[The History of] Shrewsbury
BY WILLIAM T. HARLOW
D. Hamilton Hurd, (ed.), History of Worcester County Masachusetts with Historical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men (Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1889), vol. I, pp. 780-810. with corrections to the text added by Hiram Harlow; computer transcription by Robert J. Cormier.
____ EARLY LAND GRANTS
THE MARLBOROUGH MEN AND WHEN SOME OF THEM SETTLED
GRANT OF TOWNSHIP - LAY OUT OF LOTS - INCORPORATION
THE MEETING HOUSE LOT AND THE HOUSES THAT WERE BUILT THEREON
THE FIRST PARISH AND ITS MINISTERS: CUSHING, SUMNER,INGERSOLL
THE SECOND PARISH - THE BAPTIST, UNIVERSALIST AND METHODIST
THE FRENCH WARS THE REVOLUTION THE WAR OF 1812 AND ...
SHOWING THE PART WHICH SHREWSBURY TOOK IN SHAYS REBELION
THE SLAVEHOLDERS REBELLION
AGRICULTURE - THE STAGE BUSINESS - THE TANNING AND CURRYING
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION GRADUATES OF COLLEGES PUBLIC
BIOGRAPHICAL JONATHAN H. NELSON
EARLY LAND GRANTS
back to index
The history of Shrewsbury properly begins with certain land grants of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, located within the territory of which the town was afterwards formed. These grants, called farms, named after the grantees and five in number, were: (1) Davenport's Farm, 650 acres; (2) Haynes' Farm, otherwise called Quinsigamond Farm, 3200 acres; (3) Malden Farm, 1000 acres; (4) Rawson's Farm, 500 acres, and (5) Sewall's Farm, 1500 acres. But the quantity of land in these grants was, in fact, greatly in excess of the number of acres named, and the aggregate was, doubtless, more than 10,000 acres. 1. The Davenport Farm, granted to Captain Richard Davenport, commander of Castle Island, in Boston Harbor, in consideration of public services, was laid out to him in the valley of the Nashua River, in that part of Shrewsbury now West Boylston and Boylston, and included very valuable mill sites, as well as the finest parcel of intervale land lying in a body to be found in Massachusetts east of Connecticut River. Its final confirmation to the grantee was May 28, 1659. Capt. Davenport came to Salem with Gov. Endicott in 1628, and after many years of public service wag killed by lightning ("tooke away by ye solemne strooke of Thunder"), while sleeping by his magazine, with only the wainscot between him and the powder. His son Richard, with his two sons, William and Nathaniel, came to Shrewsbury about 1736 and settled upon this grant. 2. The grantees of the Haynes' Farm, who did not themselves give their own name to their grant, but called it by the more euphonious title given by the Indians to "ye Greate Pond that lyeth West Pointe to ye sd farm," were the brothers John and Josiah Haynes, of Sudbury, and their brother-in-law, Nathaniel Treadway, of Watertown. The Haynes brothers, with their sisters, Sufferance and Mary, were the children of Walter Haynes, a Wiltshire linen weaver, who, with his wife Elizabeth and children, all under sixteen years, came in the good ship "Confidence" from England in 1638, and settled in Sudbury. This grant was originally made to Isaac Johnson in consideration of "£400 adventured by the said Mr. Johnson in the common stock of "The Governor and company of ye Massachusetts Bay in New England," which, to begin with, was little else but an incorporated trading company founded on the East India plan. Johnson dying, this grant, as yet unlocated and accounted personal estate, came into the possession of his executor, Increase Nowell. Johnson and Nowell were both original patentees of the colony charter of 1628 and had part with Winthrop in importing it to New England. Nowell also dying before location of the grant, his executor sold it to John Haynes and his brother Josiah and their brothers-in-lawÑNathaniel Treadway, who married their sister Sufferance and Thomas Noyes, who married their other sister, Mary. It was finally laid out to the Haynes brothers and Treadway (Noyes having died), and confirmed by the General Court May 27, 1664. The southwest corner of Haynes' Farm was at the going out of the Nipnapp River from the southernmost end of Quinsigamond Ponds and both the islands there belonged to the farm and so to the town of Shrewsbury to this day. Another corner was where the town bound between Northborough and Shrewsbury now stands, by the Great Road near the house of Mr. William U. Maynard. The northwest and southeast corners of the grant cannot be fixed with exactness, but cannot have been very remote from where the two school-houses, Nos. 3 and 5, now stand. The northern boundary curved northward and crossed the Boylston road near where Mr. Lowell Walker now lives, and thence passed on to the Northborough line. I have been thus particular to trace the origin and show the location of the Haynes Farm, because it was much the largest of the five grants, because it was the owners of this large tract of land that formed the nucleus of the Marlborough colony that settled Shrewsbury, and because the facts are not well known. 3. One hundred of the one thousand acres of Malden Farm were in Worcester. Its southern boundary line was three hundred and seventy rods long, and the southernmost point of West Boylston was the centre of this line, and the line running northerly for about two miles from this point, between the two towns of Boylston and West Boylston, divided this farm into two equal parts. Its northwest corner is said in the lay-out to be about a mile distant from the Davenport Farm. The original grant to the town of Malden, made May 9, 1662, was on condition that "ye ministry of Maulden do cause it to be bounded out and put on improvement within three years next ensewing." The location of the grant by metes and bounds was duly made and confirmed within the time prescribed, May 3, 1665, but the only improvements made were marking forest trees, at the corners, with the letter M. On this ground, want of improvements within three years, the validity of the grant was disputed by the proprietors of Shrewsbury, and their records contain frequent references to this grant as the "pretended Malden Farm." In 1736 Rev. Joseph Emerson, of Malden, and minister of God's Word there, brought suit in the Worcester Common Pleas against Ephraim Wheeler and David Crosby, of Shrewsbury, for possession of the nine hundred acres of this grant which lay in Shrewsbury. This suit was defended by the proprietors, by whose direction Wheeler and Crosby had taken possession of the land, and Nahum Ward, one of the proprietors, acted as their counsel in the suit. On trial in the Common Pleas the verdict and judgment were for the defendants, but Mr. Emerson appealed and prevailed in the Superior Court, final judgment for the plaintiff, October Term, 1736. But the proprietors were not content, and the next year Mr. Ward was sent to the Great and General Court to re-open the question determined in the suit, and for four years Mr. Ward continued to press petitions for a new trial and for re-location of the grant, in vain. Malden Hill and Malden Brook were both named from this grant, though neither hill nor brook is in it. From uncertainty about the location of the grant, it may have been supposed or claimed that its location was so as to include the brook and hill. 4. Secretary Edward Rawson received from time to time grants of several parcels of land to eke out his pitiful salary, and among the rest a rectangle of five hundred acres lying between Marlboro', Lancaster and Worcester, about half a mile north of Haynes' Farm, and Deacon John Haynes located it for him. It was one mile (three hundred and twenty rods) long by two hundred and fifty rods wide. Rawson's Hill, called in the grant by its Indian name of Ashant's Hill, was in it and Cold Harbor Rawson Brook ran through it. Some years before this grant to him the secretary had spent some money to no profit in experiments with saltpetre or something he thought was saltpetre, and the General Court, to encourage such patriotic experimenting and compensate him for his losses thereabout, granted him five hundred acres of land "near Pequot," but afterwards gave him thirty pounds instead of the land. As no consideration is expressly named in the grant which was located in Shrewsbury, and the quantity is the same, it is probable that this grant was a renewal of the other, modified so that it might be "layd out in any free place not prejudicing a plantation." The lay-out and confirmation of this grant was May 13, 1686. 5. Sewall's Farm lay on the westerly side of Shrewsbury, with a narrow strip between it and Worcester line. Its south boundary line was a little south of the Great Road, its southwest corner near the head Quinsigamond Pond. Its given dimensions were seven hundred and eighty rods long, south to north, and three hundred and forty rods wide, east to west, or not quite two miles and one-half long by a little more than a mile wide Ñ extending from its south line, before mentioned, beyond and including Grass Pond, (once so called, but for three generations last past known as Sewall's Pond), in Boylston. It was bounded for a considerable distance on its west side by Malden Farm, and also for a less distance on the east by Haynes' Farm, and so connected the two. It had on it two mill-sites, Ñ one a little below Sewall's Pond, where Banister's Mills were built, and the other, now unoccupied, but much the better water-power of the two, near the house of Mr. Frederick E. Abbott, where once stood Harlow's Mills, burned nearly forty years ago. Sewall's Hill, as well as Sewall's Pond, is within the farm limits, and both took their name from the grantee, Samuel Sewall, chief justice of the old Superior Court of Judicature, one of the judges who tried the Salem witches and the only one of them that is known to have repented thereof; author of Sewall's Diary, etc. The south part of Sewall's Farm Ñ one thousand acres Ñ was laid out and confirmed November 20, 1695, to James Russell, sometime colony treasurer, to whom the grant (originally made to Deputy-Governor Francis Willoughby, in consideration of public service) came, unlocated, by descent from his father, Richard Russell, also sometime colony treasurer, who had bought it of the Deputy-Governor. Chief Justice Sewall's title to this part of his farm in Shrewsbury was by purchase of Treasurer James Russell. His title to the north part Ñ five hundred acres Ñ was in right of his wife, who was the only daughter of Mintmaster John Hull, who "by minting made a mint of money "for himself, as well as for the colony, and became the richest man of New England. Hannah Hull married Samuel Sewall long before he was chief justice, or hung the witches, or had made much progress in his famous diary, or was famous for anything, and brought her husband a marriage-portion of £30,000, all duly counted out to him on the wedding day in "pine-tree" shillings, fresh from her father's mint. This grant, which had come to Madam Hannah Hull Sewall through her father, in some way that I have not yet been able to trace, was confirmed to her and her husband, May 27, 1696. A rude plan of Sewall's Farm may be seen in the Worcester Registry of Deeds, with a deed, dated June 1, 1732, of a moiety thereof from William Pepperell, of Kittery, et ux. et als. to Nahum Ward, of Shrewsbury. This was thirteen years before the famed exploit of Louisburg, and the thrifty trader of Kittery was then only a hero in posse, and tenant, in common with others, of fifteen hundred acres of real estate in Shrewsbury, in right of his wife, who was Mary Hurst, and one of Chief Justice Sewall's three granddaughters, and so copartner of the real estate aforesaid. This plan was made, as appears from the deed, from a survey made in November, 1714, by David Haynes, youngest son of Deacon John, of Sudbury, and one may read in the Sewall Diary the following entry, under date "1714, 8r 6. Mr. David Hayns dines with us.... gave him the Bounds of Quanssicamon Farms, that he may review and refresh them." Whereby one may note that the Indians' name for Long Pond (whatever may be the Indians' spelling of it) was once applied to Sewall's Farm, as well as to Haynes'. Probably it was to distinguish the two that at a later period they were called after their respective grantees.
THE MARLBOROUGH MEN AND WHEN SOME OF THEM SETTLED back to index
It will aid to a better understanding both of what precedes and what is to follow to give a brief account of the road through Shrewsbury anciently called the Connecticut Road, Ñ in later times the Country Road, the Stage Road, Post Road and Great Road. The original road from Massachusetts Bay to the Connecticut River did not pass through Shrewsbury at all, but to the south of it. It was merely the old trail of the Indians. The new Connecticut Road was laid out by Major John Pynchon, whose father William had founded a town at either end of it. The "worshipful" major's authority was an order of the General Court, under date March 30, 1683, in these words: "WHEREAS the way to Kornecticut, now used, being very hazardous to travelers by reason of one deepe river that is passed fower or five times over, which may be avoided, it is referred to Major Pynchon to order ye said way to be layd out & well marked. He having hyred two injuns to guide him in the way for fifty shollings, it is ordered that the Treasurer pay them the same in country pay towards effecting this worke." The principal change of the old way consisted in passing north instead of south of Quinsigamond Pond, and so through Shrewsbury. Departing from the old way, it passed northerly of Little Chauncey Pond in Northborough into Shrewsbury exactly where the Great Road enters the town today, and thence through the town to the head of Quinsigamond Pond, on substantially the same line as the present road. But in 1726 it was relocated by a jury sent out by the Middlesex Court of Sessions, whose accepted return, so far as relates to the relocation in Shrewsbury, is as follows (what immediately precedes relates to the way in Worcester): "And thence in Shrewsbury, keeping the old way, crossing the Brook, running into Long Pond, and so keeping the old way south of Gershom Wheelock's house, and between the house and barn of Daniel How, & so still keeping the old road till it comes out of the woodland east of said How's, on the edge of the Great Rocky Plain, and so keeping very nigh a straight line a little south of Mr. Cushing's house, on the east side of the aforesaid Plain, and then in the old way till it come to Capt. Keyes' fenced land, and so crossing a small corner of said Keyes' fenced ground, and then in the old way running between said Keyes' house and barn, and so keeping the old road south of Widow Blair's, and so to the Westborough line in the old road, passing between Daniel Barnes' house and barn," etc. That is to say, the relocated road crossed the town line in exactly the same place where the old road crossed it, nor has there been any change had, either in the road or the town line from that time (1726) to this day, and the town bound by the road here stands precisely where it was established in 1717 by the viewing committee's report "at a heap of stones, called Warner's Corner, which is the most easterly corner of Haynes' Farm by the Country Road." Daniel Barnes occupied the sixteenth houselot of the proprietors' records, "bounded easterly by the town line, northerly by Haines' old Farm . . . and" (the lot) "lyeth where Mr. Warner formerly improved." This is the place where Mr. William U. Maynard now lives, and is without doubt the earliest place in Shrewsbury occupied by a white man. Whoever Mr. Warner may have been, and whatever may have become of him, certain it is that he had no title to the land "where he formerly improved." His corner makes a very noticeable and unexplained jog into the boundaries of Haynes' Farm laid out in 1664, and he was probably some daring pioneer who was either driven out or perished during King Philip's War. Widow Mary Blair, mentioned also in the relocation of 1726, lived with her children on the place where Mr. Samuel Johnson now lives. It was house lot No. 12, "situated near where Warner formerly improved, bounded northerly on Haines' old Farm, easterly by the 16th House-Lot," etc. The widow's husband, William Blair, died shortly after coming to Shrewsbury, and the Barnes and Blair families both certainly here in 1726, not long afterwards returned to Marlborough. The germ of the movement for settlement of Shrewsbury is described in a deed of partition of Haynes' Farm, dated April, 1717, which, after reciting the "orderly" meeting of the owners, twenty-three in number, heirs and purchasers of the rights of Deacon John Haynes, Lieutenant Josiah Haynes and Mr. Nathaniel Treadway, all deceased, the appointment of a committee to go with John Brigham, surveyor, and divide the farm into three parcels ready to draw lots, and a second meeting of said owners December 10, 1716, at David How's house in Sudbury, then sets out the committee's report that they had divided the farm by east and west lines into three parts or squadrons Ñ whereupon, lots being drawn, the North Squadron fell to the heirs and purchasers of the right of Deacon John Haynes, the South Squadron to the heirs of Lieutenant Joshua Haynes and the Middle Squadron to the heirs and purchasers of the right of Mr. Nathaniel Treadway. Of the twenty-three signers of this deed, the following or their children settled in Shrewsbury: John Keyes, Joseph Noyes, Moses Newton, Daniel How, Elias Keyes, Samuel Wheelock, Thomas Hapgood, Edward Goddard and William Taylor. Samuel Wheelock's son Gershom is reputed to have been the first permanent settler of Shrewsbury, and the place where he settled was on the share of his father in Haynes' Farm Ñ on the north side of the Great Road, between where Mr. Levi Prentice and Mr. William Fitzgerald now live. Tradition represents him as sleeping aloft in his cabin during the winter nights of 1716-17, and drawing up his ladder after him, "whistled an air did he," doubtless to keep up his courage. How long he continued to live there I have not ascertained, but certain it is that he was still there in 1726, as appears from the relocation of the Great Road at that time. In 1720 his father gave him a deed of this lot, and February 10, 1729, house lot No. 26, which lyeth near the west bounds of Hains' old Farm," was in possession of Samuel Wheelock. Gershom Wheelock, the first settler, who had both a son and a grandson of the same name, was commonly called in his lifetime Captain Wheelock, from his militia rank, and his father was called the deacon from his office in the church, of which he was one of the founders. Deacon Wheelock was a member of the first Board of Selectmen and a very active man in church and town affairs for many years. Mr. Cushing, mentioned in the relocation, is Rev. Job Cushing, who and whose place of abode will be further noticed later. John Keyes, whose house, barn and fenced land is referred to in the relocation of 1726, son of Elias Keyes, of Sudbury, and grandson of Robert Keyes, of Watertown, who came from England in 1633, had his share of Haynes' Farm assigned to him on the south side of the Great Road, nearly opposite where the currier's shop stands in the Lower Village. In 1723 he built a new house a few rods east of the rude and primitive cabin that he first lived in, but before it was finished both houses were burnt in the night and Mr. Keyes' three sons and two apprentices of Ebenezer Bragg, the carpenter, who was building the new house, perished in the flames. Mr. Bragg, also sleeping in the same house, barely escaped. The old house was also burned, but the inmates, Mr. Keyes and wife and four daughters, were awakened by Mr. Bragg just in time to flee out of it. John Keyes held commissions as captain and major in the militia, and is traditionally known as the famous Major John Keyes. He is not to be confounded with Deacon John, his cousin, who settled in the North Parish. In 1726 he evidently had built another house, as the relocated Great Road passed between it and his barn. A very active and energetic man, member of the first and many subsequent Boards of Selectmen. He bought a moiety of Sewall's Farm, and thus became tenant in common with Nahum Ward, who was his uncle, of that large tract of land. Elias Keyes, who was the cousin of famous Major John, had his share of the farm assigned him near his cousin's but, in 1741, with his family, joined another colony that swarmed out of the Marlborough hive and followed the star of empire on its westward way to New Marlborough, in far-off Berkshire. The surname of Keyes is now extinct in Shrewsbury. But the Flaggs, of Boylston, are descendants of famous Major John, by his daughter Hannah, who married Gershom Flagg. Daniel Noyes, of Sudbury, who settled on the South Squadron of Haynes' Farm, was descended both from Ensign Thomas Noyes and Lieutenant Josiah Haynes. He was the son of Joseph, who signed the partition deed. His grandfather, also named Joseph, was the son of Ensign Thomas, and his grandmother was Ruth Haynes, daughter of Lieutenant Josiah. Neither of the Newtons, Moses nor Thomas, settled in Shrewsbury. They sold their shares in Haynes' Farm to Nahum Ward, who was their cousin, but their children came to Shrewsbury at an early day and settled here. Elisha Newton, son of Moses, was grandfather of the late Calvin Newton, of this town, and settled on the place, part of Sewall's Farm, where Peter Gamache now lives, where also Mr. Newton (Calvin), whose three sons, still living in this town, were all born there, lived and died. Elisha Newton's brother, Aaron, also settled in the North Parish (Boylston), and so also did Thomas Newton, son of Thomas, who signed the partition deed. Nahum Ward, who bought the Newtons' share of Haynes' Farm, though not one of the twenty-three owners in 1717, was one of the first comers here and his purchase, a large tract, lay on the south side of the road opposite the common, extending thence both easterly and westerly. His great-grandson, author of a history of Shrewsbury, supposes he was here before 1718, and living near the Jonas Stone house (now owned by Mr. Frederick Stone, of Boston), but William Taylor at that time owned the land where that house stands, and Mr. Ward owned no land nearer than the south side of the Great Road. Mr. Ward was colonel of a militia regiment in the Provincial Line, and chairman of the first and member of many subsequent Boards of Selectmen; many times representative to the General Court, and a justice of the Worcester County Court of Common Pleas, 1745-62. He was admitted to the Worcester bar in 1731, but I have not found a case of his acting as counsel except in the Malden suit elsewhere mentioned. He was father of General Artemas Ward and ancestor of all who ever bore the Ward name in Shrewsbury. William Ward, who came from York, England, to Sudbury, about 1640, was his grandfather. The Newtons, of Shrewsbury, also are descended from William Ward. Daniel How settled on the North Squadron, and kept a tavern on the Great Road, where the Shrewsbury Poor-House formerly stood, on land now belonging to Mr. George H. Harlow. He was son of Josiah How, of Marlborough, and grandson of John How, who came from England and settled in Sudbury in 1638, or earlier, and on his mother's side he was grandson of Deacon John Haynes, one of the original grantees of Haynes' Farm. His mother, whose maiden name was Mary Haynes, was in 1713 owner of a share of the "farm at Quinsigamond," and under the name and addition of Mary Prescott, of Lancaster, conveyed it to "her true and well beloved son, Daniel How, of Marlborough." The North Squadron, by lot, as we have seen, fell to the heirs and purchasers of the right of Deacon John. In explanation of his mother's name and addition, it should be added that her first husband, Josiah How, Daniel's father, dying young, she afterwards married John Prescott, of Lancaster, son of the famous blacksmith, miller and Indian fighter, who was the first settler and founder of the first town in the county of Worcester. Daniel How was the first town treasurer, and held the office several years, and he was many years a member of the selectmen, and let the reader note the relocation, in 1726, of the Great Road between his house and barn as showing where he lived and kept tavern, and also where the road then was. From his militia office he usually went by the name of Captain How. Thomas Hapgood was great-grandson of Nathaniel Treadway, one of the original grantees of Haynes' Farm, to whose heirs fell the Middle Squadron, and he settled in Shrewsbury and built his house near where Mr. Albert Clapp now lives, and Mr. Clapp's farm is part of Thomas Hapgood's share of the Middle Squadron. He was son of Thomas Hapgood, of Marlborough, who lived to see his great-great-grandchildren, and had three hundred and thirteen descendants living at his death, and his (the said Thomas, of Shrewsbury) grandfather was Shadrach Hapgood, of Sudbury, who married Treadway's daughter Elizabeth, and was killed in the Indian fight at Brookfield, in 1675. Thomas Hapgood's name is twice signed to the partition deed with a cross Ñ once for himself and again as attorney for another. He was a militia captain, and commonly called Captain Hapgood, town treasurer ten years and often a selectman. His three sisters, Mary, Elizabeth and Hepzibah, who were, of course, of the same descent with him, married and settled in Shrewsbury. Edward Goddard, who married the said Hepzibah Hapgood, was born in Watertown, where his father and grandfather Ñ both also named Edward Ñ lived and where the latter, who married Elizabeth Miles and came with her from England about 1650, first settled. He settled in the North Squadron, on the place which Edward Howe now owns, and built the house in which Mr. Howe still lives, and which, under its modernized exterior, I suppose, retains the frame of the oldest house in Shrewsbury. The Goddard farm extended to and was bounded on the northernmost boundary line of Haynes' Farm. Mr. Goddard, who is distinguished from most of the other newcomers to Shrewsbury by having no military title, was an active man in church and town, held the office of selectman and other town officers, and was a man of considerable means. William Taylor, who married Captain Hapgood's other sister, Elizabeth, was also a man of considerable means for his day, but did not wholly escape, like his brother-in-law, militia honors. His name in town and church-records, I believe, has the uniform prefix of sergeant. He settled on a lot of the North Squadron, adjoining Goddard's, being the place where Mr. Charles A. Holman now lives, and where the late Amasa Howe, great-grandson of Taylor, lived; where lived also Amasa's father, Nathan, and his grandfather, also named Nathan, who was son of Captain Daniel How, and married Sergeant Taylor's daughter, Hepzibah. The house which William Taylor built was taken down by Amasa Howe in 1849. The Taylor farm or share which he had in the North Squadron extended south to the Great Road, and included the site of the house in which his great-great-grandson, Thomas Harlow, now lives, and all the other land to and including the Common and the site of the Sumner house. The Great Road was substantially on the line between the North and Middle Squadrons, and this was Taylor's south line. The name Taylor as a surname died in Shrewsbury with the first comer, but his descendants, by six daughters, are very numerous. His father and grandfather both lived in Marlborough, and were both named William Taylor. He was many years a selectman of Shrewsbury.
GRANT OF TOWNSHIP - LAY OUT OF LOTS - INCORPORATION - ORIGIN OF THE NAME OF THE TOWN back to index
In colony and provincial records and early deeds recorded at Cambridge and Worcester one meets frequent reference to a tract of land, larger than any existing town of this Commonwealth, as "lying between Marlborough, Worcester and Lancaster," or "joyning ye west side of Marlborough town bounds," or "lying east pointe to Quonsigamon Ponds," or as "Quonsiccamon Farms," or a "meete place for a plantation near Quansiggamog," the Indian name in our times uniformly written Quinsigamond, one to two hundred years ago, being differently spelt almost every time it was written, and being applied to the vicinity of Long Pond as well as to the pond itself much oftener, too, as it were quite easy to show, to the east side, not withstanding the complacent appropriation of it by our neighbors of Worcester, than to the west side of the pond. The question why formation of this large tract of land into a town was delayed till after all the other territory in the vicinity was formed into towns has been often asked, but the answer is not far to seek, and in truth has been already given. The choicest portions of it had been already granted, and in the language of the report of a viewing committee sent out to find a meet place for a plantation at Quinsigamond, it had been "spoiled by the granting of farms." After the death of the original grantees of the Haynes' Farm, several of their heirs sold their rights or shares therein, and in 1716 the owners of it, twenty-three in number, living mostly in Marlborough, but some of them in Sudbury and other towns, with a view to division and settlement of their three thousand two hundred acres at Quinsigamond, caused it to be surveyed and divided up. Their surveyor was John Brigham, of Marlborough, who was the grantee of a large "farm" in the West Parish of that town, and was at that very time pushing a scheme for setting off that parish as a new town, to be called Westborough, and the owners of the Haynes' Farm employed Mr. Brigham to draw up and present to the General Court a petition for the grant of the whole of the large tract between Marlborough and Worcester as a township. This petition, which was signed by John Brigham himself and thirty others, is said to have been lost, and it is not known who all of the petitioners were nor exactly what they asked for, but it was referred, together with another petition of which also John Brigham was the first signer, for incorporation of his new town of Westborough, to the same viewing committee, who reported favorably on both petitions. But it is easy to see that Mr. Brigham and his committee, of which John Chandler, of Woodstock, was chairman, and to which the reference of both these petitions was of course no accident, were looking mainly to the interest of the new town and less to those of the new township. A good slice from the latter Ñ to wit, a strip between the former boundary of Marlborough and Haynes' Farm Ñ was added to the former by the committee, who thought that the petitioners for the township were competent members and likely to make a speedy settlement, and that the slice proposed to be taken would not so disadvantage the township but that it might make a good town Ñ that is to say, if the owners of all the five farms at Quinsigamond would make common cause with the petitioners, there would be plenty of land left after parting with the slice in question. November 2, 1717, the General Court accepted the committee's report and "ordered that the tract of land protracted and described, together with the farms heretofore granted to particular persons contained in the plot, be made a township, excepting "the slice referred to, and appointed a Committee to lay out the whole of said lands (except the lands before granted) to persons most likely to advance settlement of the place, who were to pay not exceeding twelve pence per acre to the use of the Province and the committee's charge for laying out. The committee, of which Jonathan Remington was chairman, laid out forty-five lots of about seventy acres each, with a fifty-acre right to each, by which I understand a right in the settler to have fifty acres more in the undivided lands, and also laid out for each lot about six acres of valuable meadow often quite remote from the lot. The "valuable meadow" was swamp land, and is at the present day less highly valued than it once was. And the proprietors, March 28, 1722, granted "the committy to settle the town" fifteen hundred acres for laying out the lots. The Committee's Farm, so-called, was a parcel of good land in the northwest corner of the township called the Leg, on the Stillwater River, now a part of Sterling. Many persons have been misled by Ward's "History of Shrewsbury" into supposing that it was upon the lots laid out by the Remington committee that all the first-comers to Shrewsbury settled, and such appears to have been the belief of Mr. Ward himself. The number of the proprietors in 1718, as appears from the apportionment of a tax, was forty-five and a lot was laid out for each one, and a few of the men to whom lots were assigned no doubt settled upon them personally. But it was upon the Haynes' Farm, which covered all the land on both sides of the Great road, extending southerly beyond where the Worcester turnpike was afterwards laid, that most of the new-comers from Marlborough settled. The lots numbered one to sixteen, were laid out on a strip of land extending along the south and east boundary lines of the town Ñ that is between Haynes' Farm and the town of Grafton on the south, and the towns of Westborough and Northborough on the east Ñ and if one will carefully examine the description of these lots, as taken by Mr. Ward from the proprietors' book, he will find frequent recurrence to the "town lines" and Haines' Old Farm" as boundaries. Lots Nos. 17, 18 and 19 lay east of Rawson's Farm, whose locality has been before given, and Nos. 21, 22 (which was the minister's lot) and 23 lay between Haynes' Farm and Rawson's Farm, and the description of all these lots refer to these so-called "farms" as boundaries. The other lots are more difficult to locate with exactness. Most of them were in that part of Shrewsbury now Boylston and West Boylston. No. 24 is "bounded westerly by Judge Sewall's Farm;" No. 26 "lyeth near the west bounds of Haines' Old Farm ;" No. 30" Lyeth near the North End of Davenport's Farm; "Nos. 31, 32 and 34 are bounded by the "pretended Malden Farm," etc., etc. Mr. Ward has copied these descriptions containing these references to the farms without inquiry as to what or where they were. Ten years after the township grant the town of Shrewsbury was incorporated Ñ not by a formal act, but by an order upon application of the inhabitants for incorporation dated December 19, 1727. Mr. Ward thinks it was so called from the English town of that name, whence may have come the ancestors of some of the proprietors. Before Saxon scholars gave the true etymology of the name it was said to mean the borough of shrews, which may be either a kind of moles or a kind of wives. The Saxons, who took the English town in the fifth century, derisively changed its Welsh name to Scrobbes-Byrig (scrub town), of which the name Shrewsbury is a euphonious corruption. But there is neither evidence nor reason for supposing any of the proprietors' ancestors came from the English Shrewsbury. Like many other towns, probably Shrewsbury took its name from a prominent man of the time when it was in want of one. Our neighbor on the south is well known to have been named from the Duke of Grafton, damned to everlasting fame in the letters of Junius. Charles Talbot titular Earl of Shrewsbury by birth, was one of the seven who signed the declaration inviting over the Prince of Orange on the abdication of James II., and became Secretary of State to King William with title of Duke of Shrewsbury. On account of his winning manners Talbot is said to have been named by William of Orange King of Hearts, and habitually called by this pleasant title by the whole royal court. Under Queen Anne he held the offices of First lord Chamberlain and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and finally with her dying breath the Queen gave him the staff of Lord High Treasurer, that a sure hand might hold the helm of state at her death and safely transmit the Protestant succession. As soon as the Queen had drawn her last breath Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury, August 14, 1714, proclaimed George Lewis, Elector of Hanover, King of England and Ireland. The Duke died 1718, between which time and Queen Anne's death our town was settling, and as a child born in some historical crisis is named from a prominent actor in it, so the town of Shrewsbury took its name from the statesman who, notwithstanding public apprehension of the Pretender, had safely transmitted the English crown in the Protestant line. But if the same partiality for Indian names had existed in early times as now, probably Shrewsbury and Grafton would have continued to be called Quinsigamond and Hassanimisco to this day.
THE MEETING HOUSE LOT AND THE HOUSES THAT WERE BUILT THEREON - THE PARISH FUND - ITS ORIGIN AND GROWTH back to index
October 27, 1719, the proprietors of Shrewsbury voted "that the meeting-house be on Rocky Plain, near the Pines, and if the said spot cannot be obtained on reasonable terms, that then the meeting-house be set on Meeting-House Hill," whereby it appears that the hill laid down on maps and known to this day as Meeting-house Hill was so called as early as two years and a half after the first comers were here Ñ doubtless because public opinion had designated this hill as the site of' the house of worship that was to be. It belonged to the proprietors Ñ which Rocky Plain did not Ñ and it was nearer to the centre of the township. Rocky Plain was part of Haynes' Farm and the portion of it which the proprietors wanted belonged to one of their number, William Taylor. Its name, Rocky Pine Plain, indicates the boulders and forest trees that the pioneers had to deal with. On the 4th of May, 1721, the very month when the first meeting-house in Shrewsbury was built, William Taylor conveyed to the proprietors, of whom he was one and retaining an equal right therein with any one single proprietor, fifteen acres of land situate on Rocky Plain and lying within the bounds of a farm purchased by him of one of the heirs of John Haynes, bounded westerly by land of John Balcom, northerly by land of Edward Goddard, southerly by the Squadron line and every other way by the remaining part: of said Taylor's own land. The squadron line here was the Connecticut Road, then so called. In making this conveyance Sergeant Taylor was actuated mainly by public spirit, though no doubt he expected advantages from having the meeting-house, which was sure to be the village centre, near where he had settled. On the 20th of May, sixteen days after his conveyance to them, the proprietors granted to him in satisfaction of his fifteen acres "5 acres and 24 rods of land on Pine Plain, westerly of Haynes' Farm the south side of the country road," remote from the centre and of trifling value Ñ a mere make-weight or nominal quid pro quo granted from some supposed legal necessity for a consideration. This fifteen acres, called "the common," beside the church site, the land around it and the graveyard, contained several other parcels, some of which were sold by the proprietors and some of which were appropriated without sale. The lot on which the Sumner houses lands, and which was the southwest corner of the original Common, was sold in 1754 to Artemas Ward, who afterward sold it to Dr. Joseph Sumner. The house where Mr. A. J. Gibbon lives, where formerly stood the old Crosby house, occupies the southeast corner. Both the Town House and the High School house are on the Taylor grant. Nor can any record of any conveyance or grant of the proprietors be found of the sites of these public buildings. The site of the Andrews house and the field in rear of it are entirely within the old Common limits, so also is a part of the site of the Jonas Stone house, but the sites of these two houses and the field were sold by the proprietors, as by their records appears. Under date May 13, 1766, the day of raising the second meeting-house of the First Parish, Dr. Sumner has a memorandum of the fact, accompanied with a note, that "The first meeting-house in Shrewsbury was Erected in ye mounth of May, 1721." The site of the first meeting-house, according to tradition, was a little northerly and easterly of where the present house now stands. Its dimensions, given in the proprietors' records, were "40 feet in length by 32 in breadth, 14 feet stud." And the proprietors voted, June 22, 1720, to lay an assessment of five pounds en each, Ñ aggregate of forty-two proprietors, two hundred and ten pounds. This house had neither steeple nor bell. The first sermon ever preached in Shrewsbury was by Rev. Robert Breck, of Marlborough, June 15, 1720, and the record of the meeting of the proprietors, when the assessment before referred to was voted, contains also the proprietors' vote to apply to Mr. Breck for the notes of his sermon, in order to have them printed For forty-five years (1721-66) the first meeting house served its original purpose, but during the last five years or more there had been a growing feeling that a new house of worship was needed. The town had grown, and, notwithstanding it had been divided into two parishes, the old house was too small. The building of the second meeting-house was long debated at town-meetings. Finally resolved upon, in the spring of 1766, it was commenced in earnest and speedily completed. It was not jobbed off to the lowest bidder, but built by a building committee, who employed Daniel Heminway, of Shrewsbury, the famous meeting-house builder, who built the Old South, in Worcester, and many other meeting-houses and public buildings, to frame it. The committee was instructed, by vote of the town, in employing labor and in purchase of materials, to give the preference to inhabitants of the town. All the carpenters of Shrewsbury worked upon the meeting house. All the lumber grew in Shrewsbury woods, and was sawn in Shrewsbury mills. All the nails were made by Shrewsbury blacksmiths. The record of a town meeting immediately preceding the meeting-house raising reveals the municipal estimate of the magnitude of the undertaking. The question whether the town would procure a ginn to raise the meeting house with was debated, and "determined in ye negative." But the committee were directed to procure a lot of new spike poles; also "voted that ye committy provide Drinks & Provisions," and "voted to commence the raising at six o'clock in the morning." And lest ye committee should mistake their instructions, and also probably to encourage a good attendance and make everybody stay till the last rafter was in place and the last pin driven home, it was further "voted to provide a Good Supper, and to send to Boston for a Barrel of Rhum." The new house was fifty-five feet in length by forty-three in breadth, and had entrances on the east and west ends and on the south side. Like its predecessor, it had neither steeple nor bell. If one take a lantern and go up into the attic and look at the enormous plates and roof- timbers, resting where they were raised by the new spike-poles one hundred and twenty-two years ago, he cannot but wonder how they were ever got there with the use of' no other machinery. The original site where the house was raised, and stood till 1834, was about fifty feet south of its present location, and its longest dimension was east and west. Many hands make quick work, and just two months after the raising Dr. Sumner says, "July 16, 1766, being Lord's day, we met ye first time in the New House, upon wh. occasion I Preached from Genesis 28 chapter & ye 17 verse." In 1807 the porch on the west end of the meeting house was replaced by a steeple with a belfry and dials for a clock. The bell, for which the money was raised by subscription, was not hung until next year. The clock was added still later. Why the steeple was built on the west end, thereby giving the building the appearance of facing Dr. Sumner's back-yard, it is difficult to say; but so it was and so it stood until 1834, when the house was swung quarter round so as to face the south and moved to its present site, raised up so as to construct a vestry underneath and remodeled. Its porches were taken off so as to conform, outside and inside, to the then prevailing style of church architecture. In 1801 Jonah Howe and eight others were incorporated as trustees of a fund for the support of a Congregational minister in the town of Shrewsbury, by an act of the General Court passed February 18th of that year. The act recites the former appropriation of certain securities and moneys, amounting to nine hundred and twenty dollars, by the town, and the recent subscription of $2,243 for support of the minister, limits the fund to a maximum of eight thousand dollars, the interest of which only is to be applied to the minister's salary, provides for an annual meeting of trustees in April, each year, to elect a treasurer and clerk and fill vacancies in trustees, and makes the trustees responsible to the town. If the interest should ever amount to more than enough to pay the salary of the minister, it was to be applied to the schools of the town. Dr. Sumner has left a memorandum that shows the origin of the fund: April, 1732. Ñ According to a vote of the Town of Shrewsbury, the hinder seats in the meeting house was taken up, and six pews built which sold for about £140, which is to remain as a fund, the interest of which to be appropriated for support of the Gospel. Sundry contributions have, from time to time, been made by different persons to this fund and the amount of it is now more than double the maximum prescribed in the original act. By chapter 50, Acts of 1866, its name was changed to a "Fund for the Support of a Congregational Minister in the First Congregational Parish and Religious Society in the Town of Shrewsbury," and the limitation of the original act to eight thousand dollars was raised to twenty thousand dollars and the trustees are made accountable to the parish, instead of the town. Jonathan H. Nelson, who died in 1872, gave this fund a legacy of five thousand dollars, the largest contribution given by any donor at any one time, but less than the aggregate sums given by Amasa Howe, who in his lifetime (1869) gave eighteen hundred dollars, and who, dying in 1883, was found by his will, made in 1872, to have given a legacy of twenty-two hundred dollars to this fund, and also by a codicil made in 1882 another legacy of two thousand dollars, making a total of six thousand dollars. And Thomas Rice, who died May 29, 1888, has left a legacy of one thousand dollars in trust with the trustees of this fund, one-half of the interest of which is to be applied by the trustees to the care of the testator's lot and monument in the cemetery, and the other half to be applied to the payment of the salary of the minister of the Congregational parish. I am unable to give the amounts of any other donations or the names of the donors. The present total of the fund is about eighteen thousand dollars and its income about nine hundred dollars.
THE FIRST PARISH AND ITS MINISTERS: CUSHING, SUMNER,INGERSOLL, WHIPPLE, GEORGE ALLEN, AVERELL, WILLIAMS, MCGINLEY, DYER, SCUDDER, FRANK H. ALLEN back to index
The three years within which Shrewsbury was required to have at least forty families and an orthodox minister began to run November 2, 1717. The forty families were here in due season, but the first minister, Rev. Job Cushing, was not settled till December 4, 1723, Ñ more than six years after the time began to run. It would seem from the church records that the church was organized and a covenant adopted at Mr. Cushing's ordination. Let us note in passing that this covenant does not contain any credo Ñ unless the following be regarded as such: "We resolve to make the blessed Scriptures our platform, whereby We may discern the blessed mind of Christ and not the new-framed inventions of men," Ñ a favorite form of words with those who did not wish either to commit themselves to dogmatic theology nor to repel others from uniting with them by an ironclad creed. This liberal covenant, probably drawn up by Mr. Cushing himself, closely resembles that of many of the early churches of New England, commencing with the earliest, whose platform, brought in the "Mayflower" and landed in 1620 on Plymouth Rock, remains unchanged in any clause or letter, the creed of the liberal First Church of Plymouth, to this day. It does not appear that at Mr. Cushing's ordination or afterwards any question was raised as to his being an "orthodox minister," within the meaning of those words in the act of the General Court, but tradition is that some of the brethren suspected him of favoring the Arminian heresy. During his ministry only one controversy arose of which any memory has reached our times. This was not theological. One Simon Goddard, who came to Shrewsbury in 1731, from Framingham, with the aid of his two brothers, who were here before him, and five or six others, whom he converted to his views, kept Mr. Cushing and the whole church in hot water for more than ten years about ruling elders. According to Brother Goddard, it was indispensable that every Christian church should have two elders to rule both it and the minister, and he wrote to Mr. Cushing and the church long letters about it and talked about it till one wonders at the long-suffering patience of pastor and people with such a crank and such a bore as he was. This contemptible controversy finally resulted in an ecclesiastical council, but what was the "result" of the council was unknown at the time and has never been discovered to this day. Rev. Job Cushing, whose father and grandfather were both named Matthew Cushing, and the latter of whom came from Norfolk, England, in 1688, was born at Hingham, July l9, 1694, and graduated at Harvard College in 1714. He was a farmer as well as minister, and at the moment of his death he was at work in his field binding sheaves of grain, where, without sickness or premonition, he fell dead. The minister's lot, No. 22, laid out on Meeting-house Hill when it was expected that the meeting house would be built there, being found after it was built on Rocky Plain too remote for the minister to live on, Mr. Cushing bought twenty acres and one hundred and fifteen rods of William Taylor, adjoining on the east side the meeting- house lot or Common, and built his house where Mr. Arunah Harlow now lives. Mr. Cushing also bought of Nahum Ward fifty six acres and seventy-one rods on the south side of the road opposite hit house. What with these purchases and his lot (No. 22), "made up the full of ninety acres," and second and third division lands received "in right of his lot" he became in time the owner of considerable real estate, which he cleared and tilled as well as any of the other original farmers of Shrewsbury. A portion of Mr. Cushing's land on both sides of the Great Road, together with a moiety of Jordan's Pond laid out to him as second division land "equal," say the records, "to six acres of valuable meadow," has descended to his great-grandson, Mr. Josiah G. Stone, and still remains in his possession. At the time of Mr. Cushing's settlement in Shrewsbury he was twenty-nine years old, and at his death, which occurred August 6, 1760, he was sixty-six. In the interval between the decease of Mr. Cushing and the settlement of his successor, the church covenant was reenforced by the addition of the Calvinistic tenets. After the words in the extract before given, "new-framed inventions of men," were added the following, "And yet we are of the judgment that the whole of the well-known Westminster Catechism as explained by Calvinistic divines, contains a just summary of Christian doctrine as revealed in God's Holy Word," and after the name of Christ was inserted the words, "whom we believe to be God, equal with the Father and the Holy Ghost." Among the minority who protested and voted against these additions to the fair original, as incongruous therewith as patch of sow's ear upon silk purse, I note the name of Colonel Job Cushing, true to the teachings of his sainted father. Before settling or even calling another minister, being jealous not only of ruling elders, but of the minister as well, the church voted not to settle any minister with power to negative its vote. At the same meeting when this vote was passed the church extended a call to Rev. Joseph Sumner as pastor, and his ordination took place June 23, 1762. For want of room in the old meeting-house, and because it was not considered safe to crowd the old house with a large audience, the ordination services were conducted in the open air on a platform erected on the Common. Rev. Joseph Sumner was born at Pomfret, Conn., June 30, 1740, being son of Deacon Samuel Sumner, of that town, and graduated at Yale College in 1759. The degree of D.D., was conferred on him by Harvard College in 1814, and shortly afterwards by Columbia College, S.C. Like his predecessor, he was a man of liberal views and tolerant practice, and if all the ministers of New England had been like them, no division of the churches on the basis of mere theological dogma would have ever taken place. During Dr. Sumner's time the Calvinistic additions to the covenant were erased by vote of the church Ñ doubtless through his influence. He was a man of great authority with his people, and of great personal dignity and weight of character. Of colossal stature Ñ six feet four inches in height Ñ he presented a most imposing presence. To the last he wore the costume of the last century: knee-breeches, silver buckles, cocked hat, white wig and all. A child was once so awe-stricken at sight of Dr. Sumner, as to run away and tell his mother that he had seen God. A characteristic story is told of him and Dr. Samuel Austin, of the First Worcester Parish. In a conversation at the house of the former, in Shrewsbury, where the latter had made a call, Dr. Sumner said, "I was brought up in the orthodox faith, and have always lived in it, and I expect to die in it." "But," said Dr. Austin, "you clipped off its corners." "Yes," was Dr. Sumner's reply, "and they need clipping more." Let me add another story characteristic of Dr. Austin as well as Dr. Sumner. At a meeting of the Worcester Ministerial Association Dr. Austin and Dr. Aaron Bancroft, pastors respectively of the First and Second Parishes in Worcester, were both proposed for membership. Dr. Austin having been admitted without objection, he vehemently opposed the admission of Dr. Bancroft, and a majority of the association voted against it, whereupon Dr. Sumner arose, and declaring that he would not belong to such an illiberal body, withdrew from the association, and it never met again. It was during Dr. Sumner's time that division of Congregational Churches into Trinitarian and Unitarian took place. In the last years of his ministry he had repeatedly suggested to his people the expediency of selecting a colleague pastor, and January 18, 1820, the church chose Rev. Samuel B. Ingersoll as colleague to Dr. Summer, and the parish concurring, the ordination took place June 14, 1820. This ordination being a sort of milestone in the history of the Congregational schism then in progress, I must give a brief account of it. Of the fifteen ministers who formed the ordaining council, five Ñ namely: Dr. Aaron Bancroft, of Worcester; Rev. John Miles, of Grafton; Rev. Ward Cotton, of Boylston; Dr. Joseph Allen, of Northborough; and Rev. William Nash, of West Boylston Ñ were Unitarians. At the examination of the candidate it appeared that he was a pronounced Calvinist. To his ordination on this account the Unitarian members of the council made no objection, but asked if he would fellowship with Unitarians. Mr. Ingersoll's reply was "I would not trust a Unitarian in my pulpit one hour." This was explicit enough for Dr. Bancroft, who arose and was followed by all the Unitarian members of the council, pastors and lay delegates, nine in number, down the long aisle out of the meeting-house. A majority of the council was still left, and the ordination proceeded. Such is the account of this ordination given to the writer nearly forty years ago by Dr. Eleazer T. Fitch, professor of divinity in Yale College, who was a member of the council. Mr. Ingersoll, after his ordination, preached but one Sunday, and died of consumption, November 14, 1820, at Beverly, where he was born in 1787. He graduated at Yale College in 1817, and was thirty years old at the time. He was at his death thirty-three. Before going to college he had been a sailor and shipwrecked at sea. It is said that as he lay floating and perishing on a piece of wreck in mid-ocean he heard a call to go and preach the gospel, and answered it with a solemn vow that if he were saved from perishing then he would obey the call. A funeral service was held simultaneously at Beverly and at Shrewsbury. "I preached and Dr. Bancroft and Mr. Cotton prayed." Such is Dr. Sumner's brief entry in the church records. I wonder if prayer or sermon contained any allusion to the drama played within the same walls only five months before. This ordination of Mr. Ingersoll was followed by important consequences both in Shrewsbury and elsewhere. In Shrewsbury, as we shall see later, a portion of the parish withdrew and formed a new society. Dr. Sumner was greatly annoyed at what had taken place. Doubtless he had hoped, by bringing together the clergy of the vicinity who were of opposing views, to do something towards healing the schism that was dividing and weakening the churches of New England. After Mr. Ingersoll's death Rev. Edwards Whipple was settled as a colleague to Dr. Sumner. He had previously been ordained and settled in Charlton, and dismissed at his own request. His installation took place September 20, 1821. He died September 17, 1822, of a fever after a sickness of only seven days, aged forty-four years. He was born in Westborough, November, 1778, graduated at Williams College in 1801, and studied his profession with the famous Dr. Nathaniel Emmons, of Franklin. Dr. Sumner continued in his ministry in Shrewsbury till his death, which occurred December 9, 1824, a period of more than sixty-two years, being at the time of his death nearly eighty five years old. His funeral sermon was preached by his life-long friend, Dr. Bancroft, pursuant to an understanding between them that whichever might die first, the other should preach his funeral sermon. But before Dr. Sumner's death still another colleague to him had been settled in Shrewsbury. Rev. George Allen was ordained here November 19, 1823. He was the son of Hon. Joseph Allen, born at Worcester, February 11, 1792, and graduated at Yale College in 1813. He remained in his pastorate at Shrewsbury till June 18, 1840, when he was dismissed by advice of an ecclesiastical council. For sixteen of the seventeen years of his life here Mr. Allen's relations with his church and parish were exceptionally pleasant and amicable. At his funeral said Rev. Dr. Buckingham, of Springfield, formerly settled in Millbury: "Years ago, when Mr. Allen was pastor of the church at Shrewsbury, we" (meaning the clergy of the vicinity) "remember to have thought that parsonage an ideal one. Looking off from that hill-top with his wife and children about him and a large and intelligent congregation listening to him, it seemed as if such love and influence and happiness ought to satisfy any mortal. They did satisfy him so long as he was permitted to enjoy them." But in the seventeenth year of his ministry there arose in Shrewsbury one of the most implacable minister quarrels in the history of New England. It had its origin in a scandal about Mr. Allen's family, of which want of space, if no other reason, would forbid detail here. Indignantly denying the truth of the scandalous stories in circulation, Mr. Allen in the pulpit and out of it castigated their circulators with a severity of language such as few men can equal and none ever exceeded, and his unsparing denunciations of all who had talked about his family, which included probably the entire inhabitants of the town, had the effect to estrange many of his warmest friends and to cause them to become disaffected. In a few months the disaffected party grew, so as to number full one-half the parish, "signed off," hired a preacher and a hall and had religious services on Sundays by themselves. It was a bitter feud, causing enmity between old friends and near neighbors, and finally resulted in an ecclesiastical council, before which the opposition to Mr. Allen, under leadership of Mr. Henry Dana Ward, laid charges against him. The council fully vindicated Mr. Allen from all intentional wrong and recommended him to the confidence of the churches; but, on account of the widespread disaffection which had impaired, if not entirely destroyed, his usefulness in Shrewsbury, they advised his dismissal with payment of full salary for the current year. These proceedings were directly followed by a slander suit brought by Mr. Allen against Mr. Ward. At the trial of this suit in the Supreme Court at Worcester, April term, 1841, the town of Shrewsbury turned out and packed the court-house. Nor was interest limited to the town. No trial at Worcester, for years, had excited such general interest. Verdict for plaintiff, damages $700; which, at the time, was regarded as heavy and exemplary. Rev. George Allen was unquestionably the ablest man whom Shrewsbury can boast to have ever had for a citizen. After his dismissal he returned to Worcester and lived there till his death, which occurred March 31, 1883. His age was ninety-one years. He had long survived his wife and children, of whom he once had four, two of whom had died within a year and a half before his dismissal at Shrewsbury, and one of whom was the subject of the scandal before referred to. For about thirty years Mr. Allen was chaplain of the State Lunatic hospital at Worcester. A man of great learning and accurate scholarship, and holding the pen of a ready writer, he became in Worcester a public and influential man. He was interested in and performed efficient service in all the reformatory movements of the times. In the anti-Masonic movement which followed the murder of Morgan in Western New York, where he preached a few years before he came to Shrewsbury, he took an active and prominent part. He was one of the earliest and most pronounced anti-slavery men, and on formation of the Free-Soil party in 1848 he gave valuable aid to his brother, who, more than any other man, must be regarded as founder of that party. Though maintaining his connection from first to last with the Orthodox Congregational Church, he was a man of extremely liberal views, and had the honor to have his orthodoxy challenged many times in his life. Before settlement in Shrewsbury he was rejected by an ordaining council at Aurora, N.Y., where he had received a call, for "unsoundness on original sin. All his life he publicly repudiated the Westminster Catechism, and in 1865 at Plymouth, where the National Council of his denomination met, in eloquent words he solemnly protested against its reaffirmation as being too sectarian for the catholic spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers, over whose ashes they had met, and too narrow to comprehend the breadth of their principles of religious freedom. Mr. Allen's successor in the ministry at Shrewsbury was Rev. James Averill, who was born at Griswold, Conn., May 29, 1815. He graduated at Amherst College in the class of 1837, studied his profession at the Yale Theological School and was ordained over the church and parish in Shrewsbury, June 22, 1841. He was dismissed at his own request November 15, 1848. Mr. Averill died in 1863 in the service of his country, chaplain of a Connecticut regiment. Rev. Nathan Witter Williams was the successor of Mr. Averill. He was the son of Rev. Joseph Williams, and born at Providence, R.I., March 12, 1816; graduated at Yale College in 1842; studied theology with Rev. Albert Barrens, of Philadelphia; was ordained at Shrewsbury, February 28, 1849, and dismissed at his own request April 27, 1858. After Mr. Williams' dismissal he was elected Representative from Shrewsbury to the General Court and served as a member of that body in the session of 1859. The next minister of the Congregational Church and Parish in Shrewsbury was Rev. William A. McKinley, who was ordained June 2, 1859, and dismissed by his request July 27, 1865. He was an accomplished scholar and eloquent preacher. He had originally selected the law for his profession and had read a year or more for admission to the bar before he studied divinity. He is now settled in Portsmouth, N.H. Rev. Ebenezer Porter Dyer was the successor of Mr. McGinley. He was born at Abington, August 15, 1813, graduated at Brown University in the class of 1833, studied divinity at Andover and was first settled and ordained at Stowe, where he began preaching in 1835, and where he remained till 1846. Installed at Hingham in 1848, he remained there till 1864. He was again installed here November 7, 1867, and resigned his pastorate June 19, 1877. Beginning at Stowe in his youth, afterwards at several other places, Boston, Winter Hill, Somerville and elsewhere, he performed missionary labor, founding, it is said, by his direct efforts, three churches, and indirectly causing to be founded three others. He was author of several books, among others a metrical version of "Pilgrim's Progress," published by Lee & Shepard, Boston, in 1869, while he was in Shrewsbury. He died at Abington, August 22, 1883, aged seventy years. Rev. John L. Scudder, who succeeded Mr. Dyer, was born in 1855, in India, where his father, Dr. Scudder was a missionary of the American Board. He graduated at Yale College in 1874, and pursued his professional studies at Union Theological Seminary. Ordained here December 26, 1877, he remained till March, 1882, when he requested a dismissal and went to accept a call to Minneapolis. He is now settled at Jersey City. The successor of Mr. Scudder was Rev. Frank H. Allen, a graduate of Amherst College in the class of 1874, and a classmate of his predecessor at Union Theological Seminary. He was ordained here October 25, 1882, and resigned his office as pastor August 23, 1888, to accept a call to Milwaukee.
THE SECOND PARISH - THE BAPTIST, UNIVERSALIST AND METHODIST SOCIETIES - THE ROMAN CATHOLICS back to index
From December 17, 1742, to November 1, 1786, there were two parishes in Shrewsbury, and the separate history of both is part of the history of the town. Both were territorial, and included all the inhabitants, Ñ nolentes volentes. The South or First Parish was identical with the present town of Shrewsbury. The North or Second Parish included most of Boylston and West Boylston and all of the original town not within the limits of the South. The church in the North Parish was organized October 6, 1743, Rev. Job Cushing and his deacons going over to "assist ye Brethren in the north part to gather a church." A meeting-house was built, and Rev. Ebenezer Morse was ordained in the same month (October) of the same year. The house was of the crudest and cheapest pattern, and at the ordination had neither floor, door nor window. It was completed later by voluntary contributions of labor and materials, and the interior being apportioned off into spaces for pews, each one built him a pew to suit himself. Mr. Morse was a man of varied learning and superior capacity, graduate of Harvard College 1737, and master of all the learned professions, Ñ law and medicine as well as divinity. He was a native of Medfield, born March 2, 1718, and twenty-five years old at his settlement in Shrewsbury. The relations of pastor and people appear to have been mutually satisfactory till the popular dissatisfaction about taxation of the Colonies, in which Mr. Morse did not participate, being a pronounced loyalist from first to last. The trouble between him and his parish began in 1770, and culminated in 1775. Of the action of the town in regard to Mr. Morse, an account will be given elsewhere. The parish, June 12, 1775, voted (thirty-seven yeas to twelve nays) "to dissolve the pastoral office of Rev. Ebenezer Morse." November 10, 1775, six ministers, being present attending a day of fasting and prayer, recommended dismissal of Mr. Morse, and the parish voted to dismiss him "agreeably to ye advice of the council." Of course, these proceedings were iregular and revolutionary; but they were sustained by an irresistible public opinion, and Mr. Morse submitted under protest. He continued to live in the Second Parish and in the town of Boylston after it was incorporated as such to the end of his life, making a livelihood practicing medicine and fitting boys for college. It has been said derisively of Mr. Morse that he continued to style himself "settled minister of God's word in Boylston" as long as he lived, and often so signed marriage certificates. But nothing is clearer than that, according to law and congregational theory, he had a right to so style himself and so sign his name. In 1775 the parish appointed a committee "to notify Mr. Morse of his dismissal and to see that he do not enter the desk any more." He died at Boylston in 1802, aged eighty-three years. Before incorporation of the Second Parish as the town of Boylston, two other ministers were called in that parish, Ñ Rev. Jesse Reed and Rev. Eleazer Fairbank, and the latter was settled there March 27 1777. He was born in Preston, Conn., graduated at Brown University, and was dismissed at Boylston at his own request, April 22, 1793; afterwards settled at Wilmington, Vt., and again dismissed. He removed to Palmyra, N.Y., where he died in 1821. The founder of the Baptist Society in Shrewsbury was Luther Goddard, grandson of Edward, the proprietor. Simon Goddard, who so troubled the peace of good Mr. Cushing about ruling elders, was a brother of Edward and so great uncle of Luther. The latter, called captain from his rank in the militia, later in life called also Elder Goddard, from his powerful gift as a Baptist exhorter, was by trade a watchmaker and carried on his trade with thrift and profit, first at Shrewsbury and later at Worcester. I mention his kinship to Simon on account of his marked resemblance to him. What with speaking in meeting and endless letter-writing, Simon had kept church and pastor in hot water upwards of ten years, and now fifty years afterwards Mr. Cushing's successor hath a like trouble. Captain Luther also can speak in meeting, likewise he can write letters, and he did both. He could not find in the blessed Scriptures either precept or example for baptism of infants, and he talked about it in meeting and out of meeting, and wrote long letters to the church and pastor about its subscribing himself "your poor unworthy Brother, L. Goddard." This began before, and reached a climax in 1808, when Capt. Goddard was baptized by immersion and organized himself into a Baptist Church. He even requested by letter Dr. Sumner to allow him the use of his meeting-house for such organizing, &c. Mild Dr. Sumner's reply, lately printed, is the most remarkable instance of mildness on record, and is witty as well as mild. He could not see the necessity or propriety in the use of the meeting-house when there was no place within two miles where baptism by immersion could be administered. After his baptism Capt. Goddard wrote another letter to Joseph Sumner, pastor, wishing him "to pointe out some way for him to leave the church in this town and joyn to another of a different denomination." And shortly afterwards he wrote another letter of great length to the church, to which the church by a committee replied that Mr. Goddard's connection with it was dissolved by his own act. From this time Elder Goddard preached in Shrewsbury and elsewhere as occasion offered. In 1813 a society of thirty-three members, called the Shrewsbury and Boylston Baptist Society, was formally organized, and the next year built a house of God. And there Elder Goddard often exercised his gifts, but no regular preacher was employed till 1818, when Rev. Elias McGregory was ordained over the church and society, and remained its minister till 1821, after which no other was ever regularly settled over it. Rev. Samuel W. Vilas was hired to supply the Baptist pulpit, and did so for about two years, when July 15, 1823, he died. About this time Elder Goddard removed to Worcester, and the Boylston Baptists withdrew and organized a society of their own. The Shrewsbury Baptists, however, kept up their organization and continued to hold services at their house for several years with more or less regularity, but had no regular minister. The Baptist clergy of the vicinity, who regarded the church here as a sort of missionary outpost in the midst of the gentiles, frequently came here and preached. This continued till 1835, when the church and society were formally dissolved. The Baptist house of worship is still standing, though so altered as to be no longer recognizable. It stands where it was built, on the Worcester Road, and is now owned and occupied by Mr. George G. Dowe as a dwelling-house. I have before referred to the ordination of Rev. Samuel B. Ingersoll as a milestone in the history of the Congregational schism. And now we run against this stone again. April 11, 1821, a religious society was formed in Shrewsbury under the name of the First Restoration Society. One of the main factors that contributed to the formation of this society was the avowal of extreme Calvinistic opinions by Mr. Ingersoll, and his refusal to exchange with the neighboring clergy of more liberal views. Among the solid men who formed this society were the Knowltons, Dr. Seth and his brothers, Asa and Joseph Hastings, who were sons of Deacon William, and grandsons of Deacon Ezekiel Knowlton, and had been brought up on the Westminster Catechism. Dr. Knowlton was chairman of most committees and boards of officers of the new society during his life. Full one-half of the members of this society were residents of other towns. Universalist Society in Worcester was not formed till twenty years later, and the Shrewsbury society had among its members several strong men from Worcester, among others Mr. Joseph Pratt and Mr. David Sargent, the latter of whom was one of the deacons of the Restoration Church. The other deacon was Joseph H. Knowlton, before named. There were also several members who lived in Sutton, more still who lived in Grafton, and a few who lived in Boylston. The first business committee of the society were Dr. Seth Knowlton, Captain Thomas Harrington, Sr., Gershom Flagg, Allen, Jr., Lyman Howe and John Richardson. The church building was located at the junction of the Grafton Road with the Worcester Turnpike, as a central point of a rather scattered parish. This society was organized under the statute of 1811, which guaranteed most of the advantages of incorporation to societies so organized, and made them, as was afterwards held by the Supreme Court, quasi corporations. The house of worship, begun in 1822, was completed and publicly dedicated to "Our Father which is in Heaven," June 17, 1823, at which time also was installed Rev. Jacob Wood, who served a minister of this society till 1829. For the next ten years there was no settled minister. Rev. Thomas J. Greenwood, who was settled in Marlborough, for about three years supplied the pulpit here on alternate Sundays, preaching also in his own pulpit in a similar way. During this period, 1829-39, several other ministers, for longer or shorter terms, were employed, but I have not been able to ascertain even their names. In the spring of 1839 Rev. Jacob Baker was ordained over this society, and preached regularly for three years. After 1843 the society had no settled minister nor regular preaching. There were, however, occasional services in the church till about 1864. In 1868 the few surviving members met and voted to sell their house and dissolve the society. If organization of the First Restoration Society had been delayed till after the death of Mr. Ingersoll, it probably would never have been organized at all, and if Dr. Knowlton and others, who withdrew from the Congregational Society, had remained in it, there can be little doubt that that society would have taken the Unitarian instead of Trinitarian side of the schism that was then taking place. The fate of the First Restoration Society in Shrewsbury is substantially the same as that of all the other Universalist Societies of the smaller towns. The one idea of the Universalists, seemingly an inadequate foundation for a separate denomination, has unquestionably permeated and leavened the whole lump of religious thought of the present age, and though in Shrewsbury and elsewhere the dogma of wretched doom for all but an elect few of our race may still linger in creeds, not even heathen congregations will tolerate its preaching. When the American missionary for whose outfit Shrewsbury Christians have contributed goes to far India's coral strand to bear the lamp of life to men benighted, he has to graft the infernal tenet of his written creed with the scion of future probation Ñ a version of restoration heresy taken from Buddha himself. And straightway all Andover takes up the cudgels to champion the Light of Asia. Shade of John Calvin! methinks the smell of a burning Andover professor would be scarcely less grateful to thy nostrils than was that of Servetus himself. In the spring of 1845 a Methodist preacher and temperance lecturer, held some religious meetings, interspersed with a temperance lecture or two, at School-house No. 5, in the western part of Shrewsbury, which were attended by Alonzo Stiles and Amasa Hyde, both members of the Congregational Church in Shrewsbury. Mr. Hyde, who lived to be known to the younger as well as the older of the three generations of living men, has recently died, at an advanced age. He was an excellent man and a leading member of the Methodist Church for many years. Mr. Stiles died nearly forty years ago while crossing the Isthmus of Panama on his way to California. He had formerly been an intemperate man and was at variance with the church of which he was a member on the score of temperance. He objected to and remonstrated against the use of intoxicating liquors in the communion service because it excited his appetite and tempted him to return to his former habit of intemperance. It was a common zeal for temperance that first brought Mr. Stiles in contact with the preacher and lecturer aforesaid Ñ whose name I am unable to give Ñ which contact resulted in the school-house meetings, where a Methodist class was formed, of which Mr. Stiles and Mr. Hyde were both members. Then and there was planted the grain of' mustard seed out of which grew the fair tree of Methodism in Shrewsbury. In the fall of the same year came from Holliston Rev. Gardner Rice, a Methodist clergyman, to teach a high school in Shrewsbury. He was a graduate of Wesleyan University, and taught school in Shrewsbury for many years, and more than one generation of children bless the memory of Master Rice. Directly on coming to town Mr. Rice took charge of the Methodist movement, which before had lacked guiding and organizing leadership, and preached Sundays in a hall in the Haven tavern, which stood where the Town House now stands; in the spring of 1846 the Methodist Society was formally organized and connected with the Worcester Conference, and Rev. John W. Wheeler came to Shrewsbury under a regular assignment to duty here according to Methodist usage, and held services Sundays at the tavern hall till completion of the Methodist house of worship. The building of this house was said by an irreverent jester to have been the greatest instance of something made out of' nothing since the Creator made the world. Neither jester nor laugher at his jest knew the history of the Methodist Church. True it was, none of the origins Methodists in Shrewsbury were rich men, nor had a single one of them any visible treasure laid up where moth and rust doth corrupt. But what the Methodists did in Shrewsbury is only a single instance of what the denomination has done all over the United States. Everywhere it has organized its churches and built its houses of worship in very literal imitation of the way the Creator is commonly supposed to have made the world. It was during building of the Methodist Church (1847-48) or immediately afterwards that Rev. Jefferson Hascall, presiding elder over the Worcester Conference, whose discerning eye saw a field here white for the harvest, moved into town and thrust in his sickle. Under his labors there was a great revival of religion, and over one hundred persons professed conversion. Mr. Hascall was born in Thompson, Ct., November 6, 1807, and died at Medford November 6, 1887. He graduated at Wilbraham Academy about 1829 and immediately entered upon the ministry. He lived in Shrewsbury about twenty years in all, and most of the time was in the presiding eldership. He was a man of' great ability, energy and influence, a powerful preacher of his faith and a public-spirited citizen of the town. Interested in and favoring education and all public improvements, and an earnest advocate of a vigorous prosecution of the war to suppress the slave holders' rebellion, he was universally respected and beloved by the people of the town. I should be glad to add here some brief separate mention of each of the Methodist pastors who have ministered to the church in Shrewsbury, and regret my inability to do so. According to the itinerant usage of the denomination, only ministering here for two years or less each, they have come and gone, and after considerable unsatisfactory inquiry I reluctantly abandon my purpose to notice them separately and merely subjoin a list of their names with times of service: Rev. D. K. Banister 1848-49, '57-58 Rev. Jefferson Hascall 1871 Rev. David Shuman 1850-51 Rev. Edwin Chase 1872 Rev. Wm R. Bagnall 1852-53 Rev. A Caldwell 1873-74 Rev. Wm Gordon 1854-56 Rev. S. H. Noon 1875 Rev. H. P. Satchwell 1859-60 Rev. W. M. Hubbard 1876-78 Rev. Wm W. Coburn 1861-62 Rev. A. W. Adams 1879 Rev. Joseph W. Lewis 1863-74 Rev. W. Wignall 1880-81 Rev. Chas T. Johnson 1865-66 Rev. W. S. Jaggar 1882-84 Rev. John Peterson 1867-68 Rev. F. T. George 1885-86 Rev. Wm Merrill 1869-70 Rev. F. B. Graves 1887 Rev. O. C. Poland 1888 January 16, 1872, Catholics of Shrewsbury bought three-eighths of an acre of land for three hundred and fifty dollars and built a church thereon. The deed of this parcel of land runs "to Patrick T. O'Reilly, of Springfield, To Have and To Hold the same to him, the said O'Reilly, his heirs and assigns, to their own use and behoof' forever." Patrick T. O'Reilly, of Springfield, is a Right Reverend Bishop of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and his diocese includes the town of Shrewsbury. Nor does his tenure of' the church property in this town differ at all from that of all other property of the Catholic Church in his diocese. He is tenant in fee simple of it all. The local (?) pastor of the Catholic flock here, as well as the Right Reverend Bishop, is a non-resident of this town. If the reader be not content with this history of the Catholic Church in Shrewsbury, and shall attempt to pursue it farther, I hope he may be more successful in his inquiries than I have been.
THE FRENCH WARS THE REVOLUTION THE WAR OF 1812 AND THE MEXICAN WAR back to index
Of the two wars between England and France for possession of Canada (1744-63) the first was called by our fathers the Old War and the second the Last War. Only very meager materials exist for showing the part taken by the people of Shrewsbury in these wars. That Artemas Ward, as lieutenant-colonel, Marshall Newton, as lieutenant, Nathan Howe, as ensign, and Dr. Edward Flint, as surgeon, all of Shrewsbury, served in expeditions to Canada in the last war is well known, but this implies much more. If there were officers to command there were soldiers to follow and obey. Doubtless from Shrewsbury there accompanied these officers the number of non-commissioned officers and privates appropriate to their rank. Colonel William Williams, whose diary and letters are quoted by Parkman, was commander of the regiment in which Lieutenant-Colonel Ward and Lieutenant Newton served. This regiment was in the disastrous campaign of the incompetent Abercrombie against Ticonderoga. Published extracts of a journal kept by Lieutenant-Colonel Ward fully bear out all that has ever been said or written of the disorder of the march, the lack of discipline of the army, the confusion of the battle and the folly of the retreat. Dr. Edward Flint was chief chirurgeon of the regiment of Colonel Timothy Ruggles, which served in the expedition of 1758 against Crown Point. Ensign Nathan Howe, who was a brother-in-law of Dr. Flint, served in the campaign of 1756 at Lake George, and with his regiment assisted in building the ill-fated Fort William Henry, which the brave Lieutenant Colonel Monro, a Scotch veteran, was forced to surrender to the French, who, after the surrender, abandoned their prisoners to be pillaged, tortured, murdered and eaten by their Indian allies. John Wheeler, of Shrewsbury, who was one of the prisoners, survived the massacre and returned home. Ensign Howe had been sent home before the siege and capture with a detachment of sick and wounded men. The town records of Shrewsbury show that the town granted him £5 16s. 9.5d. on account of his sickness. At the same time, and for like cause, to William Howe, brother of Ensign Nathan, an allowance was made by the town of £6 6d.; also to Ephraim Smith, on account of the sickness of his son Aaron, £3 4s. 4d., and to widow Sarah Smith for medical attendance of her late husband, Joshua Smith, upon sundry sick soldiers, £1 14s. 8d. Caleb Parker, a youthful soldier from this town, of only sixteen years, was killed in this campaign. One soldier at least from Shrewsbury went on the romantic expedition in the old war against the Fortress of Louisburg, on Cape Breton Island, built by the grand monarch of France to commemorate his grandeur in America, as well as to guard one of the avenues to New France, besieged and taken in forty-nine days by raw levies of New England fishermen and farmers, under command of General William Pepperell, a Piscataqua trader, who had never had before the least experience in war Ñ one of the most amazing exploits in all the annals of time. From the volunteering of the soldiers to surrender of the fortress the campaign has all "the cloud and glamour of romance," and was called a crusade. While Governor Shirley was mustering his battalions like another Peter the Hermit, the eloquent Whitefield went up and down the land preaching the Holy War. Nil desperandum, Christo duce. The heart of New England took fire and sent the flower of its youth, only sons not excepted, to assault the Dunkirk of America, garrisoned by the veterans of France. Away with the crusaders went Jonah Taylor, of Shrewsbury, only son of his father, William, and his mother, Elizabeth, only brother of nine sisters, and fell mortally wounded in the first assault upon the King's Bastion. He died on Cape Breton September 23, 1745. The first overt act of Shrewsbury in the Revolutionary War was to send delegates to the first Provincial Congress, holden at Concord October 11, 1774. Artemas Ward had been chosen Representative from Shrewsbury to the General Court, which Governor Gage had ordered to meet at Salem October 5th. The Governor countermanded his order, but the Representatives met at Salem all the same and adjourned to Concord. Phineas Heywood was chosen by Shrewsbury as a delegate to go with the Representative-elect to the Congress at Concord. The recommendations of this Congress to the towns were forthwith carried into effect by the inhabitants of Shrewsbury. 1. They organized three companies of militia, one in the North Parish, Captain Asa Beaman, and two in the South Parish, Captain Job Cushing and Captain Asa Brigham. 2. They voted not to pay taxes to Mr. Treasurer Harrison Gray, but to Henry Gardner, of Stow, whom Congress had designated as its new Receiver-General. 3. They adopted the nonconsumption agreement as to India teas and appointed an inspection committee of fifteen, five to be a quorum, whose duty it was to be to find out all such persons as sell or consume so extravagant and unnecessary an article of luxury and post their names in some public place. The town also chose a committee of five to examine Rev. Ebenezer Morse, minister of the Second Parish, William Crawford and three others, all members of that parish, "as being suspected of Toryism." At an adjourned meeting the committee reported favorably as to the three others, but as to Rev. Ebenezer Morse, they said it appeared to them that he was not so friendly to the common cause as they could wish, and as to William Crawford, it appeared to the committee that he was wholly unfriendly and inclined rather to take up arms for the King. Mr. Morse came before the town to answer for himself. He had prayed with much fervor in his pulpit for the King and royal family, and this was well known before to all the town. He now, in open town-meeting, declared himself a loyalist and reproved his fellow townsmen for disloyalty. The town thereupon directed the committee to take away the arms, ammunition and warlike implements of both Mr. Morse and Crawford, and voted that said Morse do not pass over the lines of the Second Parish on any occasion whatever without a permit, and that said Crawford remain within the bounds of his own land except on Sabbath-days, and then not go out of his parish without a permit. There is nothing in the town records, nor has anything come down to one time by tradition to indicate that any other inhabitants of Shrewsbury were ever "suspected of Toryism," and it was doubtless due to Rev. Ebenezer Morse, of the Second Parish, who was a strong man and had previously possessed the entire confidence of his people, that there was any opposition in any part of the town to the prevailing spirit of resistance to the British Crown. In the time of the Revolution, regiments in Massachusetts were territorial - so many towns to a regiment. The county of Worcester was divided into seven regiments, and Shrewsbury, Grafton, Northborough, Westborough and Southborough were the Sixth Worcester Regiment, Jonathan Ward, of Southborough, colonel. Artemas Ward, of Shrewsbury, formerly colonel of this regiment, was elected by the first Provincial Congress, of which he was a member, with two others, to organize and command the militia, and the next Congress issued to him a commission as commander-in-chief of all the forces of Massachusetts and the other colonies, and shortly afterwards he was appointed by the Continental Congress major general and commander-in-chief. Meantime the war had begun, and Captain Job Cushing, of Shrewsbury, had marched with his company to Lexington. About ten o'clock in the forenoon of April 19, 1775, passed like a flash through Shrewsbury a white horse, bloody with spurring and dripping with sweat, bearing a post-rider shouting as he rode: "To arms! to arms! the war has begun!" I have often heard my grandfather, Nathan Howe, the younger of that name, tell the story. He was then a boy fourteen years old, at work in the field with his father plowing, the team being a pair of oxen and a horse. His father, Ensign Howe, of the last war, now lieutenant of Captain Cushing's company, immediately detached from the team and mounted his horse and set off to rally the company. There was hurrying to and fro and mounting in hot haste. The younger Nathan wanted dreadfully to go, too, and cried because his father would not let him. Of course the company, like many others as remote, did not arrive in time to take part in the fight. Immediately after the Lexington alarm the principal occupation of able-bodied men in the province of Massachusetts Bay was organizing and drilling, and before the battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, a large body of troops was at Cambridge, under command of General Artemas Ward, of Shrewsbury. Captain Ezra Beaman and Captain Job Cushing, with their companies from Shrewsbury, were both there. Who commanded at Bunker Hill? There was General Artemas Ward over at Cambridge, commander-in-chief Ñ such was his sonorous title Ñ but this was before his commission by the Continental Congress, and all his authority was subordinate to that of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, nine in number, who occupied the same headquarters with him and "planned the battle." And there was Putnam, and Prescott, and Warren, and Pomeroy and Stark, each fighting the British on his own hook, and with very little regard to what others were doing. Plainly there was nobody in command Ñ in the sense of giving direction to the battle as a whole Ñ that is, to compare small things with large, as Meade and Lee commanded their respective forces at Gettysburg. If only there had been somebody in command Ñ some competent body Ñ who had ordered over from Cambridge Captain Beaman and Captain Cushing, with their companies, and put them where they could do the most good, the author of this history might have had something to say about the men of Shrewsbury at Bunker Hill. The reason why reinforcements were not sent over from Cambridge is not far to seek. The Committee of Safety made a mistake in supposing the attack of the British at Charlestown was a mere feint, and held fast where they were, expecting that the real attack would be directly made at Cambridge. In his "History of Shrewsbury" Mr. Andrew H. Ward Ñ evidently in defense of his ancestor from criticism Ñ gives a prolix and not very satisfactory explanation, of which the substance seems to be that General Ward's order-book shows that Colonel Jonathan Ward, with his regiment, was sent over by way of Lechmere's Point to Charlestown during the battle. For some reason it never reached its destination. Captain Aaron Smith, of Shrewsbury, whom we met in the last war returning home sick from Crown Point, whom also we shall shortly meet again, and who, on the 17th of June, 1775, was a private in Captain Cushing's company, and ran away without orders from Cambridge over to Charlestown, and alone, of all the Shrewsbury men, actually fought at Bunker Hill, fighting on his own hook, as every body else did, is given as authority for the statement that Colonel Ward, on his march, was met and halted by Dr. Benjamin Church, a member of the Committee of Safety, who afterwards turned out to be a traitor. General Washington arrived at Cambridge July 2, 1775, having been promoted over General Ward, and took command of the American army Ñ about twenty thousand men. General Ward continued in the service as a subaltern under Washington till the evacuation of Boston by the British, May 17, 1776, when he resigned. The position of the British in Boston had become untenable by Washington's occupation of Dorchester Heights. Here Nathan Howe, of Shrewsbury, commanding a company, performed a service of great value, of great hardship also, working nights and in the cold rains of the spring months of 1776, throwing up fortifications on the heights, and contracted a severe cold that gradually developed into pulmonary disease and finally resulted in his death. In the latter part of the year 1777 he came home to die, but directly sent his son and namesake, then sixteen years old, to serve as a private in his regiment. The cause of General Artemas Ward's resignation was a painful disorder, which rendered all active exercise, particularly horseback-riding, an excruciating torture. At the request of Washington, who, after The evacuation of Boston by the British, went with the greater part of the army to New York, General Ward remained in command of the Eastern Department till December 31, 1777, when his resignation was accepted by Congress. Notwithstanding the superhuman pinnacle now occupied by Washington in public esteem, certain it is that in his life-time he was quite human and not at all reticent in his correspondence of unworthy reflections upon the personal courage of the officer over whom, for reasons of public policy, he had been promoted, and between whom and himself he was obviously conscious of popular comparison. Some time afterwards, when Washington was President and Ward was a member of Congress, then sitting in New York, the latter having obtained one of Washington's letters containing offensive allusions to him, proceeded to the President's house and asked him if he was the author of the letter. Washington looked at it for some time without making any reply. While he was still looking at it, Ward impatiently said, "I should think the man that was base enough to write that would be base enough to deny it," and abruptly turning on his heel, left the house. Job Cushing, of Shrewsbury, was promoted from rank to rank in the sixth Regiment till he became its colonel. This regiment was from time to time recruited partly from the towns where it was originally formed and partly elsewhere. I think most of the Shrewsbury soldiers served in this regiment. After the success of Burgoyne at Ticonderoga public alarm was at the highest pitch, and Colonel Cushing went with his regiment to reinforce General Schuyler and took part in the battles of Bennington, August 16th, and Saratoga, October 16, 1777, when Burgoyne surrendered to General Gates, who had superseded General Schuyler in command. Ezra Beaman, of Shrewsbury, was also present at Burgoyne's surrender (but in what rank I am unable to say), and probably also at Bennington. Colonel Job Cushing, of Shrewsbury, and his regiment were a part of the body of troops that General Benedict Arnold undertook to betray to Sir Henry Clinton at West Point. The materials for giving details of the service of Shrewsbury men in the Revolutionary War are as meager as for the French Wars. Before the Government gave pensions, besides the many who had died or been killed in the service, many more had doubtless died in the course of nature. A list of pensioners, prepared by Nathan Howe, who for many years acted as agent for his comrades in the army in obtaining pensions, contains exactly forty names. Of course, it is a mere remnant of the whole number who were in the Continental service from Shrewsbury. In the time of President Madison, when occurred the War of 1812, a large majority of the people of Shrewsbury were of the Federal party, and wholly disapproved of the war, and I cannot find that the town or any citizen thereof in any manner participated therein. And the Mexican War was generally considered morally wrong by the people of the town always very radical in their opposition to slavery. Not a single citizen of Shrewsbury volunteered to go to Mexico, and I think the views of Mr. Hosea Biglow as to the Mexican War and its recruiting service, then newly printed for him in the Boston Courier, were exactly coincident with those of the whole town.
SHOWING THE PART WHICH SHREWSBURY TOOK IN SHAYS REBELION back to index
Daniel Shays had a strong following in Shrewsbury Ñ in numbers. The regulators, as the Shays' men were called, controlled the action of the town with irresistible majorities; but its two most eminent citizens, Gen. Artemas Ward and Col. Job Cushing, were conspicuous by pronounced opposition, and had entered on the town-records, where one may read it to day, their protest against the insurrectionary proceedings of the town adopted at a town-meeting in 1786. Wisdom may have been with the minority, but the men who took up arms with Shays were not unprincipled and abandoned wretches of the criminal class, and it was not for nothing that they took up arms. Shays himself, as well as Ward and Cushing, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and so also were every one of his captains, so far as I have been able to ascertain. Adam Wheeler, of Hubbardston, who in Shays' absence acted in this county as commander of the regulators, was a captain of the Continental Line and deacon of the Congregational Church in Hubbardston. He was born in Shrewsbury and was the great-great- grandson of the famous Captain Thomas Wheeler, of the Indian fight at Brookfield in 1675, and the great-grandson of Thomas Wheeler, the younger, also a hero of the same fight, who, himself severely wounded there, rescued his more severely wounded father from the Indians, who were about to dispatch him, threw him upon the horse of the slain Shadrach Hapgood, and with his father escaped by flight. Captain Wheeler, of the Shays' Rebellion, was also on his mother's side a great-grandson of the slain Shadrach, four of whose descendants settled in Shrewsbury. The leader of the Shrewsbury regulators was a brother-in-law of Wheeler, having married his sister, and a veteran whom we first met as a boy serving his apprenticeship as a soldier in the French War, and who fought for the independence of his country from Lexington to Yorktown Ñ Captain Aaron Smith, and the company which he raised for Shays in Shrewsbury were his former companions-in-arms. They were the identical men who rallied to Lexington and Bunker Hill, Bennington and Saratoga. Their purpose was not to overthrow the government, but merely to restrain the courts temporarily from entering up judgments and issuing executions. The people of Shrewsbury were very poor. They had spent their little all for country. Acting under the advice of Governor Bowdoin and influenced by speculating Boston lobbyists, the General Court had laid an enormous lax with a view to pay off the public debt. Most of the public creditors were holders of state securities or soldiers' certificates purchased at less than twelve percent of their face value. Claims against the bankrupt citizens of the town were in the hands of lawyers and deputy-sheriffs, who held them under contracts for large percentages if collected. In the year 1784 and 1785 about four thousand suits were entered in the courts at Worcester. Lawyers' offices were thronged with suitors, and the neighborhood of them presented the appearance of a public fair. Real and personal property was sold on execution at ruinous prices, nobody having money to buy with at sales. And the jails were crowded with debtors. Only twelve years before exactly the same thing had been done at Worcester Ñ with universal approval Ñ which the regulators now attempted. In 1774 about five thousand men, mostly armed, had assembled at Worcester to prevent and did prevent the sitting of the courts, and no courts were held for two years. This then recent precedent suggested to the distressed people of Shrewsbury the means of relief from their distresses. The first demonstration of the insurgents at Worcester, in September, was successful in preventing the sitting of the courts. It was upon this occasion that General Artemas Ward, of Shrewsbury, then chief justice of both the Courts of Sessions and Common Pleas, performed the act which will go to posterity as the crowning act of his life. Wheeler's company, which had marched into Worcester on Monday afternoon, September 4, 1786, the day before the courts were to sit, took up quarters in the courthouse Monday night, so as to be sure to be in possession when the judges should arrive next morning. Smith's company marched in from Shrewsbury early Tuesday morning, and was deployed and posted as sentries on Court Hill and around the court-house. An immense crowd of people had assembled thereabouts. Approaching the court-house, the judges were challenged by an armed sentry at the foot of Court Hill. At the order of his old commander, now chief justice, the sentry recovered his musket, presented arms and the judges proceeded past him to the courthouse. There, upon the broad step at the south entrance, stood Captain Wheeler and Captain Smith with drawn swords in their hands, and five soldiers with fixed bayonets. Right well did Artemas Ward know the men he had to deal with. Smith was his near neighbor, and lived on the opposite side to him of the Great Road through Shrewsbury. Wheeler, who was about Ward's age (nearly sixty years), had been his schoolmate in youth, and had formerly been a member of the same church. In his younger days, as a militia captain, Ward had drilled, in left foot and shoulder arms on Shrewsbury Common, the very men now in array against him. Smith and Wheeler had both served under Ward at Cambridge and at the siege of Boston, and long after his retirement as major-general he knew that they had, in humbler rank, endured the hardships of the Revolutionary War like good soldiers to its very close, and had been paid off in Continental paper. And he knew, too, that they were both poor, deeply involved in debt and harassed with suits. Proceeding to mount the court-house steps, the further progress of the judges was, by order of Captain Wheeler, arrested by the soldiers, who brought their bayonets to bear directly on the chief justice's breast, so that their points even penetrated his clothes. After a parley, the officers consented to allow him to mount the steps and address the crowd. Though Artemas Ward, of Shrewsbury, had been much in public life, he was a man usually of slow and hesitating speech, had rarely taken part in debates and had never been accounted an orator. He was a graduate of Harvard College, but, though a judge, he was not a lawyer by profession. As soon as he had looked his audience in the face there seems to have come over him a sort of inspiration, and, with great fluency, fervor and eloquence, he forthwith proceeded to reason with the people, whose grievances he did not deny upon their mistaken method of relief. The newspaper man was not there to report, nor had the speaker in his pocket an extemporaneous manuscript to privately send to the press, and only by tradition has any word of what he said survived the more than hundred years since the event; but more than anything he did say or could say Ñ more than anything the greatest of orators could have said Ñ was the dauntless courage and dignity of his conduct as a magistrate, of which to find a historical parallel you will have to make a far research Ñ reminding one of Horace's "Just and determined man, unshaken in his firmness either by wrath of citizens commanding wrongful things or by tyrants frown or raging seas or thunder-bolt of Jove, whom the ruins of a crumbling world would strike undismayed." Ñ Carmina, III. 3. But Captain Wheeler was as unshaken as his old commander, and continued firm in his determination that the judges should not enter the court- house, and they did not. At the conclusion of the chief justice's speech, which had been interrupted by cries "Adjourn without day," the judges retired to the United States Arms, opened court there and adjourned. In the last week of November following, Shrewsbury became the rendezvous of all the insurrectionary forces. Rub a dub dub, Rub a dub dub, The sojers are coming to town. And what with the drumming and fifing, marching and counter marching, tented fields and the ear-splitting fife of morning reveille breaking slumber, you would have thought it a garrison town. Col. Cushing, chairman of the selectmen, had prudently removed the town's stock of gunpowder from the powder-house and concealed it. The regulators surrounded and searched his house, but found neither powder nor selectman. The purpose of this assembling of the Shays' men was to prevent the sitting of the courts at Worcester on the first Monday of December, and both courts were adjourned to January the 23d. The crisis and climax of the rebellion was a week of unprecedented snow-storms; without blankets, rations, quarters or money, in the public highways of Worcester, in the dead of winter, with the snow three feet deep under foot and more falling, what could the Shays' men do but disperse? It was the weather and the elements that put down the Shays' Rebellion, and not the distracted and inefficient Gov. Bowdoin and his militia, who, before the dispersement of his followers at Worcester, had shown their heels to Daniel Shays every time they caught so much as a glimpse of him. The Governor crowed lustily over his victory, arrested great numbers of the rebels and had fourteen of them convicted of treason and sentenced to death. But the Shays men shortly had their innings Ñ at the spring election of 1787, when Gov. Bowdoin and his party were overwhelmingly defeated by the popular vote. In the previous year James Bowdoin had received a large majority of the votes of Shrewsbury; this year his votes in that town bore the exact ratio of one to five to those for John Hancock, who, after taking his seat as Governor, pardoned all his predecessor's convicts. Aaron Smith, of Shrewsbury, like Shays himself, and many of the more prominent of the rebels, went into exile in unknown parts Ñ somewhere out of Massachusetts, doubtless Ñ till after passage of the amnesty act, when he returned, and spent the remainder of his days (not a few) in Shrewsbury. He died May 9, 1825, aged eighty-nine years, and to his last expiring breath gloried in the part he took with Daniel Shays. Less than a year before his death he walked to Worcester to meet his old commander, the Marquis Lafayette, who immediately recognized and greeted him with kisses and embraces, bringing tears into the eyes of all who witnessed the fraternal salutation. None of the regulators that I ever heard of ever took the attitude of repentant rebels. Within the recollection of the writer a considerable number of them were still living, among the rest his grandfather Howe, who was no more ashamed of his part in the Shays Rebellion than he was of his part in the Revolutionary War, and God forbid that his grandson should offer apologies for him and his comrades or tell their story otherwise than he told it himself.
THE SLAVEHOLDERS REBELLION back to index
The news of Sumter taken came to Shrewsbury Saturday, April 12, 1861. Before the people of this town will feel such another shock as this news gave them, generations will come and go. Somehow or other the people of this town, until they heard this news, had never really believed that the slave holders actually meant war. When, on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, the post-rider just from Lexington Common, on his foaming steed, dashed through Shrewsbury and rallied her minute-men to arms, it was just what everybody expected, Ñ just what the minute-men were for. But when the news of Sumter came to town there were no minute-men listening for rallying cry to arms. Nevertheless, as soon as the news was duly authenticated, the people of Shrewsbury were just as resolved on what to do as their fathers had been eighty-six years before. And such a perfectly unanimous determination as there was! When one looked in his neighbor's face he saw fight in his eye before he had time to speak. And Shrewsbury, in this respect, probably did not much differ from other towns. But there is an aspect in which this town seems to me quite unique Ñ different from other towns. In all the other towns that I know of somebody, taking advantage of the war spirit so suddenly awakened, started round with an enlistment paper to raise a company and be captain of it. Here patriotic spirit was wholly unalloyed with any taint of self-seeking or personal ambition. Plenty of volunteers there were already to enlist as soon as they could find out how to do it and meet somebody willing to be an officer and take command of them. May 2, 1861, was held in Shrewsbury a war-meeting, first of many. At this and subsequent meetings held during the four years of the war, money was appropriated to pay volunteers for drilling, to pay for uniforms, to support the families of volunteers, to pay bounties, to bring home the bodies of deceased soldiers, to refund money contributed by citizens for bounties, and for like purposes to the amount of about twenty-two thousand dollars. According to the "Record of our Soldiers," kept by the town clerk of Shrewsbury, pursuant to an act of the General Court of 1863 (ch. 65), this town furnished one hundred and forty-seven volunteers. No man was drafted in Shrewsbury during the war, the quotas demanded of the town being filled even before they were demanded, and at the close of the war it was found that the town had furnished twenty men above its requirement. The one hundred and forty-seven volunteers of Shrewsbury enlisted, a few in this regiment and a few in that, the earliest in the Thirteenth Massachusetts. They and their deeds are credited to companies raised in other towns and cities, largely to so-called Worcester companies, and the services of our soldiers reflect honor on our neighbors of Worcester and other places. If the Shrewsbury volunteers had organized themselves into two companies and named six of their members for commissions as line officers, and one or two more for field or staff commissions, and insisted that they would only enter a regiment with these organizations and commissions, they would have done just what others did, and would have been gladly received and their requirements granted. Our soldiers might not have accomplished any more towards putting down the Rebellion then they did, and the town of Shrewsbury might not be entitled to any more credit or honor on their account than it now is. But what with the exploits of these companies, and their officers, and their promotions, and their record in published reports, letters and official documents, the writer of this history would have found better material for making a good showing for Shrewsbury in the war than he now can. The early officers of the volunteers were mostly taken from the militia. Shrewsbury had no militia company. In 1861, as was natural, a little knowledge of the tactics, such as militia officers were supposed to have, was immensely overestimated. If one could say "Shoulder arms" with the militia accent, he was accepted as a proper commander to lead a thousand men to an assault upon artillery. It was doubtless from an overestimate of the mystery of the tactics that none of the Shrewsbury volunteers sought positions as officers. The writer himself, being a native of Shrewsbury, and though not, in 1861, a resident of the town, having inborn in him much of the native modesty of Shrewsbury men, declined a commission as captain. On entering the service in a lower rank, finding the army full of brigadiers not fit for second lieutenants, he plainly saw that he had been too modest. The real difference between the officers and men of the volunteer army of the War of the Rebellion was far less than has been commonly supposed. In 1861 two major-generals were wanted from Massachusetts, and two noted politicians, both Presidential aspirants, were appointed. They had both figured in the militia, and practiced the militia accent for the manual of arms at the dress parade of militia musters. Such was their preparation to cope with Lee and Jackson. When the President was looking for two men to trust with the fate of his country and the lives of his countrymen, he had much better have looked over those one hundred and forty-seven men from Shrewsbury and made his selection from them than to have looked where and selected what he did. I don't believe that Lee would have bottled one of them up with a great army at Bermuda Hundred, nor that Stonewall would have caught another napping and sent him skedaddling, pell-mell, helter- skelter, head over heels, panic-stricken, out of the Shenandoah Valley, nor that one would have been the hero of both Big Bethel and Fort Fisher, nor that the other would have both planned and executed the Red River campaign. Twenty-nine soldiers of Shrewsbury gave their lives for their country in the War of the Rebellion, to whose memory the town has erected an enduring monument, with their names inscribed thereon, on the Common fronting close upon the public thoroughfare. Several natives of Shrewsbury were officers of rank in the War of the Rebellion, and their services for their country reflect lustre on their native town, though their residence was elsewhere. Calvin E. Pratt, of New York, who is the son of Mr. Edward A. Pratt, late of this town, was born here in 1827. A practicing lawyer in the city of New York in 1861, he laid aside his practice to recruit a regiment and had it all ready for muster in June. As colonel of this regiment, which was the Thirty-first New York Volunteers, he was commissioned June 20th to rank as of May 21st. With his command he took part in the first battle of' Bull Run; with it also he served in the Peninsula campaign of 1862 and participated in the Seven Day Fight before Richmond. At the battle of Gaines' Mills he was severely wounded. He was promoted brigadier-general September 13, 1862. General Pratt studied law in Worcester in the office of the late Judge Henry Chapin, was admitted to the bar in this county in 1853 and practiced his profession in Worcester till about a year before the war, when he removed to New York city. He has been for many years and still is a justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. John Baker Wyman, of Chicago, Ill., son of the late Seth Wyman, of Shrewsbury, was born here November 18, 1816. He had been engaged in railroad business for several years and was, at the breaking out of the Rebellion, Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railway Company. With the Chicago Light Guard, a military organization of which he was commander, as the nucleus, in the spring of 1861 he recruited the Thirteenth Illinois Infantry and was mustered into the United States service with that regiment as its colonel May 24th of that year. After a series of the most gallant and meritorious services he was killed at the siege of Vicksburg. Charles Edward Hapgood, born in Shrewsbury, December 11, 1830, and son of Captain Joab Hapgood, was at the breaking out of the war engaged in mercantile business at Amherst, N.H. He recruited a company for the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, and was mustered into service with it October 12, 1861. He served with his regiment till October 14, 1864, when, on account of severe wounds, he resigned, having been promoted lieutenant-colonel, December 14, 1862, and colonel July 3, 1864. The Fifth New Hampshire was one of the famous regiments of the army of the Potomac and did distinguished service. Its first commander, Colonel Cross, was killed at Gettysburg July 1, 1864. Dr. Henry Putnam Stearns, son of the late Asa Stearns, and born in Shrewsbury in 1827, entered the service of the United States April 18, 1861, as surgeon of the First Connecticut volunteers, a three months regiment, and was mustered out August lst of the same year, when be was appointed surgeon of volunteers and ordered to report to General Grant in the Department of the West. The next spring he was assigned to duty as Medical Director of the Right Wing of the Army of the Tennessee, was afterwards Inspector of Army Hospitals at St. Louis, also medical director of the general hospitals of the Northern Army of the Mississippi. He was afterwards in the same position at Nashville, Tenn., where he remained till the close of war when (August, 1865,) he was mustered out of service with rank of brevet lieutenant- colonel. Dr. Stearns graduated at Yale College in the class of 1853, studied his profession in the medical schools of Harvard and Yale, and also at Edinburg, Scotland, and received his degree as M.D. at Yale in 1855; practiced medicine in Marlborough, Mass., till 1860 when he removed to Hartford, Conn., where, with the exception of the period he was in the United States service, he practiced till January, 1874, when he was appointed superintendent of the Hartford Retreat for the Insane, which position he still holds. He has also been lecturer on insanity in the medical department of Yale College since 1877. Charles Grosvenor Ward, who was the son of the venerable Thomas W. Ward, Esq., and born in Shrewsbury December 30, 1829; was mustered into the service of the United States September 2, 1861, as second lieutenant in the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, the favorite regiment of the city of Boston, where he had resided for some years previous. He was promoted first lieutenant June 27, 1863, and assigned to duty as adjutant of his regiment. After participating unharmed in sixteen of the great battles of the war and without having ever received any promotions at all commensurate with his long and meritorious service, he was killed in the battle of Drury's Bluff May 11, 1864. His name is on the soldiers' monument. All the above, except Colonel Wyman, were about the writer's age and companions of his youth, and he takes pride in this opportunity for brief memorial here of their honorable and patriotic services. He will leave to others to recount his own humble efforts to serve his country. He cannot claim to reflect honor upon his native town by high rank or great exploits, and it would be presumptuous to name himself in a list of natives of Shrewsbury who performed distinguished service.
AGRICULTURE - THE STAGE BUSINESS - THE TANNING AND CURRYING BUSINESS back to index
Agriculture has always been the leading industry of the people of Shrewsbury. According to tradition, or, perhaps, it were better to say according to the best information that can be obtained from living men as to what their grandfathers told them, which covers a period of more than one hundred years, most of the lands now in use for pasture and tillage was cleared of wood before the Revolutionary War and then used for pasture and tillage. In the earliest times all meadows which, without improvement or any kind of tilling, produced grass, though of the coarsest quality, were considered "valuable," and farmers often had a few acres of "valuable meadow" quite remote from their farms. These meadows, to begin with, were generally free from wood, or, at any rate, from large trees, and the quantity of natural meadow was much increased and a much better kind of hay produced by bringing water whenever it could be done, by ditches upon uplands. Down until within the memory of living men, farm products in Shrewsbury were chiefly consumed within the town. Families were large and home consumption was large. Nor was there any market to buy or sell in, nor much money in farmers' pockets to trade with. But early in the present century it was discovered by Shrewsbury farmers that, there was a market in Boston for butter, cheese, eggs, chickens, veal and pork, and for beef on the hoof in Brighton, and a class of middle men called drovers and market men, began to pass and repass back and forth from Shrewsbury and the market. From this time farming began to improve. Farmers were not so absolutely destitute of money. There were better tools, better methods of farming, better cattle and better crops, and with industry and economy it was possible for the Shrewsbury farmer to rise a little above the chill penury of the beginners. Rye, oats, Indian-corn and hay were the chief crops. Apple trees were planted at the very outset, and, before 1776, nearly every farm had its orchard, and if good fruit was not abundant, there was no lack of cider. About 1820 market wagons began to run regularly every week from Shrewsbury to Boston, and returning they hauled for the storekeepers the groceries and dry-goods that they dealt in. This continued till about 1845, when it was found that the town of Worcester was a better market than Boston as well as much nearer, and everybody could be his own market-man, and so put in his own pocket the commissions on sales. Before the use of coal became common in Worcester, the Shrewsbury farmer had a near and growing market for wood as fuel, and before the great forests of Canada and the west were connected by rail with the east, the demand of Worcester for Shrewsbury lumber was beyond the supply. But times in recent years, with the Shrewsbury farmer have greatly changed, and there is but one farm product in respect to which he is not obliged to compete with producers of remote States. On account of its quickly perishable nature, milk, which is in demand the year round, is in no danger of remote competition. It is to-day the chief product that goes to market from Shrewsbury farms. Except milk, and possibly apples, of which in alternate years the orchards of Shrewsbury produce a large quantity and of famous quality, I do not suppose there is any other farm product of sufficient amount to supply more than the home market. In recent years the salable value of farm lands in Shrewsbury has been steadily diminishing, and, in fact, they cannot be sold at all. Nobody will buy and many want to sell. There is not, probably, a farm in the town that would sell for enough to pay the cost of the buildings and fences standing on it. The reasons are not far to seek. "To diversify industry" the manufactures of Massachusetts have been so favored at the expense of agriculture that the natives of Shrewsbury have been enticed away from the homes and occupations of their fathers to enter shops. The "home markets" which the cities and manufacturing centers of the State are reputed to furnish, are flooded with the farm products of other States, and the Shrewsbury farmer has to pay tribute not only to other occupations for every article of clothing he wears and every tool that he uses, but even for farm products to farmers of sunnier climes and more fertile soils than his own living within his own country. Not a pound of sugar or rice can he buy without paying the favored growers of these necessities of life double prices. Protection for everybody else's products and free trade against his have ground the Shrewsbury farmer like upper and nether millstones, and no wonder he wants to sell his farm and no wonder nobody wants to buy it. In 1860 was formed in Shrewsbury a Farmers' Club, for the purpose of promoting the best methods of farming. The club holds occasional meetings in the winter season for discussion of agricultural topics, and its annual cattle shows, held in October, have become famous and the favorite resort of the people of neighboring towns. In 1815 was formed in Shrewsbury a like association, called the Agricultural Associates of Shrewsbury, and the next year another, with the name of the Agricultural Associates of Worcester, was formed in Worcester. In 1818 the two societies were merged in a county society and incorporated under the name of the Worcester Agricultural Society which directly took and has ever since maintained a prominent position in the esteem, not only of the farmers, but of all the people of Worcester County of whatever occupations. Of other branches of business, such as the manufacture of guns, of watches and of boots and shoes, which, to some extent never large, was formerly carried on here, the limits of this work do not admit of more specific mention. But I cannot omit some brief account of the famous stage business, whose founder and manager lived here, and with Shrewsbury as his headquarters carried it on to places far remote; nor of the tanning and currying business which, begun here in an humble way more than a century ago, has grown to a very extensive business. Captain Levi Pease, the founder of stage business in this country, moved from Boston to Shrewsbury in 1793. He was a son of Nathaniel Pease, born at Enfield, Conn., in 1739, and was by trade a blacksmith. His father was a sailor, and reported to have been lost at sea. His mother married a second husband, named Parsons, after which her first husband returned. After one glance at the situation Nathaniel Pease went off to sea, and was never heard of at Enfield again. Levi's title as captain was earned in the Continental line. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War he was living at Blandford, Mass. He served with General Thomas in Canada, and later with General Wordsworth in the Commissary Department, Ñ often employed in perilous enterprises, to bear dispatches and obtain supplies, Ñ a resolute and tireless man, up early and down late. After the war he kept a tavern for some years at Somers, Conn. Afterwards he kept the Lamb in Boston, whence he removed to Shrewsbury, where he bought the tavern stand of Major John Farrar. But more than ten years before Captain Pease came here, he had projected and was running a stage line from Boston to Hartford. Farrar's Tavern in Shrewsbury had been from the beginning a night stopping-place on the line, and after becoming familiar with his route, he selected it as the best point from which to operate his business. He took into partnership with him a young native of Somers named Reuben Sykes, who was also a blacksmith. No man of capital would invest a dollar with Pease and Sykes in their visionary stage line. Said a solid man of Boston to Captain Pease: "The time may come when a stage line to Hartford will pay, but not in your day." The partners commenced business with an outfit of eight horses and "two convenient wagons," and their first trip was performed October 20, 1783. Pease drove one wagon from the Lamb Tavern in Boston at six o'clock Monday morning, and reached Hartford on Thursday; and Sykes drove the other, leaving Hartford at the same time, and arriving also in Boston in four days. Two of the night stopping places were Farrar's, in Shrewsbury, and Pease's, in Somers. The other Ñ when Tuesday night they met Ñ was at Rice's, in Brookfield. And they ran in fair weather and in foul, in mud and in snow, passengers or no passengers, punctual as the stars in their courses. In two years this stage line was a great success, and was extended to New York. In 1786 Pease and Sykes established a line of stages from Portsmouth to Savannah, and carried the mails. They also had, for several years, an exclusive contract with the government to carry the mails for all New England, re-letting to numerous others, who on branch lines collected and distributed the mails. It was Pease and Sykes that made punctual as the mail a proverb. Captain Pease learned his punctuality in one lesson, and his teacher was George Washington, who, when he was at Cambridge in 1776, wanted to buy a pair of horses, and made an appointment with Pease, who had a pair of horses to sell. Pease was a few minutes too late for the appointment, and Washington did not wait for him. It was the last time Levi Pease ever got left. The founder of stage lines was also the first projector of turnpikes. Of all the many companies chartered in Massachusetts about the beginning of this century to build turnpikes, it was the First Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation whose charter (1796) was to Levi Pease and his associates, authorizing them to build a turnpike through Palmer and Western. He put in his earnings and savings, and made a good road where there was a very bad one; but the turnpike never paid, and in consequence of his investments in its stock Captain Pease died a poor man. But he lived and ran his stages many years. His death took place in Shrewsbury January 28, 1824, and his age was eighty-four years. His honor and integrity, which were as famous as his punctuality, were inborn, and therein Washington himself could have taught him nothing. Often in the army, often in his business as tavern-keeper and stage-driver trusted with uncounted money, the trust was sacredly inviolate. For many years four stages a day, two going east and two going west, passed through Shrewsbury on the Great Road. In 1806 the Worcester Turnpike Association was chartered to build a turnpike from Worcester to Roxbury. Its course was as straight as possible, and ran through the south part of Shrewsbury. After its completion in 1808, four stages Ñ two each day also Ñ ran daily on the turnpike. Another turnpike, having Shrewsbury for one of its termini, and Amherst for the other Ñ the Sixth Massachusetts Ñ sometimes called the Holden Turnpike Ñ was built in 1800. A line of stages also ran daily on the turnpike. Both of these turnpikes were abandoned many years ago by the corporations that built them, and were laid out by the county commissioners as highways. Col. Nymphas Pratt, whose father, Capt. Seth Pratt, was the founder of the tanning and currying business in Shrewsbury, was born April 5, 1786, in the old house owned by Henry Harlow, standing near the brick house in which he lives. The tannery was on the south side of the road opposite the houses, and was sold in 1796 with the old house then comparatively new, and about twenty-two acres of land, by Capt. Pratt to the writer's grandfather, Thomas Harlow, who came from Duxbury, when he was twenty-one years old, to buy it, and paid $1000 for it. Here was the place where, and Seth Pratt was the man by whom the tanning business was begun in Shrewsbury. After sale of his tannery he moved to Barre, dammed the Ware River, built woolen-mills and founded the village of Barre Plains. Deacon Thomas Harlow, who was a farmer as well as tanner, carried on the tannery for nearly fifty years in connection with his farm, which he bought piece by piece of his neighbors. Col. Pratt, Capt. Seth's son (military titles both derived from militia commissions), about the year 1810 built a new tannery in the Lower Village in Shrewsbury, where the business or the currying branch of it has been continued to the present day. Here Col. Pratt did the business, both tanning and currying, till from a small beginning it grew into a very large and prosperous one, and the owner of it became a man of great influence and was accounted to possess immense wealth. People said he was worth one hundred thousand dollars, which sounded bigger than a million does now. Col. Pratt was one of the principal founders of the Citizens' Bank in Worcester, incorporated in 1836 with a capital stock of $250,000, and was its first president. In 1839 he failed in business and this bank, which had discounted a large amount of his paper, was a heavy loser. But the failure of Col. Pratt was due not so much to his own business as a tanner and currier as to his courageous and honorable though rash attempt to sustain through such a financial crisis as that of 1837-40, the firm of S. H. Allen & Co., of which the partners were his son, William Pratt, who was a lawyer and lived in Worcester, and his son-in-law, Simon Hapgood Allen, who was the active manager of the firm business and lived in Shrewsbury. The business of this firm, which was formed in 1833 and carried on at the brick store in the Lower Village in Shrewsbury, was mainly the manufacture of ready-made clothing. Mr. Allen may be said to have been the founder of the ready-made clothing business. The firm employed a large force of tailors, who cut out the garments, which were taken home and sewed by women at their houses. Many of the sales of the firm were on credit at places far remote Ñ in the South and West. In such a crisis as that of 1837 no wonder the firm failed. If Col. Pratt had allowed this firm to go down into its inevitable bankruptcy, probably he might have saved himself and his own proper business. Upon the winding up of Col. Pratt's affairs in bankruptcy, Lucius H. Allen, who was his foreman, bought of his assignees the tanning business, and continued to carry it out till 1862, and Jonathan H. Nelson and Thomas Rice, who had learned the trade of curriers in Col. Pratt's shop, took the currying business. With no capital except their trade to begin business with, by industry, laboring untiringly with their own hands they, by degrees, built up a very large and profitable business. In 1862 Mr. Allen, who had also done a large and profitable business, sold out to Nelson & Rice his tannery. During the war the business of this firm became enormous and its profits immense Ñ many times exceeding anything that Col. Pratt had ever done or dreamed of. Mr. Nelson died in 1872, leaving a large estate, and his partner, Mr. Rice, has recently died, leaving, doubtless, a much larger. The business is still carried on by Mr. Charles 0. Green, who, after the death of Mr. Nelson, was associated with Mr. Rice as partner. Col. Pratt, Mr. Allen, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Rice were all men of public spirit, and deeply interested in all that concerned the town of Shrewsbury and the Congregational parish; and they were, all of them, honored with the public trusts of selectmen and representatives to the General Court. Mr. Rice was also, in 1869, a member of the Massachusetts Senate, and, having been for many years a director of the First National Bank of Worcester and president of the Northborough National Bank, he had an extensive acquaintance among business men.
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION GRADUATES OF COLLEGES PUBLIC EDUCATION back to index
The first physician in Shrewsbury was Dr. Joshua Smith, 1719-56, who practiced here from about 1740 till his death. He held the offices of town clerk, selectman and assessor for several years, and specimens of his elegant chirography are preserved in the town archives. But he set the example, followed by so many of his successors, of cavilling at sound doctrine, and Deacon Isaac Stone laid a complaint before the brethren of the church "that ye sd. Smith was defective in ye fundamental article of original sin." And therefore a committee of three Orthodox divines was appointed to discourse with him. Now, Dr. Smith was son-in-law of Rev. John Prentice, of Lancaster, and brother-in-law of Rev. Job Cushing, of Shrewsbury, and I strongly suspect that the ecclesiastical discipline of Dr. Smith was aimed less at him than at his kindred by marriage, whose defectiveness upon the Calvinistic fundamentals Deacon Stone did not choose to directly attack. All the same, to argue original sin against three learned divines all at once was nuts for "ye sd. Smith,'' who according to tradition, unhorsed his antagonists as completely as he had his neighbor, the deacon. Dr. Zachariah Harvey, who lived in "Shrewsbury Leg," now a part of Sterling, practiced here from about 1740 to 1750, when he removed to Princeton, and was directly chosen there moderator, clerk, selectman, assessor and delegate to the General Court. He is said to have been the introducer of the Harvey apple. Dr. Edward Flint, 1733-1818, came here from Concord about 1756, shortly after Dr. Smith's death. Besides his service in the French War, elsewhere mentioned, he also served as an army surgeon in the Revolutionary War. He was a famous doctor, had a large practice, and lived where Mr. George H. Harlow and his wife, who is Dr. Flint's grand-daughter, now lives. He was several years town clerk and one of the selectmen. His son, Dr. Austin Flint, 1760- 1850, born here, practiced in Leicester many years and rose to eminence in his profession. At the age of seventeen years he enlisted in the Revolutionary War, marched to Bennington and served till the close of the was Dr. John Flint, 1779-1809, another son of Dr. Edward and a native of this town, practiced in Petersham. Of Rev. Ebenezer Morse's practice as a physician mention has already been made. His son, Dr. Eliakim Morse, 1759-1840, also practiced in the North Parish. Dr. Amariah Bigelow, born here 1757, also practiced in the North Parish. Dr. Samuel Crosby, born here 1732, lived on "Boston Hill," in the southeast part of the town, and practiced here till the Revolutionary War, when he entered the Continental service as an army surgeon. After the war he removed to Winchendon. Dr. Paul Dean came here from Franklin about 1790 with his father, Captain Ebenezer Dean, who settled in the southeast part of the town on the place afterwards known as the Balch Dean Place, so called after Captain Ebenezer's nephew, who lived and died there within the memory of the present generation. Here in 1792, when the small-pox appeared in town, Dr. Dean opened a hospital, where people resorted to be inoculated and treated for that malady. He was a musician, taught singing-schools and led the church choir. After practicing here some years he went South and never returned. Dr. Silas Wheelock, 1769-1817, came here from Northbridge about 1800, and practiced till his death. He lived on the place now owned by Mr. Lewis E. Colton, whose wife was Dr. Wheelock's grand-daughter. He had the reputation of a skillful physician and surgeon. Dr. Seth Knowlton, 1781-1832, a native of Shrewsbury whom we have seen leading the heretical revolt of 1821, practiced here about thirty years. He was a man of strong intellect and great influence in the town, and he was noted as much for his positive opinions and his ability to maintain them against all opposers as he was for his skill as a surgeon and physician. He built and lived in the house where his successor, Dr. Adolphus Brigham, afterwards lived. Dr. William Workman (Harvard College, 1825) came to Shrewsbury about 1826, and continued in practice here till about 1830, when he removed to Worcester, where he became eminent in his profession and had a large practice. Dr. Azor R. Phelps practiced here from about 1835, to 1843, when he died. He lived in the house now owned by Mr. Leander Ware and was proprietor of Phelps' Arcanum, once a famous panacea. Dr. Adolphus Brigham came here from Marlborough in 1827, lived in the house built by Dr. Knowlton, on Grafton Street, and succeeded to his practice. He was, in his time, "the Doctor of Shrewsbury," and his practice extended to adjoining towns. A good man, and well skilled, both as a surgeon and physician, he had the respect and confidence of all who knew him, and died much lamented. Dr. Alonzo Smith came here from Vermont about 1834. In 1837 he returned to Vermont and died there. Dr. John Heard came here in 1847, and remained about a year. Dr. Joel B. Fay came from Northbridge about 1850, and practiced here till his death, in 1860. He lived in the house now the congregational parsonage. Dr. Dean Towne practiced here from about 1840 to 1850, when he removed to Worcester. Dr. Frederick A. Jewett, who moved from Abington to this town in 1859, practiced here till 1870, when he removed to Grafton. Dr. John T. Wetherbee, a native of Marlborough, came here from California in 1860, and continued in practice till 1863, when he entered the United States naval service as acting assistant surgeon. He died after a brief term of service on board the United States ship "Currier," in the Gulf of Mexico, and his name is on the Soldiers' Monument. Dr. Emerson Warner practiced here from 1863 to 1865, when he removed to Worcester, where he still lives and has a large practice. Dr. Franklin Whiting Brigham, born here in 1841, and son of Dr. Adolphus, studied his profession at Harvard Medical School, and, after serving two years as acting assistant surgeon in the United States navy, settled here in 1865, and remains in practice: He lives in the same house, built by Calvin R. Stone, where his predecessor, Dr. Warner, lived. Dr. Jeremiah C. Foster, who was an army surgeon in the United States volunteer service during the Rebellion, settled here in 1867. In 1873 he removed to Barre, and died there. Dr. J. C. Coburn came here in 1878 and remained till 1880, when he removed to Brooklyn, Conn. Dr. George L. Tobey practiced here from 1879 to 1880, when he removed to Lancaster. Dr. Charles Sumner Pratt, a native of Shrewsbury, and son of the late Nathan Pratt, Jr., opened an office here in 1879 in the "Old Store Block," and remains in practice. He is a graduate of the Medical Department of Michigan University. The following natives of Shrewsbury have been graduates of colleges: Rev. Jacob Cushing, 1730-1809 (Harvard College, 1748), son of Rev. Job Cushing was settled in Waltham. In 1807 Harvard conferred on him the degree of D.D. Rev. John Cushing, 1737-1823 (Harvard College, 1764), another son of Rev. Job Cushing, was settled in Ashburnham. He also received (1822) the degree of D.D. from Harvard. Rev. Lemuel Hedge, 1734-77 (Harvard College, 1759), son of Elisha Hedge, who came to this town from Boston about 1730, and built a mill-dam and grist-mill, called in later times Harlow's Mills, after a successive owner, and removed to Hardwick in 1738, was settled in Warwick. He was the father of Professor Levi Hedge, over thirty years an instructor in Harvard College, and grandfather of the eminent Rev. Dr. Frederick H. Hedge, of Cambridge. Rev. Nehemiah Parker, 1742-1801 (Harvard College, 1763), son of Stephen Parker, who came here from Roxbury in 1740 or sooner, was the first settled minister in Hubbardston. Rev. Isaac Stone, 1748-1837 (Harvard College, 1770), son of Deacon Jonas Stone, was settled in Douglas. Rev. Frederick Parker, 1762-1802 (Harvard College, 1784), son of Amos Parker, who removed from Lexington to this town about 1753, was settled in Canterbury, N.H., where, in the midst of his services as minister on a Sunday, he fell dead in his pulpit. Rev. Aaron Crosby, 1744-1824 (Harvard College, 1770), SON of Samuel Crosby, who lived on "Boston Hill," and was one of the first comers to Shrewsbury, was settled in Dummerston, Vt. Before his settlement there he had spent several years as a missionary among the Indians. Rev. Otis Crosby, 1766-95 (Dartmouth College, 1786), nephew of the preceding and son of Dr. Samuel Crosby, was called to settle at Gloucester, Me., but died before ordination. Rev. Samuel Sumner, 1765-1836 (Dartmouth College, 1786) son of Rev. Dr. Joseph Sumner, was first settled in Southborough, and afterwards at Bakersfield, Vt. Professor Benjamin Stone, 1756-1832 (Harvard College, 1776), son of Jasper Stone, was the first preceptor of Leicester Academy, subsequently also of Westford Academy. Later in life he returned to this town, and died here. Colonel Benjamin Heywood, 1746-1816 (Harvard College, 1775), son of Phineas Heywood, who came here from Concord about 1739, and lived in the northwest corner of Shrewsbury, where some of' his descendants still live, served through the Revolutionary War, in all ranks from captain to colonel, and was a justice of the Worcester County Court of Common Pleas, 1802-11. He was father of' the late Dr. Benjamin F. Heywood, of Worcester. Rev. Wilkes Allen, 1775-1845 (Harvard College 1801), son of Elnathan Allen, was settled 1803 at Chelmsford, and dismissed, at his request, 1832; after which he removed to Andover, and died there. Nathan Goddard, 1746-1795 (Harvard College 1770), son of Benjamin Goddard, was a lawyer, and practiced his profession in Shrewsbury, Newbury Vt., and Framingham. Hon. Calvin Goddard, 1768-1842 (Dartmouth College, 1786), and so classmate of Rev. Samuel Sumner and Rev. Otis Crosby, before mentioned, Ñ was son of Daniel and grandson of Edward Goddard, went from this town to Connecticut to practice his profession, the law; settled first at Plainfield, but afterwards removed to Norwich where he rose to eminence at the bar and in public office. He was seventeen years mayor of Norwich and twice (1801 and 1803) elected to Congress. And he was chosen by the Connecticut Legislature, and served as a delegate to the Hartford Convention, 1814. In 1815 he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court. In 1818 resigned his office as judge to resume practice of the law. General Artemas Ward, 1727-1800 (Harvard College, 1748), was son of Colonel Nahum Ward. Besides the high civil and military offices which he held (to which reference has been made elsewhere), he received from his fellow-townsmen almost every mark of trust and honor they had to bestow. He was sixteen times elected Representative to the General Court. In the year of the Shays' Rebellion, being defeated as a candidate for Representative by Captain Isaac Harrington, an ardent Shays' man, General Ward ever afterwards refused to be a candidate for any office in Shrewsbury, but he was next year and twice afterwards elected to Congress. Hon. Artemas Ward, 1762-1746 (Harvard College, 1783), son of General Artemas, commenced practice of law in 1785 at Weston, but afterward removed to Charlestown, and while there was several times elected a member of the Governor's Council. He next removed to Boston, and was thence elected to Congress. In 1820, on organization of the Court of Common Pleas as a State Court, he was appointed chief justice, and held the office till 1839, when he resigned it. Henry D. Ward, 1768-1817 (Harvard College, 1791), another son of Gen. Artemas, settled in practice of the law at Charleston, S.C. He died at Middletown, Conn. Andrew H. Ward, 1784-1857 (Harvard College, 1808), grandson of Gen. Artemas and son of Thomas W. Ward, who was about twenty years sheriff of Worcester County, practiced law at Shrewsbury from 1811 to 1829, when he removed to Boston. He afterward removed to Newton and died there. In 1826 he published in the Worcester Magazine a "History of Shrewsbury." But this is not the work commonly known as Ward's History, which, published in 1847 by Mr. Ward, is chiefly valuable for its family register. Rev. Henry Dana Ward, 1797-1885 (Harvard College, 1816), was another son of Sheriff Ward. After his graduation he remained some time at Cambridge as scholar of the house, but was not settled as a minister till 1845, when be was ordained over the Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, Va. It was he whom we met before in connection with the dismissal of Rev. George Allen and the law-suit that followed it. Mr. Ward was buried with his ancestors in the family lot in this town. David Brigham, 1786-1843 (Harvard College, 1810), son of David Brigham, Sr., was a lawyer and practiced in New Braintree, Leicester, Greenfield, Shrewsbury and Fitchburg. From the latter place he removed to Iowa and died there. David T. Brigham, 1806-69 (Amherst College, ] 828), son of Edmund T. Brigham and nephew of the preceding, practiced law in Worcester a short time. He removed to St. Louis, Mo., and thence removed to Keokuk, Iowa, where he died. Jubal Harrington, 1803-77 (Brown University, 1826), son of Fortunatus Harrington, practiced law in Worcester. He was an ardent partisan of President Jackson, who appointed him postmaster of Worcester. He left Worcester in the phrase of the times "between two days," and was next heard of in Texas. He died in Columbia, Cal. William Pratt, 1806-39 (Brown University, 1825), son of Col. Nymphas Pratt, commenced the practice of law in Shrewsbury. In 1835 he removed to Worcester and formed a professional connection with Judge Pliny Merrick. Francis Dean, 1804-85 (Brown University, 1826), son of Francis Dean, Sr., commenced the practice of the law at Southborough in 1830. He afterwards removed to Uxbridge, and again to Worcester, where he died. Rev. William Addison Houghton (Yale College, 1840), came here in his youth from Berlin, and went to college from this town. He was first ordained and settled at Northborough. He afterwards was installed at Berlin, where he still resides. Samuel B. Ingersoll Goddard, born here in 1821 (Amherst College, 1840), son of Perley Goddard, was admitted to the bar in 1848, and has practiced law in Worcester ever since. William Taylor Harlow, born here in 1828, son of Gideon Harlow (Yale College, 1851), has practiced law at Spencer, Red Bluff, Cal., and Worcester; was in the United States Volunteer service, 1861-63; an officer of the United States Internal Revenue about eight years, and since 1877 has held the office of assistant clerk of the courts for the county of Worcester. For notice of Dr. Henry P. Stearns (Yale College, 1853), see page 802. Rev. Edward Henry Pratt, 1826-78 (Amherst College, 1853), son of Nathan Pratt, Jr., began to preach at East Woodstock, Conn., and was ordained there in 1857. In 1867 he was appointed secretary of The Connecticut Temperance Union, and devoted the remainder of his life with unsparing self-sacrifice to the cause of temperance. He was brother of Dr. Charles S. Pratt of this town; brother also of Rev. George Harlow Pratt, now of Barnstable, born here in 1839, who left Amherst College in 1862, when he was a student in the Sophomore Class, to enter the United States service, and who was first settled in the ministry in the town of Harvard; brother also of William G. Pratt, of New Haven, editor of the New Haven Journal and Courier. Rev. Franklin Charles Flint, 1836-76 (Tuft's College, 1861), son of Henry H. Flint, was first settled in the ministry at Chatham, next at Southbridge, and again at Attleborough, where he died. Rev. Benjamin Angier Dean, born here in 1840 (Amherst College, 1862), son of James Dean, after spending several years on the Western frontier in the Home Missionary service, is now preaching at Sanbornton, N.H. Hollis W. Cobb, 1866 (Yale College, 1878), son of Albert Cobb, lives in Shrewsbury, but keeps an office and practices his profession as a lawyer at Worcester. He is one of the special Justices of the Central District Court of Worcester. Florence H. Reed, daughter of LeRoy S. Reed, graduated at Wellesley College in 1886, and died in 1887, at Pasadena, Cal., where she had gone in vain pursuit of health. Michael Edward Kelley, son of Ñ Kelley, graduated at Harvard College 1888. Thomas Rice, son of Aaron B. Rice, graduated, 1888, at the Massachusetts Agricultural College. In recent years the number of college graduates has been less than in former times. Without attempting to enumerate all the reasons therefor, probably the greatly improved opportunities afforded by the excellent schools of the town for education may be one, and doubtless the higher requirement of American Colleges for admission is another. In the day of Rev. Job Cushing there was no Shrewsbury High School where he could send his sons to be fitted for college, and probably Jacob and John, who both bore off the honors of Harvard, were prepared for admission by their father. The original grant to the Shrewsbury proprietors provided for a lot for the school as well as one for the ministry, but the school lot, No. 20, laid out at Rocky Pond, was a worthless parcel of land which nobody wanted, and appears to have been assigned to the school for that very reason. And truth to tell, there can be little doubt that our fathers of the first generation, here in their poverty, and with many burdens resting heavily upon them, did discharge their duties as rewards public education in rather a perfunctory way Ñ not that they underrated the value of education to their children. Other parents, as well as Mr. Cushing, probably instructed their own children at home, and if they could not, like him, teach the classical tongues, they were masters of the three Rs., and competent to transmit to posterity, reading, writing and arithmetic. In the second generation, about the time of partition of the town into two parishes, the whole town was districted Ñ divided into squadrons, as the districts were at first called, and public schools have ever since been maintained. For more than one hundred years, with only slight interruptions, a summer term for the younger children was kept by a female teacher, and a winter term for the older ones by a "master." These terms varied in duration from six weeks or less, to ten or more. Down until within the memory of people still living, young men and women frequently attended the winter term after they were twenty-one years old. It required an able man to keep a winter school in Shrewsbury in the olden time, and many a man who might have made a good mayor of a city or Governor of a State, failed in the attempt. A successful teacher bore the title of Master for life. The last bearer of the title in this town, Master Nathan Pratt, reputed to have been a model school teacher, both as regards government and instruction, died in 1847, in his eighty-eighth year. He was grandfather of Rev. Edward H. Pratt and his brothers before mentioned. I well remember him Ñ a venerable man of very benevolent aspect, much interested in and very kind to children. But in later days the schools of Shrewsbury have undergone considerable changes. The common schools are now taught entirely by female teachers, and with necessary vacations, are kept throughout the year. In respect to appropriations for its schools, to rate of wages paid its teachers and regularity of its scholars' attendance, Shrewsbury ranks high among the towns of the State in the reports of the secretary of the Board of Education. For more than thirty years the town has supported a High School, though not required by law so to do, having never had even the minimum number of families (five hundred), upon which the legal obligation of towns to support such a school rests. In 1883 the town built a handsome and commodious building for its High School. The only fund or source of income which the town has for support of its schools other than an annual tax, is legacy of one thousand dollars, given by the late Amasa Howe. The "dog fund," so-called which cannot legally be used for other than for educational purposes, has been for many years applied by a vote of the town to a town library, which contains about one thousand two hundred volumes, an is an important educational force in Shrewsbury.
BIOGRAPHICAL JONATHAN H. NELSON back to index
Jonathan H. Nelson, son of Captain Jonathan Nelson, was born in Shrewsbury April 26, 1812. He died May 20, 1872, aged sixty years and twenty-four days. In person he was square built, thick set, with black hair and eyes, of full face and of firm and elastic step. From early years he was a lad of industry, of perseverance and high resolve. Fortified against manifold dangers and temptations by the counsel and care of one of the best of mothers, he began his life as an apprentice at the tanner's trade. He and his late partner, the Hon. Thomas Rice, were fellow-apprentices in the establishment of Colonel Nymphas Pratt, whose counsels and example proved of great value to their riper years. Working more than the hours required, each of these young men accumulated a few hundred dollars. By diligence, industry, economy, prudence, perseverance and strict attention to business, these young men won the respect and confidence of the community. Mr. Nelson and his partner became at length the proprietors of the establishment in which they had been apprentices together, under the firm name of Nelson & Rice. Endowed with remarkable energy and business tact, vigorous health and strong constitution, and devoting himself to personal labor daily, as many hours as required of any of their employees, prosperity crowned the establishment. Mr. Nelson was a man of truthfulness, of sterling integrity and every way reliable as a manufacturer and a man. Having no children, and being strictly temperate and prudent in his habits, his means increased, his business expanded, and from time to time the manufactory was enlarged. From the commencement of the copartnership of the firm, in 1839, his wealth continued to increase, till, several years before his death, he was acknowledged to be the wealthiest man in Shrewsbury. It is highly creditable to the firm of which he was the senior partner, that they had been associated in business for a period of forty-two years in all, with the utmost harmony. It is true, when, in 1839, their late copartnership was formed, they entered on a business already established. It is true, as already stated in public, that the business experience and judicious counsel and advice of Colonel Pratt were to them of inestimable value. On some men these would have been lost. Something more, however, than the wisdom and counsel of the sagest adviser was requisite to enable these men to carry on successfully a business so extensive as to require, in various stations and services, the daily employment of one hundred an-l twenty-five men, and yet to maintain such promptness in the payment of all bills, that no bill, during the whole copartnership, was ever presented at their office a second time. Yet such, we learn, are the facts. With all his devotion to business, Mr. Nelson was eminently a social, genial, condescending man. He was liberal and humane, accommodating, benevolent and kind. He was a constant attendant on the Sabbath services of the sanctuary, a liberal supporter of the Gospel and a generous contributor to the various objects presented for benevolent or charitable aid. He made the following public bequests: To the Congregational Society, in Shrewsbury, $5000; Massachusetts Bible Society, $2000; Home Missionary Society, $2000; Society for the Promotion of Collegiate Theological Education at the West, $1000; American Missionary Association, New York, $1000. HON. THOMAS RICE was born in Marlboro', Mass., and came to this town when a young man and served as an apprentice to Colonel Pratt, who carried on the business of tanner and currier. Colonel Pratt failed in 1839, and Mr. L. H. Allen purchased of the assignees the tanning department of the business, and about the same time Mr. Rice, in company with Jonathan H. Nelson, bought out the currying department. For a period of twenty years Mr. Rice and Mr. Nelson carried on a fine growing business, and during the war it increased largely. After the death of Mr. Nelson, in 1872, Mr. Charles 0. Green, for several years book-keeper of the concern, was admitted as a partner; the firm-name being Thomas Rice & Co., Mr. Rice remaining head of the firm until his death, which occurred May 29, 1888. Mr. Rice was always a public-spirited man; his town honored him with many offices of trust Ñ such as selectman, representative Ñ and he was a member of the State Senate in 1869. For more than half a century the interests of the town were his interests. His time, his money, his counsel were always available for the advancement of the public good. Progress in every direction, education, morality and religion found in him an earnest and steadfast supporter. Of a genial disposition he was ever on the watch to do a kindly act or speak a helpful word. He was for many years a director in the Northboro' Bank and the First National Bank of Worcester, and president of the former at the time of his death; also a director in many other well-known financial institutions. As his business and wealth increased so grew in popularity. He built a fine residence where he dispensed a generous hospitality. Mr. Rice was twice married: for his first wife Caroline P. daughter of Liberty Allen, of this town; for his second wife he married Ellen A. Lawrence, daughter of the late David B. Lawrence, of Brimfield, Mass. By this union there are two children Ñ Edwin L. and Edith A. - end - Colony Records IV., Part I, 314 and 372. For rude plans see Worcester Reg. Deeds B. 3, p. 95. Colony Records III. 189 and 435; IV., Part 1. 295- IV., Part II 7 and 8 and 111. See plan in Secretary's office, vol. Ñ, Maps and Plans. Col. Rec. IV. Pt. II. 45 and 148. Hiram Harlow crosses our Cold Harbor and inserts "Rawson" Col Rec Vol. 415, 418; III. 178. So Hutchinson i. 165, to which tradition adds that the bride, being set in the scales, exactly balanced the silver pine-trees. -Merely suggesting to the reader that a pine-tree shilling's prescribed weight was three pennyweights, Troy, I leave him to compute "exactly" what was Mrs. Sewall's weight on her wedding-day. Book 3, page 91. Since the above was in the hands of the publishers I have discovered, under date of June 20, 1715, another grant of sixteen hundred and eighty-three acres to the heirs of John Haynes, lying in the southerly part of Shrewsbury and adjoining "Haynes Old Farm" on the south side. This is what is called in the Proprietors' Records "Robbins' Farm," so named from Joseph Robbins "Praying Indian" of Hassanamisco, whose title Deacon Haynes in his lifetime bought, of which title this grant was a confirmation. See Court Records, 1715, and Maps and Plans, Vol. 5, page 3, Secretary of State's office. See also a plan of the original grant to the Shrewsbury Proprietors, Vol. 16, p. 518, on which this grant, under the name of "Haynes' Indian Farm," is laid down. Roxbury and Springfield. Colony Records, V. 394 Now Northborough Distinguished also buy a recent archaeological find of much interest. Ditching in his meadow in 1884 Mr. Maynard came upon the fossil molars of a mastodon, and the next year, in the margin of the ditch, which it was known was to be explored by the amateurs of the Worcester Natural History Society was found a human skull, doubtless the prank of a practical joker, of which not only the amateurs, but a learned professor of Harvard became eager victims. Cambridge Registry," Book 29, page 44. Ward, pp. 20 and 266-268, and see the deacon's deed of 1720 to his son in "Worcester Registry," Book 23, page 214. Mr. Ward is very wide of the fact in supposing this deed to relate to house-lot No. 26 of the proprietors' records, and in supposing this lot (26) to be the place where Erastus Wheelock, great-great-grandson of the first deacon, now lives. Mary Hapgood was the first wife of John Wheeler. More than forty years ago Nathan Howe pointed out to two of his grandsons the corners and boundaries of the Taylor grant, and told them that they were pointed out to him when a boy by his grandfather Taylor. These grandsons were then school boys, of the age of seventeen years, studying surveying in the Shrewsbury High School and one of them, a youth of rare promise and mathematical capacity, surveyed and plotted the old Common as his great-great-grandfather originally granted it, and his plot lies before me on my desk while I write. His field notes are "Began at S.W. corner on the road and ran east 31 rods, N. 4¡ W. 72.5 rods, S. 70¡ [Hiram Harlow changed 70 to 78] 78¡ W. 43.5 rod., S. 17¡ E. 68.5 rods, to where we began, Ñ area 16 acres, 42 rods." The other boy was the writer [William T. Harlow], who alone, of all William Taylor's descendants, has the honor to bear his name. His cousin, who made the survey, and whose name was Nathan Howe, so called after his grandfather, untimely died at the age of twenty-one years of a malignant typhus. I have recently discovered in the files of the Supreme Judicial Court, October Term, 1832, at Worcester, First Parish in Shrewsbury vs. Daniel Smith, a carefully made plan of the "Meeting-House lands" by Henry Snow, for the use of the court trial of that case, showing all the roads, buildings horse sheds, tombs and fences and the site of the meeting house it was in 1832, and I am both gratified and surprised at the almost exact coincidence of the survey of this accurate and painstaking surveyor with that of my youthful cousin. A history of Shrewsbury ought not to omit some notice of the famous lawsuit of the parish with Daniel Smith, and I must crowd in somewhere a brief account of it, Ñ here perhaps as well as anywhere. In 1830 Daniel Smith, who was a grandson of William Taylor, claimed title to the Common as his heir, plowed it up and sowed it with rye, whereupon the parish brought an action of trespass against him. Of course Taylor himself had no title after his conveyance to the proprietors, except as one of them, and even this title, since the proprietors were corporation, did not descend to Taylor's heirs; and, even if Taylor had never conveyed the Common at all, Smith would have had no other title than as one of Taylor's many descendants. But the proprietors were all dead, and their quasi-corporate organization was extinct. And they had never, either personally or corporately, conveyed the Common to either the town or the parish, nor to anybody. In the action brought against him by the parish, Smith's lawyers, Rejoyce Newton and Levi Lincoln finding he had no title to stand on boldly challenged the title of the parish. But the Court held that the parish was the legal successor of the proprietors to at least so much of the Common as had been actually used for parochial purposes, and, being in actual possession, could maintain action against a stranger. The case is a leading authority upon parish law, 14 Pick., 297. The sermon was printed, and a single copy of it still survives, in possession of Mr. George Sumner, of Worcester. Unless "rum done it? " It was at this raising that Artemas Ward, whose active drilling of his regiment directly after passage of the Stamp Act had come to the ear of Royal Governor Bernard, received the revocation of his commission as colonel. The reply which the reduced officer sent the Governor that he had been twice honored is worthy of inscription on his monument - where it is. The writer, who was the testator's nephew and one of his executors, being consulted by his uncle about this legacy, advised him against it. His reply, characteristic of the whole life of the manÑthen eighty-eight years oldÑwill interest all who know him "I want the same kind of preaching kept up in Shrewsbury after I am dead and gone that there always had been, no matter how many rum-sellers and Roman Catholics come into town." And he brought his aged fist down upon the table at which we were sitting with a vigor that silenced all further advice of that kind. Middlesex Registry of Deeds, Book 25, Pages 123-124. Hiram Harlow adds here, "See p. 318 of Fay Genealogy, Orlin P. Fay, 1898." Memorials of Rev. Joseph Sumner, D.D. printed for private distribution by his grandson, George Sumner, of Worcester. Worcester Registry of Deeds, Book 892, page 266. The house in our times known as the birthplace of the poet Holmes. Gravel. This story, having been preserved only by tradition, and having passed for now four generations of men from one to another, has come to have slightly differing versions. The one above given is taken from " Reminiscences of Rev. George Allen, by F. P. Rice, l883." Another, differing in some detail, may be seen in "Drake's Historic Mansions and Fields of Middlesex," page 260. [See page 7.] McMasters says he cursed and swore, but on examination of the authorities he cites only shows that in his parley with Captain Wheeler, before he mounted the steps and commenced his speech to the people, the judge said he didn't care a damn for their bayonets. Hist. People of the U. S., Vol. I., p. 307. Since this statement, which was based upon examination of the published rolls of Massachusetts Volunteers, was in print I learned that William E. Shaw, of Shrewsbury, served as a second lieutenant in the First North Carolina Volunteers, otherwise called the Thirty-sixth United States Colored Troops, Colonel Edward Beecher. Major Harlow recruited a company in 1861, in Spencer Mass., where he was practicing law, for the Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, with which he was mustered into the United States service, and participated with that Regiment in its engagements at Roanoke Island, New Berne, Camden Court House, second Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. - EDITOR. Changed to Warren. In William T. Harlow's manuscript of the Harlow Genealogy, he writes, "In the hasty sketch of Shrewsbury which I wrote for the History of Worcester County published last year I was mistaken in attributing to Seth Pratt the origin of the tanning business in that town. Certain it is that he carried on the business at the place which he sold to Thomas Harlow. But there was a tannery here before his time. The proof of it is a deed of the place to Seth's father Elnathan Pratt from Luke Knowlton dated Feb. 2, 1773 which mentioned the tanyard and reserves the right to take water from the brook for use of the tannery as it had been usually taken before." With such favor of his jealous mistress as she is wont to bestow on her votaries who per intervolla interque alia pursue her. In 1872 Amherst gave him the honorary degree of A. M. Died New York City, 1936.
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