Ga., but a native of Bernardston, bequeathed to the latter town, in 1836, a fund of $200, which is to remain on investment until it reaches $20,000, and thereafter the income is to be devoted to the support of schools, the town poor, and a public library. He bequeathed also to the town five acres of land to found a school of useful sciences, a farm for the support of the town poor, and gave also to the Congregational Church a meeting-house and the land upon which it was erected.
The oldest man known in Bernardston's history was Israel Bagg, who died there, in 1878, at the age of one hundred and one years. Reuben Park died the same year, aged ninety-eight years. The oldest living persons now in the town are Daniel Pratt and the widow of Seorim Cushman, each aged ninety-two years.
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17 Jul 2005