Submitted by the Longmeadow Historical Society, contributions by Linda Abrams, Curator
A significant gift to the Longmeadow Historical Society many years ago was a very large collection of negatives that are known as the Emerson Collection. These negatives, both glass and nitrate, some more than a century old, represent the efforts of one photographer- a Longmeadow resident, Paesiello Emerson. A 2009 Community Preservation Act grant was used to digitize many of these negatives which can be view on the Longmeadow Historical Society’s website.
One interesting photograph from the Collection shows the Springfield Street Railway trolley tracks on Longmeadow Street and is shown below:
Paesiello was born in Hopkinton MA, February 10, 1832, the oldest child of William Goddard Emerson and Susan (Perkins) Emerson. Paesiello began work as a boot maker in Ashland; a nearby town to Hopkinton with many boot and shoe shops.
Paesiello in 1863, at age 31, enlisted as a private in the 5th Independent Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery. His unit was in action at Rappahannock, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and near Bottoms Bridge on the 8th of June 1864 when Paesiello was wounded by a ten pound parrott shell from which he recovered and saw further action until his unit returned home after the surrender in 1865. His father, stepmother, and their three young children, William, Annie, and Henry moved to Longmeadow in 1872, having purchased the home of Captain Luther Colton at 476 Longmeadow Street now known as the Cooley-Emerson house as it was built by a Cooley in 1760. Paesiello moved to Longmeadow to live with his half-brothers and half-sister shortly after 1900.
Paesiello’s interest in photography began soon after reaching his 70th birthday in 1902. Not only are there extensive photographic images of Longmeadow a century ago, but the collection includes images of Paesiello’s hometown of Hopkintown, his later town of Spenser, more than 20 other communities, as well as Bermuda, Cuba, and other distant locales.
In August 1925 he was presented with the gold-headed ebony cane as the oldest resident in Longmeadow. At his death on 28 Dec 1927, he bequeathed his photographic collection to his half-sister Annie, who later gifted the entire collection to the Longmeadow Historical Society.