A message from the President             

The location of this year’s reunion bears some personal significance.  I am descended from Obadiah, who was one of two sons of Nathaniel who left Hadley MA and returned to Connecticut: Thomas to Hartford, and Obadiah to Wethersfield.  In later generations, of course, members of other lines became Connecticut residents, including Abner (descendant of Joseph) at whose home in Glastonbury the first reunion occurred in 1859.  Today a good number of our current membership resides in Connecticut, including some board members.          

Although it has been 25 years since our last Connecticut reunion, many earlier reunions were held there.  The most popular location was Elizabeth Park in Hartford where all the reunions from 1929 to 1947 were held.  I recall my father telling me once that his parents attended one of those.  That park has been restored in recent years and is well worth a visit.  It boasts the oldest municipal rose garden in the nation, and one of the largest.  The park itself was designed by the Olmsted firm in 1904 and the DFA first used it for a reunion in 1916.  Perhaps some year we might once again have a reunion there.          

Ever since I became active in the DFA I’ve wished we could have a reunion in Connecticut and I’m delighted that this year we will.  If you are a Connecticut resident, we hope the closeness of this venue will entice you to come.  If you are from a greater distance and have not visited this area you will have a wonderful chance to do some exploring.  Please accept this invitation to attend our 2009 annual reunion.          

Hoping to see you in June, 
Alan C. Dickinson, president 
139th ANNUAL REUNION SCHEDULE FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2009          5 PM               Board Meeting, J Michaels Tavern, Wethersfield, CT            6 PM               Social Hour, J Michaels Tavern            7 PM               Dinner, J Michaels TavernSATURDAY, JUNE 27, 2009            9:30-Noon       Gathering of Cousins, Wells Fellowship Area                                                First Church of Christ                                                250 Main Street                                                Wethersfield, CT 06109            12 Noon          Welcome and Lunch            1 PM               Annual Meeting            1 PM               Children’s Activities            2 PM               Program by Wethersfield Historical SocietyPlease return your reservation card as soon as possible.Driving directions will appear in the June newsletter. 
2009 DFA SCHOLARSHIP REMINDER Applications for this year’s DFA scholarship have been arriving.  If you know of someone who is planning to apply and hasn’t yet done so, please encourage them to get their application in promptly, as the deadline is April 30.  Application forms and information can be found on our website and should be submitted to the scholarship chair, Jean Blackmer, 61 Sever St., Worcester, MA 01609.
News from the Research and Publications Committee At the 2008 Dickinson Family Association (DFA) reunion, President Alan Dickinson announced the formation of a Research and Publications Committee.  Serving on the committee are Andrew Dickinson, Elizabeth Haydon Keithcart, and John Haydon.  The committee selected a recently published dissertation to present as the committee’s first offering to the DFA.Elizabeth Keithcart, author of the dissertation, has prepared an article containing highlights of her dissertation as the first publication of the committee.  Due to space limitations it is not included with this paper copy of the Newsletter, but will be posted with the electronic copy on the DFA website later this month.  For those of you who do not have internet access, copies will be available at the annual meeting in June, and after that we hope to make them available by postal mail.The committee for Research and Publications is asking for suggestions for completed research about Dickinson family members to publish in the column and for possible inclusion in book form at a later date.  Submissions may be sent to Elizabeth Keithcart at keithcarte@yahoo.com or mailed to Elizabeth Keithcart, Benerd School of Education, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95204.
J MICHAELS TAVERN, WETHERSFIELD, CT     Those of you who will be attending the Friday evening events of our upcoming reunion weekend are in for a special treat.  We will be guests at J Michaels Tavern in the heart of Old Wethersfield, in the historic Standish House which dates from 1737.     Board members and any others are invited to attend our “informal board meeting” at 5 pm.  The social hour begins at 6 and a cash bar will be accompanied by a cheese board and vegetable crudite.   The dinner at 7 pm will begin with a Mesclun Salad with house-made Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing and bread.  The entrée choices include Flat Iron Steak with a Cabernet Demi Glaze, Raspberry and Almond Salmon, Roasted Pork Loin with Cabernet Demi Glaze and a vegetarian offering, Portobello Napoleon.  Chef’s choice of potato and vegetable will accompany the meal and dessert will be apple crisp with ice cream, accompanied by coffee or tea.     You may view more about J Michaels Tavern online at www.jmichaelstavern.com.    Michael DiPiano, owner and chef, is looking forward to making our evening a delicious and enjoyable one, so do plan to join us for this occasion.
MORE ON THE WETHERSFIELD/HARTFORD CT AREA             The January Newsletter mentioned several attractions that may be of interest to our members.  All available web links to these attractions have now been posted on our website (click on “Annual Reunion”).            A few additional places in Hartford that you might want to explore include the Old State House and the Ancient Burying Ground in the downtown area, and Elizabeth Park, on the west boundary of the city (partially in West Hartford, actually).  The Old State House is open M-F 9-5 with tours available (small admission fee). The cemetery has free self-guided tours, and Elizabeth Park is open from dawn to dusk with free admission.  The roses should be in bloom at the time of our reunion!  Web link to these three attractions may also be found on our website.  Locations and directions will appear in the June Newsletter.             
Cemetery tour announced.   See Reunion page.
Read more


 A message from the President

This message was started shortly after our last DFA executive board meeting in early November.  In addition to conducting the usual business of the association we enjoyed a fine lunch in a delightful, historic restaurant (The Publick House in Sturbridge, MA) on a beautiful fall day.  We also  shared family stories and browsed through some wonderful historical collections put together by some of our members in years past. Andrew Dickinson had selected these from the extensive material once kept in a file at the Dickinson Memorial Library in Hatfield, MA.

I wanted to convey my good feelings about that meeting to all of you for two reasons.  One is just the fun of getting together with cousins from the DFA and sharing family history.  I expect many of you do that with members of your close family, but it is a wonderful, and different, experience to do so with more distant cousins.  If you have attended any DFA reunions you know that this is one of the great features of the meeting.

My other reason is to encourage you to become more active in the DFA.  Any of you who are reasonably close to the Connecticut River Valley should consider coming to some of our board meetings, not only to help us with our deliberations and mailings, but also to enjoy the type of friendly exchange I described above.  Also, if you’ve never been to a reunion you should make this the year you attend your first one.  The January Survey card enclosed with this mailing gives you an opportunity to express an interest in either or both of these activities.  Please fill it out and return it.

A very happy New Year to all!

Alan C. Dickinson, president 

2009 REUNION UPDATE      Since the last Newsletter, plans for our 2009 reunion in Wethersfield, CT continue to evolve.  We have found what we think is a perfect place for the Friday dinner.  It is J.Michael’s Tavern, located in a charming, historic house across the street from First Church in Old Wethersfield.  Recently the DFA Traveling Gourmet had lunch at this restaurant and found the food to be superb and the atmosphere delightful.  We have already booked it for our Friday evening meeting, social hour and dinner, and we think you’ll enjoy it thoroughly.     We are also making progress on the speaker for the annual meeting.  At this point we can only tell you that we will be learning about the early history of Wethersfield.  More details in the next newsletter. 
                                                                                 NEWSLETTER ALERT      The DFA newsletter typically goes out in January, April, June and November of each year.  The June and November newsletters go out by e-mail to those who are able and willing to receive it this way, and it does save the association time and money.  If you received your last newsletter (Nov. 2008) by postal mail, that means either you have indicated you don’t wish to receive the newsletters electronically, or we do not have a valid e-mail address for you.     We know e-mail addresses change frequently and it is easy to forget to update them.  So if you change your e-mail address we would greatly appreciate your sending the new one to our membership clerk, Beth Landolina, at bethl0719@comcast.net
DFA SCHOLARSHIP            We are now accepting applications for the 2009 DFA Scholarship.  The information and applicationform are on the website and completed forms may be sent to our new scholarship chair, Jean Blackmer.You may also contact her if you have any questions not answered on the information page.   Jean’s addressis 61 Sever Street, Worcester, MA 01609, jean.blackmer@becker.edu .            As always, we rely on contributions from DFA members to sustain and increase the scholarshipfund.  If you are able, we would appreciate your help.  Indicate “scholarship fund” on the JanuarySurvey form if you wish to make a donation.  
THE WETHERSFIELD/HARTFORD CT AREA      Enclosed with this newsletter is a new accommodations list, featuring the central Connecticut area where our 2009 Reunion will be held.  Since this is a more metropolitan region, we hope that availability will not be quite as limited as it has been it in the Amherst area.  However, it is always advisable to make your plans and secure your reservations early.     Also, there are a great many attractions, particularly historic ones, which are well worth taking the time to visit.  To name a few, in Old Wethersfield the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum consists of three historic houses which are open for tours.  The Buttolph-Williams house is another.  There is a Visitor Center and Museum at the Keeney Memorial building.  You’ll enjoy just walking around Old Wethersfield; it is a charming village.     Hartford is home to the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest art museum in the U.S., and an outstanding one as well.  The Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses are also fascinating places to tour.  Any of you who are unfamiliar with this area or have not visited it recently should plan some extra time for exploring.  
NEW MEMBERS       Once again we use the January Newsletter to welcome those new to the DFA.  Between November 2007 and November 2008 we added 34 listings to our active mailing list.  This gives a total of 363, not counting 17 for whom we have no contact information (see “Missing Cousins”).       Here are the names of our new (or reinstated) members:  Nancy Dickinson Brown, CT; Doleta Dickinson Chapru, WI; Sally Chirlin, NY; Amy Conti, MA; Louise Convoy, MA; Daniel and Theresa Dickinson, CT; Elle Dickinson, MA; Erick and Kathleen Dickinson, MA; Marie Dickinson, CT; Sandy Dickinson, WA; Sandra Gildersleeve Dickinson, UT; Malcolm Griffin, OH; Ernest Harlow, MA; Cheyenne Huffor, MA; Sue Shepard Jaques, NJ; Harold James Kempffer, MN; Randall D. Lloyd, NV; Sally Maloney, MA; Jean & Dana Mansur, NJ; Thomas D. McGurk, GA; Vicki Morehouse, MA; Lucy D. Phillips, MA; William Rainwater, NJ; Sharley Reuter, CA; Andy Ritchie, WA; Kathryn Russel de Vries, OR; Deborah Sanders, CA; Donna Santos, CT; Karen Sims, CT; Donna Spillios, ME; Harold Walden, TX; Alice Leverett Wilder, MA; Richard and Carolyn Williams, CA; William and Katie Young, VA.       A few of these people attended the 2008 reunion and one of them is our new secretary.  Welcome to all! 
 MISSING COUSINS      Every year we lose contact with a few of our members due to unreported changes of address.  Our last appeal for information did result in some responses.  In hopes of restoring more people to our mailing list, our membership clerk, Beth Landolina, has again provided a list of people with their last known place of residence: Candy Cooke, ? ; Scott Counsell, Waverly, MA; Edward M. Dickinson, N.S.W.Australia; James Dickinson, San Francisco, CA; James L. and Mardalee B. Dickinson, ? ; Percy A. Dickinson, Ancram, NY; Thomas S. Dickinson – Pasadena MD; Jose Fernandez Dickinson, ? ; Marie Gauthier, W. Suffield, CT; Mary Jane Dickinson Graham, Rossaville, GA; George Hawksley, Bridgeport CT; Lorna Hyland, Waverly, MA; Russell Hyland, Dedham, MA; Ellen Dickinson McTammany, Acton MA;  Belinda West Mulliken, Belmont, MA; Susan E. Dickinson Seufer, Cañon City, CO; Paul W. Toelken, Prescott Valley, AZ.     If you have any information on these people please contact Beth at 82 Evergreen Dr., Tolland, CT 06084; 860-870-0339;  bethl0719@sbcglobal.net.
Read more


A message from the President

This is the first newsletter since our 2007 reunion in Westfield, so for those of you who were not in attendance and those who haven’t seen the review on our website I thought I’d mention a few highlights and memories from that occasion. A number of factors came together in making the reunion the very enjoyable time that it was.  The location had been considered for some time, and with past president Bob Magovern’s help (he is on the board of trustees of Westfield State College) we were able to confirm it as the site of last June’s reunion.  The fact that many Dickinsons have lived in the Westfield/Granville area over the years, and still do, also made it a desirable location.  Having the reunion in an academic setting was certainly conducive to initiating the theme of Dickinsons in the education field.

We had beautiful weather for our weekend, and great food both for the Friday evening dinner at School Street Bistro and for the reunion lunch at the college.  The total attendance was lower than in the last few years, but we did see some members who hadn’t attended for some time and welcomed some new members as well.  Nancy Payne, who retired as secretary last year, was recognized with a framed certificate of appreciation.  Other retired board members who were recognized were the late Robert Bock, publications chair, and his wife, Bucky, genealogist, who was not able to attend.

We enjoyed two outstanding speakers: Ken Haar and Bob Brown.  Ken spoke about the Dickinson School of Southwick and Bob gave us some insight into the development of education, particularly that of teachers, in 19th century Massachusetts and indeed America.  The subject of Bob’s talk was John W. Dickinson, professor, college president and secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education.   All in attendance enjoyed the pleasant, comfortable facilities and services provided for us by Westfield State College.

In June of 2008 we bring our reunion back to Amherst and to Amherst College for the first time in 125 years.   We will be celebrating the grand reunion of 1883 as we continue our emphasis on education.  Attendance at reunions has been dropping in the past few years, so this upcoming reunion should be an excellent time to reverse that trend.  If you have never attended a reunion, this is one you should not miss.  And if you haven’t attended for a while, please make plans to join us for what should be a very memorable one.

Alan C. Dickinson, president

                                               1883 – 2008

                                    A SPECIAL REUNION COMING UP

June 21, 2008 is the date to save for our special reunion, the 125th anniversary of the reunion of 1883.  It will take place on the campus of Amherst College, as did the 1883 meeting.  The venue will be the dining room of the Lewis-Sebring Commons in Valentine Hall.  It is a very elegant, comfortable and well-equipped room, although not the actual location of the original meeting.  In 1883 over 400 Dickinson cousins met in College Hall, which was the former Congregational Church of Amherst.  The building is still there, but now houses college offices, particularly the treasurer’s office.

Our main speaker for the reunion will be Polly Longsworth.  Polly is familiar to regular attendees of our reunions and has spoken to us in years past.  She is a well-known Emily Dickinson scholar and expert on the Dickinsons of Amherst.  Polly is currently at work on a much-anticipated biography of Emily Dickinson.  She is also an honorary member of the Dickinson Family Association.

Friday evening, June 20, our traditional reunion dinner returns to the Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst.  It will be preceded by a short open board meeting and social hour and will take place in the charming “Windowed Hearth Room” as it did in 2006.

We have instituted a series of monthly update/reminders on the reunion which are sent by e-mail to all whose e-mail address we have.  The first went out in October and they will continue in non-Newsletter months to keep you abreast of developments in our plans for this special occasion.  We really want to have a good turnout, so please plan early to attend.

                                             NEWS FROM THE GENEALOGY DEPARTMENT

Last year we regretfully accepted the resignation of long-time genealogist, Margaret Bock.  Our newly elected genealogist, Adrienne Weible, actually started working with “Bucky” before she had officially retired.  Now Adrienne is eager to devote a good chunk of her time to entering genealogical information in our database.  This could eventually lead to publication of a supplement to our 3rd edition genealogy or to another new edition.  However, her work depends on submissions of information from our members.

New members often have a great deal of data to transmit to the genealogist.  But the rest of us should also remember that new information is always being generated.  Whenever there are births, deaths or marriages in your family you should send the details to Adrienne so she can add them to the database.  Also, have you checked your family’s information as it stands in the current genealogy?  If there are errors or omissions, these should be brought to her attention.

Contact Adrienne by e-mail at alw48@aol.com or by postal mail at 4 Briar Cliff Dr., Wilbraham, MA 01095, or by phone, 413-599-0016.  Let’s keep her busy!

                                                       A MILESTONE FOR MARY DICKINSON

At the 2007 Reunion former president Philip B. Dickinson announced that his mother would be celebrating her 100th birthday in October of this year.  Mary M. Dickinson of Granville, Massachusetts, did indeed turn 100 this October.  A birthday card was sent to her from all of us in the DFA.  Bob Leslie reported that he and his wife Muriel (a cousin of Mary’s) attended a gathering in Mary’s honor on October 7 and that she was very alert and looking wonderful.  Congratulations, Mary!!

                                                                NEW SCHOLARSHIP CHAIR

The slate of officers voted in at the last annual meeting included a new chair of the Scholarship Committee.  She is Carrie Salzer and she has been a member of the committee for several years.  Carrie is the daughter of Bob Magovern, past president and current historian of the DFA.  We are grateful that Carrie is willing to take on this position and confident that she will do an excellent job.  Watch for the new scholarship forms for 2008 which will be posted on the website by the first of the year, if not before.

                                                                COOKBOOK   “Family Fare”

Hi, everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderfully colorful season!  At the beginning of November, I will be heading to Utah for a winter of skiing and post-graduate, non-English related seasonal employment! We still have plenty of copies of our cookbook, Family Fare!  The books make excellent holiday gifts, and they provide numerous ideas for holiday cooking and baking.  While I am in Utah, I will continue to take and ship orders for cookbooks with the help of my awesome Mom, Clara.

To order copies of Family Fare, you can visit the DFA website and print the available order form.  Fill it out and send it to Clara Pinkham at 278 Reitman Court, Rochester Hills, MI 48307

The cookbook is $14 per copy, which includes shipping.  Please include a check with your order form.

Thank you, enjoy the book, and have a great holiday season!


Read more


A message from the President

Our 2007 reunion begins a series in which we recognize the contributions of Dickinsons to the field of education.  It also appears to be the first time on record that our reunion has been held on a college campus since the grand reunion of 1883 at Amherst College.  Westfield State College was not founded by a Dickinson, as was Amherst, but John Woodbridge Dickinson was one of its most illustrious presidents and indeed a major contributor to the development of education, especially teacher education, in this country.  We will be fortunate to hear more about John Dickinson from our main speaker, Dr. Robert Brown, former chair of the history department at WSC and now historian of the City of Westfield. 

During the historian’s report in the annual meeting we will also hear from Kenneth Haar, a current faculty member at the college.  Ken is a trustee of the Dickinson School of Southwick, Massachusetts.  He will relate the interesting story of that former school and its impressive trust fund which still exists.

We will be meeting in the large space on the ground floor of the New Residence Hall.  It is very accessible and handicapped parking spaces are nearby.  An adjacent game room is available for children with a safe outdoor area nearby for play if the weather is good.  Our meeting room has comfortable chairs, is air-conditioned and has a view of the woods  which surround the campus.  The college food service will cater the lunch, with a menu similar to those of recent years including chicken, succotash and strawberry shortcake.  Our past president, Bob Magovern, is a trustee at WSC and he raves about the food, so it’s bound to be good!

Although the location is a bit removed from places we’re used to, I think you will find it very enjoyable, so I hope you will decide to come.  Bring along any materials you care to exhibit, and don’t forget to bring your children!  I sincerely hope that we will have a good showing at this year’s reunion.

Alan C. Dickinson, President

                  137th ANNUAL REUNION SCHEDULE


            5 PM                Board Meeting, School Street Bistro, Westfield, MA

            6 PM                Social Hour, School Street Bistro

            7 PM                Dinner, School Street Bistro  (Old building, new restaurant, great food!)


            9:30 AM          Gathering of Cousins, New Residence Hall, Westfield State College

Parking:  Commuter parking lot off Western Avenue

            12 Noon          Welcome and Lunch

            1:15 PM           Annual Meeting and Program

            1:15 PM           Children’s Activities, game room and/or college quadrangle or gym


            Westfield Athenaeum  (www.westath.org);  Center of town, on the green.

                        Friday and Saturday  8:30 AM to 5 PM

            Stanley Park  (www.stanleypark.org)

                        Just east of the college, on the south side of Western Avenue.

            First Congregational Church  (www.churchonthegreen.org)   Center of town. The church welcomes DFA members to attend the 10AM Sunday service.

            The Berkshires  (www.berkshires.org)

                        Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony, the Norman Rockwell Museum , many other museums and a multitude of other attractions are in this beautiful region. 

Please return your reservation card as soon as possible.

Driving directions will appear in the June newsletter.

                                                WESTFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS

 Westfield, the site of our 137th Annual Reunion has been home to a state college since 1892.  It opened as Westfield  State Normal School, later changed to Teacher’s College and in 1956 moved from downtown to its present location on Western Avenue where it became Westfield State College.

Westfield was established in 1669 and was then the westernmost town in Massachusetts.  For many years it was mostly an agricultural community, but the 19th century brought industrialization and Westfield became known as the “Whip City” in reference to one of its early products.  Since that time the town has been home to the Columbia Bicycle Co. and Stanley Home Products among many others.

Today’s City of Westfield is a busy confluence of three major routes: US 20 and 202 and MA 10 (“The College Highway”).  On the central green stands the Westfield Athenaeum, a very unique library dating back to 1830 which also includes outstanding History and Art museums established in the 1920s.  North on rte. 202 is Barnes Airport.  West on Western Avenue, just before the college, is Stanley Park, a large, well-maintained recreation area open to the public which is especially known for its gardens and fountains.  Driving west on rte. 20 takes you to the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.  We hope all who attend our 137th reunion will take advantage of the new venue and explore this beautiful part of the state.

                                   JANUARY SURVEY

Over 320 forms were mailed in January and as of early March we had received 62 responses.  A total of 43 persons were hoping to attend the reunion and 16 the Friday dinner.  More than 80% of our membership didn’t respond, and if you are among them, we do hope you will decide to come.  And we hope each of you will encourage others to attend as well.

Donations of about $1600 were also received with the response cards and we sincerely thank those who contributed. While we are always grateful for contributions to our operating budget, regretfully this year’s contributions to the scholarship fund were down from last year.  We are trying to build up that fund so we can help more students each year.  If you haven’t yet contributed, please consider using the enclosed envelope to send in a contribution, even if you can’t attend the reunion.


A new and exciting season has begun at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts.  In addition to last year’s new tour, “This was a Poet,” of the Homestead only, there will be two more new tours this year.  One, “Grounds of Memory,” is a self-guided landscape tour of the grounds of both the Homestead and The Evergreens.  An audio “wand” will direct visitors to eighteen stops, provide historical information and quote some of Dickinson’s poems.  The narrator is Richard Wilbur and it will be available starting in late April.  The other new tour focuses on architecture.  Some of our current tour guides are being trained to give this tour which will be available in early June.

The major tour, “Emily Dickinson’s World,” which includes both houses, will be enhanced this year by the chance they are an excerpt from a historic radio broadcast made at The Evergreens in 1940 by Ted Malone.  During the 1930s and 1940s, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, the poet’s niece, frequently hosted visitors at The Evergreens in the “Emily Room” to share the story of her aunt’s life and work. 

If you are anywhere near the museum this year, make it a point to stop in.  It is about an hour from the site of our reunion, but if you are in the area for an extra day or two, plan on visiting.  For more information, call    413-542-8161 or look online at www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

                             ANNUAL SCHOLARSHIP ALERT

The deadline of April 30 is fast approaching!  Anyone who plans to apply for the DFA college scholarship and has not already sent in the application should do so promptly.  We plan to notify the winner in early June.  Mail to scholarship chair, Alan Dickinson, 6 Garden Lane, Wilbraham MA 01095.  Questions: 413-596-9648; anbdickinson@charter.net.

Read more