This starts out with some friends of ours asking us to head up to Brimfield, MA to a concert on the village green. The “FLAMINGOS” were playing music from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The Flamingos, you should know, is a band of women…about 14, I think… who mostly play horns: clarinet, trombone, sax… Great show! The weather was perfect and we all had a great time.
During the intermission, a woman with a very official look about her, took the mike and thanked everyone for coming and spoke of other programs that were coming to Brimfield. And that got me thinking: “I’ve got a program I could bring to Brimfield!”
So when the show got started again and she returned to her seat, I decided to approach her and introduce myself. As it turns out, she’s the Executive Director of the Hitchcock Free Academy! I asked her, “Would you have any interest in having me conduct a class on genealogy and family research?” I was pleasantly surprised at her reaction which was basically “Yes”….
So, we talked about what I had been doing in Springfield, Chicopee and Ludlow which, I explained could be tailored for whatever the folks in the Brimfield area might enjoy. She explained what the academy was all about. Here’s their mission statement directly from their web site: Mission: Hitchcock Free Academy is working to enrich the lives of our community members by providing educational, recreational, and cultural programs to residents of all ages from Brimfield, Holland, Sturbridge, Wales, and the surrounding communities.
After that conversation and another on the phone a day or so later, we decided that a program consisting of 4 classes could be run in October. We’re shooting for a late afternoon session and another early in the evening. Whether we run 1 a day or 2 would depend entirely on the response from the community.
But here’s the part that I find most interesting: I visited their web site and learned that the Academy had been originally established by a local businessman named Samuel Austin Hitchcock in 1855. Well, I have plenty of HITCHCOCKs in my ancestry which intrigued me. After a little research, it turns out that Samuel Austin Hitchcock (1794-1873) is a 4th cousin 4 times removed. Our common ancestor is John Calvin Hitchcock (1642-1711). Who knows who else I’ll find in Brimfield! I just may end up with more cousins right there in one of the classes!
Almost forgot…Here’s a link to a video that will tell you all about the Academy and what they do….it’s really nothing short of incredible for a small New England town in central Massachusetts! Click here for the video of Hitchcock Free Academy.