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Full text of "The Brayton homestead, 1714-1914"

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THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 




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THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

1714 — 1914 

A Sketch by 
Elizabeth Hitchcock Brayton 



Printed for Private Circulation 
1914 



nniGiuM YouKG LNivERsrrr 

PROVO, LTAII 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

1714 — 1914 



This is the place. Stand still, my steed, 
Let me review the scene. 
And summon from the shadowy Past, 
The forms that once have been. 

Longfellow. 



Within the archives of the Town Clerk's 
office in Somerset is preserved a chart, made 
about 1695, showing the first divisions of the 
land in Shawomet, an Indian name by wliich 
this territorv was first known to the white 
man. Two hundred years have passed since 
the deed of a part of this land, which today we 
term, with much affection, "The Brayton 
Homestead," came into the Brayton name; 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

yet how little do we know of its story or of the 
people who have tilled its soil! 

Although we are familiar with the history 
of New England, and the growth of her colo- 
nies, it seems necessary to note a few of its 
incidents that we may more readily trace the 
transfer of this land from the Indians to om* 
ancestors. 

After the outbreak of King Phihp 's War a 
succession of battles followed, and the blood 
of the red men, so thoroughly aroused, led 
them to deeds of most atrocious barbarity. 
King Phihp, the greatest of Indian warriors, 
was slain in the summer of 1676 and a few 
weeks later the most desperate of all Indian 
conflicts ended. The consequences of this 
war were disastrous and far-reaching. Six 
hundred of the inhabitants were either killed 
in battle or murdered by the enemy, and, in 
addition, an enormous debt was contracted, 
twelve towns were destroyed, and about six 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

hundred buildings, including tliirty-four dwell- 
ings in the town of Swansey, were burned. 
Only six houses now remained in that town, 
and so reduced was it that it was described as 
"desolate as a wilderness," and so near was 
the land in Shawomet about which this ar- 
ticle is written, that we must picture it near 
the route of travel during this fierce and 
bloody warfare. 

The General Court of Plymouth, reahzing 
the heavy debt incurred by tliis war, not only 
to the several towns so closelv connected with 
it, but to the government also, and not being 
able to meet the debt, issued the following 
order, made at its second session held on the 
tliirteenth dav of Julv 1677: — 

"Whereas the late war has been very chargeable to 
the several towns of this government, and many debts 
occasioned thereby are still due, this court, consider- 
ing that, by the good providence of Clod, there are sev- 
eral tracts of conquered lands, do therefore order, that 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Showmett lands and Assonett shall be sold to defray 
the present debts, and that all other such lands shall 
be either sold, if chapmen appear to buy them, within 
a year or two, so as to settle plantations thereon in an 
orderly way, to promote the pubUc worship of God, 
and our own common good; and the produce thereof 
shedl be divided to the several towns in this govern- 
ment, according to their different disbursements to- 
ward the aforesaid war, and what of the aforesaid 
lands shall then remain unsold shall be divided to 
every one of our towns, their part according to the 
rate aforementioned ; also, the committee to make 
sale as aforesaid shall give account of any their 
actings therein, to the next General Court after such 
their actings. " 

At a much earlier date, the Plymouth 
Government had promoted the organization 
of companies called Proprietors, who were 
given the power to buy lands and to sell and 
divide such lands among themselves by mu- 
tual agreement. These companies of Proprie- 
tors were required to elect one of their number 
to act as clerk to keep a book of records in 



8 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

which the various divisions of their lands must 
be recorded in the prescribed legal form. 
"These entries thus became permanent rec- 
ords of real estate, to be transmitted and re- 
main to posteritie. " To a company of hke 
Proprietors were sold the Shawomet lands, 
which we today bound on the south by Mount 
Hope Bay, on the west by Lees River and the 
town of Swansea, on the north by Dighton, 
and on the east by Taunton River, which ter- 
ritory includes the present town of Somerset. 

In Somerset will be found the original book 
of records of the Proprietors of the Shawomet 
Purchase upon whose title page we read as 
follows : — 

"The Book of Records of Shawomat Lands Belonging 

to ye 

Purchasars of ye said Shawomat Neck and ye 

Other Lands partaining to ye said 

Neck Caled The Out Let. 

This Book was Begun in ye yeare 1680. By 

Increase Robinson 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Clark ffor The Said Purchasars. 
The grand Deed of the sale of Showamett lands 
is committed to 
Capt John Willyames to be kept by him 
for the 
use of the Proprietors of sd lands 
so long as they see cause, 
Attest. 
Saml. Sprague Clerk. " 

The Proprietors divided the Shawomet Pur- 
chase into tliree parts or sections, namely: — 
The Little or Boston Neck, which em- 
braced, approximately, what is now known 
as Brayton Point Farm; the Great Neck, 
which extended northerly to the road now 
known as Read Street; and the Out Let 
Lands, which extended from this boundary, 
northerly to the Taunton land, now Dighton. 
At the first meeting of the Proprietors, held at 
Plymouth March 6, 1677, by a joint agreement 
it was voted that each of these divisions 
should be laid out into thirtv and one shares 



10 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

or lots, one of which should be in a convenient 
place for the use of the ministry. " As alsoe it 
is Agreed that three men be chose to be a 
Committee who shall have power to order 
such prudentialls as are necessary for the good 
of the whole Societie as to the setthng the 
bounds between theire lands and the lands of 
Swanzy in the best way they Can and to pro- 
cure an Artist to survey said lands to be lotted 
out and to lay them out as aforesaid ; making 
such allowance in quantity to such shares as 
shall not fall out to be so good land as the 
other shares are and also to lay out such Con- 
venient highways as on theire View and sur- 
vey shall to them seeme most convenient." 
Captain John Wilhams, Isaac Little, and 
Thomas Lincoln were chosen to serve on this 
committee and accordingly the divisions of 
the land were made, each lot in the Little 
Neck containing five acres, each in the Great 
Neck forty-five acres and each in the Out Let 



11 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

tliirty-six acres. This article calls your atten- 
tion to the lots numbered 11, 12, and 13, in the 
division of the Great Neck, and the chart 
shows the original owners of them, no one 
of whom became a permanent resident upon 
the land allotted to him. 

In 1692, the first transfer of these lots is 
recorded, when John WilHams, in consider- 
ation of one lot lying at a place called Labor 
in Vain, another lot in the Little Neck of 
Shawomet, and forty pounds of current money 
of New England, exchanged liis lots, num- 
bered 7 and 12 in the Great Neck, with 
Wilham Slead, who, about 1680, had come 
from Rhode Island and purchased land in the 
Out Let division. During tliis same year, 
1692, Isaac Little exchanged his original lot, 
numbered 8, and took in its place lot num- 
bered 12, which William Slead had recently 
acquired from John WiUiams. There are no 
deeds recorded of many of the transfers of the 



12 



First Road 




Taunton River 



Chart 
As described on page 12 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

lots in Shawomet. Mallachy Hollaway ap- 
parently did not claim liis original lot num- 
bered 10, for in 1698, after the Agents of the 
Proprietors had made a new sm*vey of the un- 
divided and unclaimed lands in the Great 
Neck, this lot came into the possession of 
Isaac Little and WiUiam Slead by allotment, 
the title being transferred from Mallachy 
Hollaway to them. In the same way Wilham 
Slead acquired the title to lot numbered 9, 
originally in the name of Edward Gray. 

The Shawomet records tell us that "The 
Seventh, Eighth, ninth and half the tenth 
Lott, All belonging to one man, are eighty 
two pole Broad at ye head to a stake & stones 
in the middle of ye head of ye tenth Lott at ye 
liighway from thence Ranging South Sixty 
three Degrees & a half Easterly to a heap of 
stones in ye middle of ye ffoot of ye said tenth 
lott near ye Beach." This must have been 
the farm owned by William Slead. "The 



13 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

other half of the tenth and ye eleventh & 
twelfth Lott all belonging to one man are 
fifty eight pole and a half Broad at the head 
to a white oak tree marked XH standing by 
ye Highway from thence ye range between 
the twelfth & the 13th lots runs South 
Degrees Easterly to a heap of stones by a 
tree marked at ye Beach." This was the 
farm belonging to Isaac Little. He also ac- 
quired in 1698, by allotment, the north half 
of lot 13 originally belonging to Richard 
Winslow and in 1711 John Briggs sold the 
south half of this lot 13 to WiUiam Slead. 

Isaac Little, who died in Marshfield Nov- 
ember 24, 1699, left no will, but in the dis- 
position of his estate in 1712 this land in 
Shawomet was assigned to his sons Nathan- 
iel and Wilham Little. In 1713, Nathaniel 
Little of Plymouth, mariner, made his brother 
Wilham his attorney and at an early date 
William Little proceeded to sell their farm in 



14 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Shawomet to Preserved Brayton of Ports- 
mouth, Rhode Island, grandson of Francis 
Brayton the pioneer of that name in America. 
The first definite agreement in regard to 
his pm*chase of this farm of one hundred and 
thirty-eight acres from Wilham Little was 
embodied in the articles drawn up and signed 
July 21, 1714, the legible part of which reads 
as follows: — 

Articles of Agreement made & concluded this 
21st day of July Anno Domini 1714 between William 
Little of Plimouth in ye County of Plimouth of y« 
one part and preserved Brayton of Portsmouth in 
Rhoad Island on the other part Witnesseth that the 
said William Little doth Covenant and Bind and 
oblidge himself to give or pass : On or before the first 
day of march Next ensueing a suffecient Lawfull deed 
and Conveyance of a certain ffarm or Tract of land 
lyeing in Shawomett in y'^ Township of Swanzey lye- 
ing between ]VP Slads farm whereon he now Dwells 
and M"^ Daniel Wilbores Containing about one hun- 
dred and Thirty seven (or Thirty Eight) acres and of 
one share or Right in the Eighty acres of land layd 
out for the Use of a minister or Publick use of the Pro- 



15 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

prietty in s'^ Shawomet to y« true performance of the 
above coven* on his part the s'^ Little doth bind him- 
self & his heires in the penal sum of fifteen Hundred 
pounds to be forfeited on failure therein & payd to the 
s'^ Brayton his heires executors or Adminitr^: And 
the said Preserved Brayton on the other part doth 
Covenant bind & oblige himself his heires executors & 
Adm" to pay or cause to be payd & delivered unto the 
said William Little his heires exect' Adm- or assignes 
One Black Stallion agreed for and valued at Twenty 
pounds money and fifty pounds money three days 
from the date hereof & Thirty pounds more within 14 
dayes from the date hereof and One Hundred pound 
on or before the Middle of October next And one 
hundred pounds more on or before the Twenty fifth 
day of December next if said Brayton Can Possible 
get s^ Hundred pounds or hyre the same on or before 
that time if not then to pay on or before the the first 
day of march next ensueing and allso on s^ first day of 
march to pay s'l Little three Hundred & ninety pounds 
unless sd Little shall then be deceased and uncapable 
of giveing Deeds as aboves^ & niether he s^ Little nor 
his heires executors nor Adminst" shall pass a Legall 
Deed as afi'ores'^ In which case it is Muttually agreed 
that sd Little or his heires Executrs or Adm" shall 
Pay to s'' Brayton or his heires All the moneyes that 
s^ Little or any by or under him shall Receive of said 



16 



THE BRAYTOiN HOMESTEAD 

Brayton by virtue of these presents on or before the 

s** first day of March with Interest for the same 

& shall 

after these presents 

And it is further agreed if s'^ Brayton pay the ninety 
pounds before mentioned on the first day of have 

to be conbinned in bond a year longer upon Interest) 
And after doth covenant & bind himself his 

heires ex" (at the interest now ing said deed) on 

or before s'^ first day of March next upon suflFe- 

cient bonds & security for the paym* of three hundred 
to said Little his heires execut" & Adm"^^ viz* 
fifty pounds each year from thence on the first day of 
March till s'^ three hundred pounds be fully payd To 
the true performance of have said covenant & 

obligation on his part. The s*^ Brayton doth bind & 
obldg himself his heires executors & Adm" in the 
penal sum of fifteen Hundred pounds forfeited on 
failure therein and payd to s'* Little his heires execu- 
tors & Adminis". 

In witness whereof the partyes to these presents 
have Interchangeably set their hands and scales the 
day and year aboves'*. 
Signed sealed and delivered] William Little (S) 

In presence of us ( Preserved Brayton (S) 

William Anthony 
Mathew howard 



17 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

In one disposition of the land in Rhode 
Island owned by Preserved Brayton and 
dated August 5, 1714, he is called "of Ports- 
mouth," while in another, dated November 
13, 1714, he is termed "late of Portsmouth." 
These references certify to us, within a few 
months, the time he estabUshed his residence 
in Massachusetts. 

The terms of agreement between Wilham 
Little and Preserved Brayton proved satis- 
factory and the deed, of which the following 
is a copy, was signed and transferred on March 
2, 1714/5:— 

To all People to whom these presents shall come 
Greeting Know ye that I William Little of Plimouth 
in the County of Plimouth for & in Consideration of 
the full and Just sum of nine hundred & ninety pounds 
to me in hand well and truely payd by Preserved bray- 
ton late of Portsmouth on Rhoad Island now of Swan- 
zey in the County of Bristol y^ receipt whereof is 
hereby acknowledged & the s"^ Brayton his heires & 
assignes for ever Discharged have bargained and sold 



18 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

and by these p'sents Do grant Enfeoff Convey and 
Confirm unto the s'* Preserved Brayton his heires and 
assigns forever all that a certaine ffarm or Tract of 
land lyeing and being in Shawomet in the Township 
of Swanzey Containing in the whole about one Hun- 
dred Thirty seven or Thirty eight Acres more or less 
being bounded on y'' East by Taunton River on the 
North by the lands of William Slead on the south and 
west by the Roads or wayes Excepting halfe a forty 
five accre lott of William Sleade contained within s"^ 
boundaryes the granted premises containing more 
perticularly two forty five acre lotts being in Number 
the Eleventh & Twelfth Lotts in the first Divission 
in the great neck Allso the one half a forty five acre 
Lot being the Tenth in number Adjoyning to the 
afores"* Eleventh lott being the southerly half as it is 
now divided And allso the one halfe of forty eight 
acre lott being y® Thirteenth lott in the afores^ divi- 
sion yet undivided in partnership with William Slead 
and allso a small lott or Addetion of about three acres 
more or less Included within the Bounderyes of s"^ 
ffarm Lyeing within or below said High as may more 
fully appear upon the Records kept for the Proprie- 
ty of s^ Shawomett Purchass To which these presents 
have Speciall Refference for the more perticular 
bounds of s"" lotts of land Together with all buildings 
ffences orchards & all profits priviledges & appur*"' 



19 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

allso one share or Right in the eighty acres in s*^ Shaw- 
omet layd out for the use of the ministry or use of the 
Proprietors in s"* Shawomet To Have and to Hold all 
the said Tennement Messuage or farm above granted 
with all the s*^ Appurtenances & s** Share in said 
Eighty Acres unto him the s'^ Preserved Brayton his 
heires & assignes forever To his and their sole proper 
use benefit and behoofF forever free & cleare and 
clearely acquited & Dyscharged off and from all other 
and former gifts grants bargaines sales Titles Troubles 
Charges and Encumbrances What so ever and I 
the said William Little do covenant Grant and agree 
to & with the s<^ Preserved Brayton his heires and as- 
signes that I have good right full power and lawfull 
authoritie to grant bargain & confirm the above said 
premises with the Appurtenances unto the said Bray- 
ton his heires and assignes forever And Do Warrant & 
Engage to maintaine the sale above and to defend the 
s*^ Preserved Brayton his heires and assigns in his & 
theire quiet & peaceable emjoyment of the premises 
Against the Leagall Claimes & Demands of all persons 
whatsoever In witness whereof I the said WilUam 
Little have hereunto set my Hand and seal this first 

day of March Anno Domini 1714 

15 
Memorandon the word (by Preserved Brayton late 

of Portsmouth in Rhoad Island now of Swanzey in the 



20 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

County of Bristol) between the fourth & fifth lines of 
this Instrument were enterd before signeing 
Signed, sealed & delivered 

in presence of us William Little (S) 

Ephraim Cole Jun"" 
Lemuel Little 



The successive changes of ownersliip of the 
lots contained within these bounds, and also 
the phrases employed in these articles of agree- 
ment in which Isaac Little and his son WilUam 
are caUed "of Marshfield" or "of Plymouth," 
lead us to beheve that heretofore no dwelUng 
had been erected upon the land, and that the 
soil had received little if any tillage. We do 
not know how much of this land was over- 
grown with forests which Preserved Brayton 
cleared away, yet we can rightly judge that 
many acres were covered with rocks similar to 
those in some of the adjoining fields today, 
and which are of a peculiar formation of spe- 
cial interest to the geologist; instead of the or- 



21 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

dinary stone formation, these rocks, called 
conglomerates or pudding-stone, are composed 
of small stones held together by fine rock 
material which has hardened into a sort of 
cement. "Their presence in certain places is 
a lost page in Geology. " 

While we are uncertain of the exact date 
when the first house was built, we find evidence 
of its foundation upon which site has been 
placed a stone, presumably the old stepping 
stone of the original dwelling. "The Great 
Room," "in the Southeast corner," "the 
chamber over said rooms," "the great door," 
"through the entry and up the stairs to the 
chamber overhead, " " to cook in the Kitchen, " 
and "store meat and sauce in the cellar," 
form for us only a fragmentary description of 
that first house upon the hill to which Pre- 
served Brayton brought his wife and two 
older children, and which was the birthplace 
of his younger children. 



22 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

In 1724, Preserved Brayton enlarged his 
farm by purchasing of WiUiam Slade the 
south half of the original lot 13 and half the 
roadway between the 13th and 14th lots, thus 
making the whole of the Homestead Farm 
about one hundred and sixty-eight acres. The 
deed of tliis sale reads as follows : — 



To all People to whom this Present Deed of sale 
shall come I William Slade of Showomock Purchase in 
ye County of bristol in ye province of the masachusits 
bay in newengland yeoman sendeth greeting &c Know 
ye that I ye sd William Slade for and in consideration 
of the sum of three Hundred & thirty pounds in Cur- 
rant money of said newengland to me in hand well & 
truly Paid by Preserved Brayton of sd Showomock 
Purchase in the County and Province aforesd in sd 
newengland yeoman the Recept whereof I do hereby 
acknowledg and ye sd Preserved Brayton his heirs exe- 
cutors & administrators hereof and of every patr & 
persel hereof acquited & Discharged Have & by these 
Presents Do for myself and my heirs fully freely and 
absolutely Give Grant Bargain sell ahne enfeofe and 
Confirm unto him ye sd Preserved Brayton his heirs 



23 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

and assigns forever one half of ye thirtenth Lot ye 
whole Lot being forty five acors in it and a high way of 
four Rods wide Lying between ye Aforesd thirtenth 
Lot and the fourtenth Lot being in sd Showomock in 
ye County afore the above sd Lands are bounded as 
fully appears in ye Book of Records Keep for ye Pro- 
prietors of sd Showomock to which these Presents 
have Reference to for bounds. 

To have and to hold the above Land with all ye fen- 
sing timber wood and all what so is on sd Lands with 
all and singular ye Rights Priviledges and appurte- 
nances thereunto belonging to him ye sd Preserved 
Brayton his heirs & assigns forever to his and there a- 
lone Proper use benifit & behoof forever and I ye sd 
William Slade Do by these Presents avouch myself to 
be at ye time of the ensealing and til ye Delivery of 
these presents to have a good and Lawful title to ye 
above Demised Premises and do by these Presents 
bind & oblige myself & my heirs to warrant ye sd De- 
mised Premises unto the above sd Preserved brayton 
his heirs & assigns in the quiet and Peasable injoyment 
of the same to Defend against ye Lawfull Clames and 
Demands of all Persons whatsoever. 

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand 

and seal this fifth Day of August one thousand seven 
hundred & twenty four and in ye eleventh year of his 

majesties Reign George King of Great Britten &c 



24 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Signed, sealed & Delivered William Slad (S) 
in ye Presents of us 
Abraham Anthony 
William Anthony 

The total purchase price of the farm, as 
paid by Preserved Bray ton, was, therefore, 
tliirteen hundred and twenty pounds. As- 
suming that the colonial pound (whose value 
today would be about three and one tliird 
dollars) was used in these transactions, the 
amount paid for the Homestead Farm would 
be about forty-four hundred dollars of our 
money. 

Preserved Brayton was a true lover of the 
soil, and for forty-seven years after his re- 
moval to Swansea, as we shall now call it, was 
spared to enjoy the fruits of liis labors upon 
the place he termed the Homestead Farm, all 
unconscious of adopting a name that would 
be perpetuated for so many generations. At 
the time of his death in Swansea on May 21, 



25 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

1761, Preserved Bray ton was an extensive 
landholder, as the following copy of his will 
proves to us: — 

I, Preserved Brayton of Swansey in the County of 
Bristol and Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New 
England Yoeman being infirm in Body but of a well 
and sound desposing Mind and Memory, God be 
thanked I do make and ordain this my Last Will and 
Testament in the following Manner and Form Viz — 

Imprimis I will that all my just Debts and fu- 
neral Charges be paid by my Executor hereafter 
named. 

Item. I give and bequeath to my Grand Daughter 
Ehzabeth Bobbinson Daughter of my son John Bray- 
ton deceased the Sum of one thousand pounds Bills 
of Credit of Bhode Island Currency old tenor five hun- 
dred pounds one year after my decease and five hun- 
dred pounds two years after my decease to be paid by 
my son Israel Brayton I also give her a certain piece 
of land lying in Freetown in the Freemen's Purchase 
as by deed may appear Containing fifty acres, to her 
& her assigns forever. 

Item. I give and bequeath to my grandson Pre- 
served Brayton son of my son Stephen Brayton de- 
ceased a certain Farm commonly known by the name 



26 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

of Rock River Farm lying in Rehobotli where my son 
Stephen did dwell bounded as followeth ; beginning at 
a Great Rock a little westerly of the Mill, then west- 
erly a strait line to a stone stuck upon the Ditch on the 
west side of the High Way, from thence on a strait 
line to a cedar stuck in the Marsh and then by Palmer 
River, southerly till it cometh to Simon Rurr's land 
and then easterly by Rurr's land to the High Way and 
so across said Way and by a lane that leads from said 
Way to John Kingsley's land and from thence by his 
land to the south end of the Mill Dam and from said 
dam to the Great Rock first mentioned with all the 
buildings and priveledges to the same belonging with 
a certain wood lot which I bought of Samuel Rullock, 
to him his heirs & assigns forever, he delivering to his 
Mother two loads of salt hay every yeeir during her 
widowhood. 

Item. I give and devise to my grandson Stephen 
Rrayton son of my son Stephen Rrayton deceased, a 
certain piece of land which I bought of John Rarney 
together with a piece of land lying on the west side of 
the highway from a stone stuck in the ditch on a 
strait line to a cedar stake stuck on the Marsh and so 
by the River as it runs to a lot of land formerly John 
Miller's, easterly to the highway, so along the way to 
a stone stuck in the ground, thence across the way to 
a stone stuck in the ground, from thence on a strait 



27 



THE BRAYTOX HO.AIESTEAD 

line to a Great Rock near the mill and from said Rock 
to the south end of the dam and by the River untill 
it Cometh to Aarin Kingsleys land and so by said 
Kingsleys Land untill it cometh to Rounds land, and 
so by Rounds land down to the highway, so by said 
way to a stone set in the ground together with the 
house and mill and dam and all the preveledges to 
support the mill and all other preveledges to the same 
belonging to him his heirs and assigns forever, he de- 
livering to his mother one load of salt hay every yea r 
during her widowhood. 

Item. I give and bequeath equally to be divided 
to my four grandchildren the children of my son 
Stephen Rrayton deceased and to each of their heirs 
and assigns forever three lots of land I bought of 
Joseph Allen lying in Swansey as by deed may appear. 

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Baulston 
Brayton his heirs and assigns forever all that my farm 
lying in Smithfield in the Rhoad Island Colony where 
he now dwells which I bought of James Angell as more 
at large appears by deed together with all priviledges 
to the same belonging he paying his assigned legacies 
and I also give him one thousand dollars and three 
thousand pounds in bills of credit Old tenor of the 
Colony of Rhoad Island; and he shall pay to my 
grandson Stephen Brayton two thousand and four 
hundred pounds in like bills of old tenor Rhoad Island 



28 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

currency when he cometh to age of twenty one years 
and my son Baulston shall have the use of my grand- 
son Stephen's land and mill untill he cometh to the 
age of twenty one years. 

Item. My will is that if my grandson Stephen 
should die before he cometh to the age of twenty one 
years or with out issue his brother Preserved shall 
have his portion. 

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Israel Bray- 
ton and to his heirs and assigns forever all this my 
Homestead Farm and all the priviledges to the same 
belonging and all my hving stock and farming tools 
and tackUng and my negro man CufFe and negro man 
Ned and negro woman Floris and negro boy Moses; 
I also give him all my farm in Swansea in the Purchase 
of Sewomit between the land of James Luther and the 
land where John Reed did dwell with all the privi- 
ledges to the same belonging to him his heirs and as- 
signs forever. I also give him all my moveable estate 
in my house excepting what I shall otherwise despose 
of in this my last will and testament and three hun- 
dred and ninety two dollars which Samuel Lee Jr. 
oweth me upon note. 

Item. I give to my daughter Content Gardner one 
silver Tankard six silver porringers and twelve silver 
spoons and eight hundred dollars, to her or her legal 
representatives. 



29 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

lUm. I give to my several grand-daughters ten 
dollars apiece that is to say my executor shall pay to 
each and ever>" one of my grand-daughters as they 
come to the age of eighteen years and if any of them 
should die before they come to the age of eighteen 
years my will is that the surviN-ing sisters of the same 
family should have their part. 

Item. I give all my apparel equally to my sons 
namely Baulston and Israel Brayton. 

I also give all the rest and residue of my estate to my 
three children equally that is to say to Baulston 
Bra>-ton. Israel Bra>-ton and Content Gardner and to 
their heirs and assigns forever. 

Finally I do make constitute and ordain my two 
sons Baulston Bra\i:on and Israel Brayton to be the 
sole executors of this my last will and testament. In 
witness whereof I the said Preserved Brayton have 
set mv hand and seal this seventh dav of December 
Anno Domini 1759. 

Joshua Mason \ r»_ j t> ^ 

f Preserved Brayton 

Men Chase / witnesses 
Russell Mason ) 

From this we readilv leam whv Israel, the 
youngest son, inherited the Homestead Farm. 
Preserved 's wife and their children Ann and 



30 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

David were not living; their sons John and 
Stephen had also died, leaving their famiUes 
estabhshed elsewhere ; their daughter Content 
had married and moved awav ; their son Baul- 
ston was alreadv a resident of Smithfield, 
Rhode Island; while Israel, their youngest 
child, was still a young man and had not left 
Swansea, although he had married and may 
not have hved on the farm at that time. 

Israel Bravton, son of Preserved and Con- 
tent Brayton, was born on the Homestead 
Farm, October 13, 1727, and on April 19, 
1752, married Mary Perry, who, tradition 
claims, was a relative of Ohver Hazard Perrs*. 
Israel, like liis father, was a holder of lands 
and a tiller of the soil. In addition to the 
Homestead Farm, he acquired other property 
in Swansea, including a shipyard and land he 
purchased in 1766 from Samuel Lee. In 1759 
he bought from Richard and Susanna Gifford 
a large farm of one hundred and eighty acres 



31 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

in Tiverton, which, at the time of his death, 
he gave to his son Baulston Brayton. 

Israel had profited by his father's constant 
toil of almost half a century. Land that had 
been so thickly covered with boulders had 
been transformed into productive acreage, the 
forests had been cleared of the underbrush, 
the growth of centuries, and the improvements 
commenced by the father were continued by 
the son. 

The births of the children of Israel and 
Mary (Perry) Brayton are found upon the 
Swansea records and their marriages may be 
of interest to those familiar with the cogno- 
mens of that town, showing, as they do, the 
uniting of many of its prominent and famihar 
names. Content married Captain Nathan 
Read, son of Wilham; John, born April 12, 
1762, married Sarah Bowers, daughter of 
Phihp; Mary married Phihp Bowers, brother 
of Sarah; Bethany became the first wife of 



32 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Dr. John Winslow ; Baulston married Mercy 
Slade, daughter of John; David and Perry 
died in their youth ; w hile no records have been 
found in regard to the cliildren Israel and 
Preserved. 

Israel Bray ton married, for his second 
wife, Mrs. Mary Read Bowers, (sister of 
Nathan Read) mother of Sarah and Pliilip 
Bowers mentioned above, and their children, 
Nathan Read and Perry Bowers (twins) and 
Nancy, died before reaching their majority. 

It is impossible to chronicle the events in 
the daily hfe of Israel Bray ton who died, pre- 
sumably upon the Homestead Farm, in the 
year 1791. His widow, Mrs. Mary (Read 
Bowers) Brayton, married, for her tliird hus- 
band, Ebenezer Dean of Taunton. 

By will dated April 13, 1784, Israel Bray- 
ton gives, "To my son John Brayton and 
to his heirs and assigns forever all this my 
homestead farm with all the priviledges to 



33 



THE BRAYTON HOxMESTEAD 

the same belonging with two thirds of all my 
living stock he paying what I do order liim 
to pay in this will," and "I also give my said 
wife the use and improvement of one third 
part of all my real estate." In 1792, Mary 
Brayton, widow of Israel, gave to John Bray- 
ton all right to her tliird in the Homestead 
Farm. 

The hfe of John Bravton held more diversi- 
fied interests than those of liis parents or 
grandparents. Before entering his teens the 
atmosphere was filled with the spirit of unrest, 
and although he was just tliirteen when the 
War of the Revolution broke out, and there- 
fore too young to enlist, he could not help 
being interested in the subject uppermost in 
the hearts of the people. Again the Home- 
stead Farm was on the route of travel. The 
fort, called Fort Barton, built on Tiverton 
Heights, commanded a Avide-spread view of 
the British stationed at Bristol Ferry, and 



34 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

was a rendezvous for the American troops, ten 
thousand of w horn were quartered there at one 
time. Many of the troops, on their way to 
Tiverton, crossed the Taunton River at 
Slade's ferry and thus came very near the 
home of Israel Brayton. One night a company 
camped not far distant and the next morning, 
in fining their canteens, drew the well dry at 
the Homestead Farm. One canteen, acciden- 
tally left, is now in existence and is in the pos- 
session of one of the present owners of the 
Homestead Farm, the great-great-grandson 
of Israel. 

The war brought great deprivation to the 
inhabitants of the towns round about and, in 
1779, there was a great scarcity of provisions, 
and these sold at very high prices. The 
following winter the intense cold caused much 
suffering and for two months the ice completely 
locked the rivers and bay. The price of 
wood advanced to twenty dollars per cord and 



35 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

corn sold at four silver dollars a bushel. It 
was during this winter that John Brayton, 
not yet eighteen years of age, "Loaded wood 
upon sleds at his farm and with oxen drew the 
same in a direct line upon the ice to Newport. " 

We find that his youthful interest in the 
Revolutionary War continued and when only 
eighteen years old he enhsted, on August 2, 
1780, in Captain Peleg Peck's Company of 
Colonel Thomas Carpenter's regiment. 

On September 21, 1782, John Brayton 
married Sarah Bowers, the daughter of Pliilip 
Bowers, a hneal descendant of three of the 
passengers who came to America on the first 
voyage of the Mayflower in 1620. The rec- 
ords of the eleven children of John and Sarah 
(Bowers) Brayton were as follows: — (1). 
Mary married, as his second wife. Dr. John 
Winslow. They had ten children, one of whom 
became the fu-st wife of Jonathan Slade and 
lived upon the farm adjoining the Brayton 



36 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Homestead. (2). Sarah married Benjamin 
Clark Cornell. Their daughter married 
Charles Hull Norton, and hved in Oliio. (3) . 
WiUiam Bowers, born February 2, 1788, was 
drowned at sea January 16, 1805. (4). Nancy 
Jaret Bowers became the second wife of David 
Anthony. Their cliildren were Lauretta Bish- 
op Wheaton, James Monroe, and Frederic 
Augustus Anthony. (5). Israel Brayton born 
July 29, 1792, mentioned later. (6). Betsey 
W. died in the fifth year of her age. (7). 
Content died in Fall River, February 6, 1872, 
in her seventv-fifth vear. She never married. 
(8). Stephen married, first, Mary H. Gray 
and, second, her sister, Abby Gray. His chil- 
dren Mary H. and Wilham G. died in infancy, 
and his son, John Gray Brayton, died in CaU- 
fornia in 1903, unmarried. (9). John Jr. 
died in his youth. (10). CaroUne was ten 
years old at the time of her death. (11). Al- 
mira married Captain Jesse Chace. They had 



37 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

three children: EHzabeth Collins Chace, who 
married Anson B. Ives; John Brayton Chace, 
who died young; and Almira Fehcia Agnes 
Chace, who died in Newport, R. I. January 13, 
1898, unmarried. 

In 1790, the town of Somerset was set apart 
from Swansea so that the births of the three 
oldest children are found upon the Swansea 
records and those of the younger ones occurred 
in the town of Somerset. We have now located 
the Brayton Homestead in three different 
places, namely: Shawomet, which was con- 
quered from the Indians diu-ing King Pliihp 's 
War; Swansea (incorrectly spelled Swanzey 
and Swansey, as it was named for the town of 
Swansea in Wales) to which Shawomet had 
been annexed ; and Somerset, its present name, 
which was set apart from Swansea in 1790, and 
which, in the sketch of Somerset by Avery P. 
Slade, we are told was named in honor of Mrs. 
Jarathmael Bowers, the home of whose girl- 



38 




< 



!> 



::4 



THE BRAYTON HO.MESTEAD 

hood was Somerset Square, Boston. 

John Brayton, finding the dweUing of his 
parents and grandparents inadequate, de- 
cided to erect a new home for his growing 
family. The site was selected and the pres- 
ent house was built about 1796. Although 
not commanding as extensive a view of the 
Bay, it was more accessible to the ferry and 
highway which had been opened; yet we 
should remember that the first road was upon 
the crest of the hill and therefore the first 
entrance must have been from the west so 
that the original house was equally conven- 
ient in its location. 

The plates give us an idea of the exterior, 
and within we find the arrangement of the 
rooms similar to other dwelhngs of that 
period. We do not know just how long the 
original house stood upon the liill, but early 
in the last century a part of it was moved 
near the new house and can he remembered bv 



39 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

many of us familiar with the farm in later 
years. 

In 1802, eighteen years after the establish- 
ment of the Methodist Church in America, 
one was organized in the southern part of 
Somerset, and in 1804 a chapel was built near 
the site of the church now standing at the 
corner of Read Street and Brayton Point 
Road. Although not one of the seven original 
founders of that church, John Brayton was 
the first person to join after its organization 
and he became one of its most useful and in- 
fluential members. He contributed generously 
to its support and extended cordial hospi- 
tahty to the itinerant ministers. At the Cen- 
tenary Celebration of that church held March 
2, 1902, as a memorial to John Brayton, liis 
grandchildren and great-grandchildren gave to 
the church the sum of fifteen hundred dollars, 
the income to be used for the support of the 
gospel. 



40 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

John Braytoii did not round out the allotted 
three score years and ten, but died March 
12, 1829, in his sixty-seventh year. Although 
he did not extend the Homestead Farm be- 
yond the bounds of his inheritance, we find 
from the inventory of liis estate that the area 
of tliis farm was one hundred and seventy- 
five acres, a difference of about seven acres 
which may have been adjusted in the more 
accurate survey of more modern times. We 
also learn, that not only had he taken interest 
in the cultivation of the soil, but also in rais- 
ing live stock on a small scale and, at the time 
of his death, had thirty-four head of cattle 
and sixty sheep in addition to several horses. 
The farm was well equipped with tools, the 
stores in the cellar were still abundant after 
the long winter, and the house was well fur- 
nished with what are now considered choice 
antiques. 

John Brayton left no will, so that his widow 



41 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

and children acquired the Homestead Farm 
by the right of inheritance. We assume that 
the son Stephen assisted liis mother in the 
oversight of the farm until his death in 1832, 
after which the responsibiHty fell upon the 
son Israel. BetAveen December 1833 and 
March 1837, the heirs of John Brayton, ex- 
cept Sarah his widow, sold their interests in 
the Homestead Farm, one to the other, wliich 
ultimately came into the possession of their 
brother Israel and here he estabhshed liis 
residence with his wife and cliildren. After 
the death of Sarah Bowers Brayton, widow 
of John, wliich occurred on the farm August 
17, 1843, Israel Brayton became its sole pro- 
prietor. 

On August 19, 1813, Israel Brayton had 
married Kezia Anthony, the daughter of 
David and Submit Wheeler Anthony. The 
marriage took place at the Anthony Home- 
stead on Lees River Avenue, Somerset, which 



42 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

was bought about 1703 by her paternal ances- 
tor, WilKam Anthony, whose wife Mary was 
sister of Content Coggeshall, the wife of 
Preserved Brayton, the first occupant of the 
Bray ton Homestead. 

The nine children of Israel and Kezia 
Anthony Brayton were as follows : — 

(1). Mary, who married 1st. Major Brad- 
ford Durfee, 2nd. Rev. Jeremiah S. Young. 
She had one son, Bradford MatthcAV Ghaloner 
Durfee, who died, unmarried, in liis tliirtieth 

m 

vear. 

(2). Wilham Bowers, who married Hannah 
T. Lawton, of Tiverton. Their cliildren were 
Julia Washburn, George Anthony, Mary, and 
W ilham Bowers Brayton. 

(3). Nancy Jarrett Bowers, who married 
Daniel Chace of Somerset. Their only child, 
Charles Bradford, died in his youth. 

(4). Ehzabeth Anthony, who married Rev. 
Roswell Dwight Hitchcock, a native of Maine. 



43 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Their cliildren were Harriet Washburn, Ros- 
well Dwiglit, Mary Brayton, and Bradford 
Washburn Hitchcock. 

(5). David Anthony, who married Nancy 
R. Jenckes of Fall River. Their cliildren 
were Nannie Jenckes, David Anthony, John 
Jenckes, Ehzabeth Hitchcock, and Dana 
D wight Brayton. 

(6). John Summerfield, who married Sarah 
J. Tinkham of Middleborough. Their children 
were Mary Jarette, Harriet Hitchcock, and 
John Summerfield Bravton. 

(7). Israel Perry, who married Parthenia 
Gardner of Somerset. They had two cliildren. 
Their oldest daughter, Nancy Jarrett Bowers, 
is the only lineal descendant of Preserved 
Brayton, of this generation, who can claim the 
Brayton Homestead as the place of her birth. 
Their other daughter, Sarah Chaloner, was 
born in Swansea. 

(8). Hezekiah Anthony, who married 



44 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Caroline E. Slade of Somerset. Their cliildren 
were Caroline Slade, Abby Slade, William 
Lawton Slade, Israel, Mary Durfee, Stanley, 
Arthur Perry, Margaret Lee, Dorothy, and 
Katharine Bray ton. 

(9). Sarah Submit, unmarried, who is 
the only surviving cliild of Israel and Kezia 
Anthony Bray ton. 

During the first years of their residence in 
Somerset the sons in tiu^n assisted their father 
in carrying on the farm. Within a short time, 
however, they formed business interests else- 
where and one after another left home, even- 
tually locating in Fall River, except Israel 
Perry who returned to the farm where he re- 
sided for a few years after his marriage. 

Israel Brayton, although now following the 
occupation of his forefathers, did not reUn- 
quish all interest in the associations formed 
during his residence in Swansea and Fall 
River. He continued his membership in the 



45 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Central Congregational Church of that city 
and was one of its most regular attendants, 
even after his removal to Somerset. After a 
useful and honorable hfe he died upon the 
Homestead Farm November 5, 1866. The 
following is a copy of an article printed in the 
Fall River News November 9, 1866: — 

"The funeral services of Israel Brayton, Esq., took 
place yesterday forenoon, at his late residence in 
South Somerset. There was a very large attendance 
of relatives, neighbors and friends, from this city, 
Somerset and other places. The religious services at 
the house, which were very appropriate and impres- 
sive, were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Hyde, of the 
Methodist church. South Somerset, and the Rev. Dr. 
Thm-ston, of this city, of whose church Mr. Brayton 
was a member. The Rev. Dr. Hitchcock, of New 
York, a son-in-law of Mr. Brayton, offered prayer at 
the grave. It was a scene long to be remembered, as 
the family and friends gathered around the grave on 
that serene and most beautiful Indian summer morn- 
ing, and united with bowed heads and sympathizing 
hearts in the simple, heartfelt, and deeply impressive 
prayer which was there offered ; and we could but feel 



46 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

how grand a lesson is taught us when a good man is 
called from earth to heaven; a man who has filled the 
measure of his days in his Master's service, and whose 
memory will be cherished by his friends and kindred 
as among the best of earthly treasures. " 

Many changes occurred in the fifteen years 
wliich foIIoAved the death of Israel Brayton. 
For over one hundred and fifty years, from 
1724 when the last lot was added to the farm 
until 1875, no additions had been made to its 
acreage, neither had any been taken away. 
The farm extended from the highway on the 
west to the river on the east, unbroken by any 
roads save by the cart paths of their own 
making. 

With more modern times the advancement 
from a ferry boat to a bridge proved necessary 
and the first structure of its kind across Taun- 
ton River, since known as Slade's Ferry 
Bridge, was planned. The site chosen for its 
western terminus was upon the Homestead 



47 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Farm, midway of its eastern boundary. The 
result was a combination bridge, with the sec- 
tion for traffic and pedestrians below, while 
on top ran the steam cars of the Old Colony 
Railroad. This bridge was completed and 
opened to the pubhc on January 4, 1876. 

The approaches to it from the south, the 
north, and the northwest, all new roads, neces- 
sarily had to cross the Homestead Farm, and 
for their construction two hundred and twenty 
rods, one hundred and sixty-one rods, and two 
hundred and two rods, respectively, were sold 
to the town of Somerset, the last forming a 
part of the road now called Brayton Avenue. 
Seven hundred rods were also sold to the rail- 
road for its extension toward its former ter- 
minus at the south ferry, and upon this land 
the railroad estabhshed a small station, 
called Brayton. 

Upon the farm new fences and walls were 
built; many trees were set out, including the 



48 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

row of stately elms extending from the house 
to the bridge ; some of the old buildings were 
taken down; and other incidental improve- 
ments made. 

Kezia Anthony Brayton, widow of Israel, 
was the last of the family to reside perma- 
nently upon the Homestead Farm, where she 
died on October 24, 1880, in her eighty-ninth 
year. At that time she was said to be the 
oldest person in the town of Somerset. 

For some time after her death the house- 
hold furnisliings were not disturbed, and 
during several summers the family continued 

to make the Homestead Farm the scene of 
occasional re-unions, reluctant to give up all 
associations with the old home. The last of 
those gatherings occurred in the summer of 
1889, and some time afterward the rooms, so 
long unoccupied, were dismantled of their 
treasures, which were distributed among the 
children and grandcliildren. A few of the ar- 



49 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

tides were — the Brayton family Bible dated 
1772, which was given to Sarah Brayton (wife 
of John) by her uncle Benjamin Bowers; the 
Pembroke table ; the wooden cradle, with its 
hood marked "M. R. 1728," from the Read- 
Bowers line ; the old tall clock, which had for 
generations marked the passing of time; 
great-great-grandmother Dean's writing desk; 
the carved high four-poster ; the Read pepper 
box; several mirrors and innumerable chairs 
of antique designs ; the old brass andirons ; the 
Revolutionary canteen, previously mentioned; 
and many other choice pieces, each with its 
history. 

Since that time, the house has been occu- 
pied by the farmer, to whom the care of the 
farm is entrusted. 

Israel Brayton left no will and this farm 
was not divided for thirteen years after the 
death of his widow. During that time, how- 
ever, the sons Wilham, David, and Israel 



50 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Perry % or their heirs, sold their interests to 
other members of the family. By will, the 
daughter Mary, who died in 1891, left two- 
eighths of the Homestead Farm to her brother 
Hezekiah, the same to go to liis sons Israel 
and Arthur after his death, and her remaining 
one-eighth to her brother John. 

In 1893 the first division of the farm was 
made among those in whose names, either by 
direct inheritance, by purchase, or by bequest, 
the property still remained. At that time the 
dividing hnes were definitely defined and each 
owner acquired title to a specified part, which 
was partitioned, not by equal acreage but by 
valuation. 

After the death of the daughter Ehzabeth 
Hitchcock, her inheritance became the property 
of her son Bradford, who some years after- 
ward sold it to liis cousin Stanley Brayton; 
and after liis death his parents deeded it to his 
brother Arthur, the present owner. After the 



51 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

death of the son John his three-eighths inter- 
est, which included the northeast section of the 
Homestead Farm with the buildings thereon, 
came into the possession of liis son John, its 
present owner. The son Hezekiah deeded his 
part inherited from his father to his son Israel, 
to whom the daughter Sarah also transferred 
her interest in the farm. 

Thus we see that the Homestead Farm, al- 
though still belonging to the Bray ton name, 
is not intact. This land which fifty years ago 
stood in the name of Israel Brayton alone, is 
today divided among three of his grand- 
children, John Summerfield, Israel, and Arthur 
Perry Brayton. 

The ownership of the Brayton Homestead 
has now been traced from the time the red men 
claimed its title to the present day, and in so 
doing the tradition aa hich has come to us, that 
it came into the Brayton name directly from 
the Indians, has been destroyed. 



52 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

Let us today visit the farm, entering from 
the road upon the crest of the hill. The for- 
ests have been cleared away long since, save 
for a small acreage of timber known as "The 
Bray ton Woods," a grove of tall oak trees, 
partially cleared of its underbrush, and be- 
tween whose boughs we see one large boulder 
of conglomerate rock, the picnic scene of by- 
gone years. The land north of the grove is 
still untilled, and from its bushes are gathered, 
in the late summer, most delicious berries. 
Going eastward, we see cultivated fields, some 
with growing corn or potatoes, while others 
are kept for grazing purposes, but the greater 
part of the land is used for raising hay for the 
cattle in winter. In our walk we come to a 
very small plot of ground enclosed by a gran- 
ite curbing, and we at once wonder at its pres- 
ence, so remote its location and so undefined 
its piu-pose. Within this enclosure are biu-ied 
the slaves who had been the faithful family 



53 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

servants for years. Possibly here lie " Cuffe, " 
"Ned," "Floris," and "Moses" mentioned 
in Preserved Bray ton's will, and also Rose 
and Ginnie Avhose names have come down to 
us through generations. Israel Brayton, in 
his will made in 1784, made no mention of 
slaves, so we presume that they were no longer 
owned at the farm. 

After passing a few cattle grazing upon 
the liillside, our attention is drawn to the 
buildings upon the farm, which are built with- 
in a small area, that they may be more ac- 
cessible. They include the hay barn, stable, 
two cribs, shed and poultry houses, in addi- 
tion to the house, which is natiu'ally the 
centre of attraction, substantial and dignified 
in its new white paint and green bhnds. 

Here we pause and note the many changes 
which have been made on and about the farm 
during the past thirty-five years. The stable 
and poultry houses have been erected; the 



54 




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tn 

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THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

well-sweep has been taken down; the large 
old Enghsh walnut tree, under whose branches 
the tables, bountifully supphed for the family 
gatherings, were formerly spread, is no longer 
in sight ; many maple trees have been set along 
the roads ; electric cars now run upon Bray ton 
and Riverside Avenues, thus affording direct 
communication with Fall River, Swansea and 
Somerset ; telephone poles have been erected, 
electric hghts installed,and gas pipes laid in 
Somerset so that many conveniences of a city 
are now accessible. 

For the purpose of abohshing the grade 
crossing at Wilbur Avenue, and in anticipa- 
tion of a new bridge, the New York, New 
Haven and Hartford Railroad, the lessee of 
the Old Colony Railroad, purchased in 1911, 
about one hundred and sixty-eight rods of 
land from the owners of the Homestead Farm. 
Upon a part of this, at the north and west of 
the railroad track, now equipped with elec- 



55 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

tricity, has been constructed a new liighway, 
wliich will soon be under control of the State, 
as are Brayton and Riverside Avenues. 

We now recall with much pleasure the last 
re-union held here on June 17, 1911. Our 
thoughts were filled with reminiscences which 
we, now the older generation, took deUght in 
relating to the children, some of whom had 
never before visited this home of their ances- 
tors, where we had spent so many happy hours 
of our youth. Over twenty years had passed 
since those frequent family gatherings and our 
hearts were touched with sadness as we missed 
the faces of our loved ones who had shared 
those pleasures with us. 

As we retrace our steps and look once more 
across these acres, we are impressed with our 
incomplete knowledge of the fives of our ances- 
tors and long for an insight into the past. 
The stone walls, dividing the fields into pas- 
tures of various dimensions, are mute remin- 



56 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

ders of the labors of five generations. Just 
when the first stones were laid in their foun- 
dations we know not, yet some time in their 
early history " God's Acre, " which we see in a 
quiet spot upon the hillside, must have been 
set apart. 

"I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls 
The burial-ground God's Acre! It is just, 
It consecrates each grave within its walls, 
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust. " 

We find within this enclosure today twenty- 
three of those early graves marked only by the 
low slate stones which indicate their position, 
while inscriptions are carved upon the more 
recent ones in memory of John Bray ton; 
Sarah, liis wife; Content; John Jr. ; Carohne; 
Betsey W.; Stephen; Mary, his wife; Israel; 
and Kezia, his wife. Upon the stone of John 
Brayton is also a record of his son W iUiam's 
death at sea, and upon Stephen's stone that 



57 



THE BRAYTON HOMESTEAD 

of liis daughter Mary H.w ho died in her youth. 
We shall never know who first was buried 
within these walls but inanv of us recall that 
last solemn service held on October 28, 1880 
when our grandmother Kezia Anthony 
Brayton was laid beside her husband. Let us 
remember that those who rest here held in 
deep affection this farm, which was to them in 
truth their home, to us the home of our ances- 
tors, and to the community, for generations, 
"The Brayton Homestead." 



58 



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