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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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REV. HENRY LUTHER EDWARDS, of Northampton, Mass., is a native of Hampshire County. He was born January 24, 1822, in Southampton, where his progenitors had dwelt for several generations. The name of Edwards has long been one of the most widely known and honored in Western Massachusetts. The family, including the Jonathan Edwards branch, originated in Wales, Alexander Edwards, the emigrant ancestor of the branch under consideration, coming thence in 1640 to Springfield, Mass., where he remained till 1655, a cultivator of the soil, like most others.

He then removed to Northampton, being attracted by the fertility of the bottom lands of the Connecticut River known as “The Meadows,” and here, too, engaged in farming until his decease, September 4, 1690. He married the widow of John Searle, Mrs. Mary Baldwin Searle. She had a son, John Searle, Jr., who came with his step-father, Alexander Edwards, to Northampton, and became a well-to-do farmer. A half-century later John Searle, third, was killed by Indians with nineteen others at the foot of Mount Tom; and twenty years after that, in 1724, Nathaniel Edwards met his death in like manner. Nathaniel Searle, grandson of John, second, was one of the more prosperous and influential of the pioneer settlers of Southampton. He seems to have been the principal man in ecclesiastical affairs, securing and entertaining the ministers on every occasion, Jonathan Edwards among others.

Samuel Edwards, a son of Alexander and Mary B. S. Edwards, was born March 7, 1643, in Springfield, and died April 13, 1712, in Northampton. His son Samuel, the next in line of descent, was born March 26, 1676, and died March 8, 1749. He was twice married, his wives, whose names were Pomeroy, having been sisters; and among his descendants that became noted were the Rev. Dr. Justin Edwards and Professor Bela B. Edwards, men of exalted character and ability, and among the more renowned divines in New England. Samuel Edwards, the third of that name, was born in Northampton, September 12, 1716, removed to Southampton in 1753, and died there in 1790. His wife, Catherine Clark, was a woman of superior character and intelligence. She was a daughter of Deacon John Clark, of Northampton, and lineally descended from Lieutenant William Clark, who emigrated from England soon after the departure of the Pilgrims, and was known in Northampton as “the Most Worshipful William Clark.”

In Southampton, Samuel Edwards, third, became very prominent in local affairs, having been long Town Clerk and Town Treasurer and a Deacon in the church. For upward of forty years he was engaged in teaching in Northampton and Southampton during the winter seasons; and the old arm-chair used by him in the school-room is now finely cushioned and highly prized, being owned by Caroline Edwards, of Southampton, a descendant, and a cousin of the gentleman to whom this sketch is due. This Samuel Edwards had four daughters and three sons — Samuel, Luther, and Elisha. The first settled in Westhampton, the others in Southampton, all being leading citizens.

Luther was born in 1756 and died in 1834. He was known as Ensign, and served briefly in the war of the Revolution, as did also his brother Elisha. He inherited some three hundred acres of his father’s one thousand. He was a thoughtful man, thrifty in his business and highly esteemed, representing his town in a Constitutional Convention, and being a member repeatedly of the General Court. He was twice married. His first wife, Sarah Sheldon, died in middle life, leaving five children: Asenath, Ralph, Sarah, Luther, and Atossa. His second wife was Clarissa Judd, the mother of Clarissa and Electa Edwards, and the daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Judd, who was the first minister settled in Southampton, a pastor of the Congregational church there for forty years.

Luther Edwards, second, was born in Southampton, December 16, 1792, and died there September 12, 1863. He was loyal to his town, giving hundreds of dollars to the academy and the canal, and bequeathing a town clock in his will. He was one of the substantial agriculturists of his native place, inheriting a farm of some two hundred acres, one hundred or more of woodland, also a distillery which was very profitable, but was early abandoned for example’s sake. He was active and of quick discernment, well-read and intelligent, and served acceptably in town and county offices, in the legislature, as Selectman, County Commissioner, etc. He was a student of the Bible, especially fond of history, had a fine memory, and began a classical course, which was interrupted by ill health. He was united in marriage with Rachel Searle, of Chester, Mass., daughter of Zenas and Rachel (Bates) Searle. Luther and Rachel (Searle) Edwards lost two daughters in infancy, and two in young and very promising maidenhood — Catherine Louisa dying in 1845, aged twenty-three years; and Sarah Marietta in 1843, aged seventeen years. Another daughter, Susan Sophia, has just deceased, April 10, 1895, aged sixty-two. She was active, but modest and unassuming, known for her kind and sympathetic nature and her deeds of love and beneficence. More than a tenth of her means she left to various charities, four hundred dollars to the Congregational church in Southampton. She occupied the old home during her life, and made a happy meeting-place for the relatives. Rachel Corinthia, one of the six daughters, survives. She is the widow of Isaac Parsons, who was the son of Theodore and the grandson of the first Isaac, who married her grandmother. Mrs. Rachel S. Edwards survived her husband twenty-seven years, dying January 28, 1890, at the venerable age of ninety-six years, having retained to a remarkable degree her mental and physical vigor, and receiving to the, last the tireless care of her daughter Susan.

Henry Luther Edwards was reared on the old farm until eighteen. He fitted for college at Sheldon Academy and Williston Seminary, and was graduated at Amherst College in 1847, standing second in his class. Previous to entering college Mr. Edwards had taught town schools in Southampton two winters, and while a student he taught for two winters in the Sheldon Academy. After his graduation he was an instructor for a term in the new Williston Seminary. He was urged to continue there, but he had the study of theology in view and repaired to Andover Theological Seminary. He left Andover, however, in 1849, to accept a tutorship in Amherst College, where he taught the classics three years. While a student at Amherst he was leader of the college choir. Afterward at Easthampton and Andover he had classes in vocal music. In 1853 and 1854 he was an instructor in Northampton Classical Institute. While here he was offered the principalship of the New Conway Academy, then contemplated, a position having before been tendered him in Pittsfield Ladies’ Institute.

But having been licensed in 1850, and having while teaching supplied pulpits in many churches, he accepted instead a call from Abington, Mass., now Whitman, where he ministered to a large and growing church for twelve years. His health becoming much impaired, he spent nearly a year in rest and travel, including a winter in Washington. He had had cordial overtures from Leicester, Middleboro, Fair Haven, Conn., and Manchester, N. H., but in 1868 accepted a much smaller parish in North Middleboro, where he had an interesting pastorate for some six years. Still suffering from too much sedentary work, and having a call to the superintendence of schools in Northampton, his old home and that of his kindred, he closed his engagement with that people, June 30, 1873, and began here the next day. His services continued until 1876, three years having been the ordinary term in those days of unsettled opinions as to this office. His faithful administration and helpful labors are remembered and often mentioned by the many teachers who taught in that period.

Not caring to resume a pastorate, and his family preferring to remain in town, he was led to establish in 1877 the first Western Loan and Trust Company agency in this locality, it being incorporated as The New England Loan and Trust Company of Des Moines, Ia. He has since carried on a fairly profitable business, his systematic, honest, and upright methods of transaction winning the confidence and meeting the approval of all concerned. Some eight or ten rival agencies have sprung up and passed away, the New England Agency, as at first, so now, the only one here extant. Mr. Edwards has written much for the local press, and among his published works are a “History of the Searle Family” and an address on “The Death of Abraham Lincoln.”

On October 16, 1867, Mr. Edwards was united in marriage with Mrs. Mary Blankinship Dyer, widow of Elisha Dyer, of Abington, and a daughter of William N. Thomas, of Rochester, Mass. This estimable lady died January 6, 1884, aged fifty-one. Two children were the fruit of this union: Harry Dearborn, born July 25, 1868, died October 16, 1868; the other, Halley Winslow, born in Middleboro, August 13, 1870, was graduated from Amherst College in 1891, and though hindered by imperfect vision has done much advanced work in the Latin and Greek courses. Mrs. Edwards had two daughters by her first marriage; namely, Adelaide Frances and Elizabeth Cummings. The former, a lady of much taste and culture in art study, having been at Smith College in its first year, married F. N. Kneeland, Cashier of the First National Bank of Northampton. They have two children living. Elizabeth C., unmarried, who makes herself welcome and widely useful, is a graduate of the Northampton High School. It may be added of Mr. Edwards that, though having never been abroad, he has travelled very extensively in this country and Canada, from Maine to Florida, to California, and Victoria in British America, having traversed all the routes to the Pacific and seen all our grand divisions but Arkansas, Indian Territory, and Oklahoma.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

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