Hadley farmer Levi Stockbridge, 1820-1904, had two intertwined passions in his life, agriculture and founding Massachusetts Agriculture College (MAC), or “Mass Aggie,” which we know today as the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
He not only helped to clear the land for the new school, but was its first full-time employee; its first farm superintendent, 1867-1869; professor, 1867-1879; acting president, 1876; and fifth president, 1880-1882.
It was said of this pragmatic, hands-on farmer that “he made the green
fields his classroom and overalls and leather boots his academic regalia.”
He held patents for his pioneering experiments in fertilizer development,
plant leeching, and soil mulch, and in 1876, somehow found time to
publish Experiments in Feeding Plants.
Stockbridge also served three terms in the state legislature, 12 years on the state board of agriculture, and for 32 years was a state cattle commissioner. This busy agronomist wore many hats.
In 1880 he ran for Congress on the Labor-Greenback ticket and fortunately
for MAC, he lost.
The Boltwood-Stockbridge House, probably the first house built in Amherst
and certainly now its oldest, was originally the home of Samuel Boltwood.
He built it in 1727 when he purchased 111-acres for his farm, and eventually
this land became Mass Agricultural College. Henry Flagg French, its
first president, resided there and when he resigned in 1867, Stockbridge
made it both his home and his office, hence its name.
The Boltwood-Stockbridge house, the two-year agricultural School and the building that houses it, as well as the road that bears his name, serve as deserving campus tributes to this man who, perhaps more than any other of MAC’s founding fathers, strove to make his dream of an agricultural school in the western part of the state a reality. We who come after him are much in his debt.