HARRY G. WEST – With an ardent patriot of the American Revolution as his ancestor, who invested his all from the sale of his farm in wagons loaded with food to help feed General Washington’s army, Harry G. West, of Pittsfield, can point with pride to Abet West, whose name and fame are emblazoned high in the annals of the family, who have been residents of Pittsfield for one hundred and twenty-five years.
Abel West was born in Vernon, Connecticut, in 1747. He had arrived at early manhood when the Revolutionary War broke out. As was his wont on the Sabbath, he was a member of the little congregation which had assembled for its weekly service, when into their midst rushed a courier with the stirring announcement that the enemy British were aboard their fleet off New London; they were preparing to land and attack the Colonials, and men and all available help were needed at once. The minister, fired with patriotic zeal, stayed the regular church service and urged all the men present to take up arms and make haste at once to help their compatriots in their efforts to stem the enemy flood come with the avowed purpose of sweeping away their liberties. Young Abel West was lame; he had only a single-barreled fowling piece for a weapon, but handicapped as he was physically and by poor fighting equipment, he was on hand as soon as the others. Governor Trumbull observed his lameness and his weapon, and he assured the would-be soldier that he could be of greater service to his country by remaining at home and raising food for the army than by going to the front and participating in the fighting. Young West at once saw the point and logic of the Governor’s argument, and with blood tingling with the ardor of the new-born liberty-loving movement, he retraced his steps homeward. He put the old fowling piece back in its place in the rack and resumed his occupation of farming with the solemn plea of the Governor ringing in his ears. Word soon came from the front that Washington was experiencing great difficulty in procuring food for his soldiers. Abel West heard the disturbing news; again he demonstrated that inherent characteristic of self-sacrifice, and resolved to act at once; he sold his farm, and with the proceeds bought open wagons, loaded them with food, all that he had left in this world’s goods, and set out for the south to go to the assistance of Washington’s famished army. While passing through New Jersey he was met by a courier riding at top speed and shouting that Lord Cornwallis had surrendered, and the Revolutionary War was over. The Colonials had won their independence. The Governor took all the food that Abel West had off his hands, paid him for it in Continental money, which was worthless, and the farmer-patriot returned home impoverished and remained a poor man for the rest of his days. He married Hannah Chapman, and had a son, Abel (2), of whom further.
Abel (2) West, son of Abel and Hannah (Chapman) West, came to Pittsfield in i800, a poor boy, and went to -work for Colonel Simon Lamed for ten dollars a month. In 1817 he bought a farm of eighty acres on West Street. From time to time he added to his domain and made notable improvements. He lived there until his death in February, 1871. Shortly after his removal to the “West Part” of Pittsfield, Mr. West was elected district school committeeman, and was reelected for many succeeding years. He was the Representative for Pittsfield in the Massachusetts Legislature of 1842, the town in those days sending but one member to the Great and General Court, which procedure was deemed extraordinary. In his politics Mr. West was a Whig. He married Matilda Thompson, and had a son, Gilbert, of whom further.
Gilbert West, son of Abel (2) and Matilda (Thompson) West, was a prominent man in Pittsfield, being for a number of years on the Board of the Fire Department, and for more than thirty years librarian of the First Congregational Sunday School. He married Elizabeth Goodrich, and among their children is Harry G., of whom further.
Harry G. West, son of Gilbert and Matilda (Thompson) West, was born in 1862. He married Mary F. Waite, born in Pittsfield, daughter of Dr. Lorenzo Waite. They are the parents of three children: Frances Elizabeth; Gilbert Lorenzo, and William Bradford.