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Israel Bissell Homestead Restoration


Links to Sites about Israel Bissell


The residents of Hinsdale Massachusetts are honored by a little known fact relating to the American Revolution.

Israel Bissell, who eventually came to Hinsdale and farmed land in the southwest portion of town, was a post rider on April 19, 1775 when British soldiers fired on the militia at Lexington. He, along with Paul Revere and William Dawes, set out to warn citizens of the events of the day.

Israel rode from Watertown to Connecticut and eventually to Philadelphia in an unbelievable five days, carrying a letter warning of the latest developments.

Israel Bissell lived out the remainder of his life in Hinsdale and was buried in the Maple Street Cemetery, where the people of Hinsdale continue to keep the memory of Israel and his courageous deed alive.


The Bissell Story Revival

Abram Wakeman revived the story of Israel Bissell's ride from its niche in the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1926 at the time of the nation's Sesquicentennial when he wrote about Bissell's record-breaking, almost five-day gallop from Watertown, MA to Philadelphia, PA. One of several post riders linking the Committees of Correspondence in eastern Massachusetts villages, Bissell was chosen to carry the alarm about the British march on Lexington and Concord first to Worcester, MA, south across Connecticut, then to New York City and across New Jersey to Philadelphia's City Hall. Wakeman provided a time table of the trek and described the effects of Bissell's alarm on the communities along his trail, alerting colonists, including Israel Putnam and Benedict Arnold, who hurried with re-enforcements to the Concord area.

At the villages along his route, as ordered, Bissell had to locate the Committees of Correspondence or other town officials who copied and attested receipt of the message, at times in their haste garbling the hand writing, so that by the time he reached Philadelphia, his name on the document looks like "Trail" instead of "Israel." Another historian, John H. Scheide, in a paper presented at the American Antiquarian Society in Boston on April 17, 1940 reported that there were three copies of the dispatch still in existence, and he traced the confusing change in handwriting by various town officials as Bissell waited to pick up the document for the next leg of his horse-killing gallop.

The story has since been told in several media: narrative, verse, radio broadcasts and in a variety of publications: Yankee Magazine in 1956; a feature in the Washington Post newspaper April 20, 1975; in Boston newspapers; in several Eagle newspaper columns; and in an anthology of Revolutionary era documents published in 1975 at the time of the U.S. Dayz. The two separate ballads by Eagle columnists, Gerard Chapman and Clay Perry, wryly compared Bissell's long trek with Paul Revere's short Middlesex ride which was interrupted, incomplete, with Revere 's temporary capture by a British patrol, but made famous by Longfellow's rhythmic poem printed in many school books.

Using a copy of the Pennsylvania Society's document and Wakeman's article now in the archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland , OH Marion Ransford (1894-1990) the Hinsdale historian, publicized the Bissell story in the Berkshire area. The two ballads by the Eagle columnists were printed in the Eagle on different Patriot's Days. A song broadcast by local radio stations in Pittsfield and Great Barrington echoed the story more widely. Maria Rockwood, a nationally known composer, composed the song, "Israel Bissell's Ride," both words and music, broadcast on radio stations WBRK and WBEC in Pittsfield and WSBS in Great Barrington on Patriots' Day April 19, 1956 . A transcript of the broadcast reads: "You have just heard a recording of 'Israel Bissell's Ride' by the talented composer, Mrs. Maria Rich Rockwood. The vocalist was Donald J. Williams, well-known Pittsfield baritone, Mr. Williams was accompanied by the composer, Mrs. Rockwood, at the piano."

Mrs. Ransford also helped involve the Daughters of American Revolution with the installation of a special marker and ceremony at Bissell's grave in the Hinsdale Maple Street Cemetery, and encouraged Isadore Goodman of the Pittsfield Isgood Realty Agency, with his donation of the 1.29-acre Israel Bissell homestead site on Plunkett Lake Road as a gift to the town of Hinsdale on October 23, 1972. And she helped the authors and artist in the writing of their children's book about Israel Bissell, "The Remarkable Ride of Israel Bissell as related by Molly the Crow," writtten by Mrs. Alice Schnick of Moneterey and Mrs. Marjorie N. Allen of Pittsfield and handsomely illustrated by Joel Schnick, Alice Schnick's husband. With some forty-eight pages, it was published in the US Dayz year, 1976, by J. B. Lippincott Company.

Now at the time of another Patriots' Day and the two hundred twenty-ninth anniversary of his trip, the Bissell message can be carried again, but in a medium he probably could never have imagined, where messages are spread world-wide instantaneously - and with no saddle sores and no exhausted horses. Hinsdale Web sites [ and http//] parallel Bissell's bouncing saddlebag and his shouts of alarm on the farms and village greens of five east coast colonies. (Leonard F. Swift, Hinsdale , MA , April, 2004)


"Wednesday morning near 10 of the clock - Watertown

To all the friends of American liberty be it known that this morning before break of day, a brigade, consisting of about 1,000 to 1,200 men landed at Phip's Farm at Cambridge and marched to Lexington, where they found a company of our colony militia in arms, upon whom they fired without any provocation and killed six men and wounded four others. By an express from Boston, we find another brigade are now upon their march from Boston supposed to be about1,000. The Bearer, Israel Bissell, is charged to alarm the country quite to Connecticut and all persons are desired to furnish him with fresh horses as they may be needed. I have spoken with several persons who have seen the dead and wounded. Pray let the delegates from this colony to Connecticut see this.

(Signed) J. Palmer, one of the Committee of Safety.


On June 12, 2004 The GE ELFUN SOCIETY & local townspeople joined forces to spruce up the Israel Bissell Homestead on Plunkett Reservoir Road. The project included: rebuilding & painting a wishing well, clearing of brush, exposing the stone foundations & stone walls, making a path to the wishing well, installing a flag pole, installing trail benches, planting flowers and mulching around trees.

A special Thanks to the following people who have made this possible:

Bill Pike 

Jarod Morrison

Tara Brown 

Janelle Wendorf  

Nathan Crooker   

John Verkamp     

Jeremy Schmitt   

Kate Finger

Alison Graver    

Emily Perry

Renika Sehgal    

Phil Collins

Martha Dowling

Dennis Petell

Adam Petell

Kirsten Petell

Betty Petell

Ray Petell Sr.

Ann White

Erin White

Christopher White

Brenda Manarchik

David Manarchik

Don Adams

Ron "Jonesy" Jones


DJ SWAIL Excavating

Dave Swail, Dennis Petell, Adam Petell


Jones Sand & Gravel

 stone for the path


Daniels Lawncare

Gary Daniels

Hinsdale DPW & Hinsdale Selectmen

Petell’s Auto Salvage & Bissellville Muster Team

John Goddard Builders

Hinsdale Volunteer Firemens Association & Muster Team

Jodi’s Flowers

Hinsdale Dayz Committee – 

(especially Phil Collins & Carole Forward)




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