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Town of Canton. 

I^arfolfe Countp, ittassacijusetts. 






Kntijfrsits ^3«S8. 



AT the annual town meeting, held April, 1888, the follow- 
ing vote was passed : — 

"Voted, That the town cause to be published the history of 
the town, prepared by the late Daniel T. V. Huntoon, with such ad- 
ditions thereto, and such omissions therefrom, as may be deemed 
expedient, and that a committee of three be appointed by the 
moderator to superintend the publication; that the committee be 
authorized to employ some suitable person to edit the work ; that 
one thousand copies be printed, five hundred (500) of which shall 
be bound, and oifered for sale, at a price not exceeding $3.00 per 
volume, the proceeds of all sales to be paid into the treasury of the 
town; and that thirty-five hundred (3500) dollars be, and the same 
hereby is, appropriated, to defray the expense of publication and 
proper editing of the work ; and that ten copies be given' to the 
family of Mr. Huntoon, who have so kindly offered the manuscript 
for publication. 

" The moderator appointed as committee on history William E. 
Endicott, Henry F. Buswell, and Charles H. French, Jr. 

"Voted, That said sum of thirty-five hundred dollars be not all 
assessed in one year, but be raised in equal parts for two, three, or 
four years at the discretion of the selectmen." 

Immediately upon their appointment, the committee began 
the work assigned them, _by reading through the manuscript 
left by Mr. Huntoon, — a work which occupied them during 
nearly one hundred meetings. While the work, so far as it 
had been carried by its author, was substantially complete, 
it was found that it had not been revised or arranged for the 
press, and that in order to bring it within the compass of an 


ordinary volume, a careful discretion must be exercised in 
striking out redundant and superfluous matter, including the 
many repetitions which must creep into every manuscript 
which, like this, accumulated gradually by the labors of many 
years. Moreover, the manuscript was in such foi'm that it 
was impossible to determine what space the matter would 
occupy in print, so that much of the editorial work had to be 
postponed until the book was put into the press. It seemed 
to the committee that the editorial work, including the mak- 
ing of the necessary index and prefatory matter, would be 
done to most advantage by those who had already such 
knowle'dge of the subject as was to be obtained by a careful 
reading of the whole mass of manuscript, and the seeing the 
work through the press was accordingly undertaken by Mr. 
Endicott and Mr. Buswell of the committee. The making of 
the illustrations was intrusted to Mr. Sidney L. Smith, of 
Canton, as artist, and the plates therefor, except the frontis- 
piece, were made by the Boston Photogravure Company. 
The maps are by Mr. Frederic Endicott, of Canton. The 
printing and binding have been done by Messrs. John Wilson 
& Son, of the University Press, Cambridge ; and the Editors 
desire, in this place, to acknowledge the assistance which they 
have received from the accomplished proof-readers of that 
house, not only in the matter of verbal correction, but by 
way of valuable suggestion and criticism. 

The committee found that Mr. Huntoon had left untouched 
the history of the town during the War of the Rebellion, so 
far as such history relates to the service of its soldiers in the 
field and its citizens at home ; and it was at first their inten- 
tion to have this omission supplied, so far as might be, by 
some other hand. But it was found that in order to carry 
out this plan it would be necessary to omit from the book 
other matter properly belonging to, it, which the committee 
believed they could not with propriety do ; and so they re- 
luctantly abandoned the plan of adding a " war chapter " to 
the work, hoping that at some time the services of Canton's 
citizens and soldiers in the great conflict may be recorded in 
enduring form. 


The publication of the book has been hastened as fast as 
the work to be done and the engagements of the Editors 
would permit. The committee, however, deem it proper to 
say that the printing of the book was delayed for fully a year 
by the failure on the part of the persons furnishing the plates 
for the illustrations to perform their work promptly, — a 
failure for which neither the artist nor the Editors were 

The book, as now presented, is, in the strict sense of the 
words, Mr. Huntoon's. While it has, of necessity, been con- 
densed, the committee believe that nothing of essential im- 
portance has been omitted from it, or the omission of which 
its author would not have approved ; and with these words 
of explanation the work is submitted to the town. 

January, 1893. 


SOON after my return from Europe in 1864, the thought 
occurred to me to write a History of the First Con- 
gregational Church and Parish in Canton. My father had 
been its pastor for many years ; and I had read with interest 
an historical sermon preached by him at the dedication of the 
present meeting-house in 1824. 

I had been clerk of the parish, and had been much in- 
terested in looking over the old records, and deemed that 
portions of them might be wrought up into a readable nar- 
rative. With this view I began to make extracts from the 
records, and while residing in New York City devoted my 
leisure time to arranging the materials then in my possession, 
and nearly completed what now appears in this volume as the 
ecclesiastical history of my native town. 

On my return to Canton in 1869 I was surprised to find 
that large portions of the records had been published in 
a paper printed at Canton many years before, called the 
" Massapoag Journal." I found, moreover, that many ex- 
tracts from the town records had also appeared in this paper, 
and so my history was laid aside for many years. 

In looking over my father's old papers, I accidentally came 
across a letter from his friend, the Rev. Thaddeus William ' 
Harris, at that time librarian of Harvard College; in this 
letter'he urged my father to write a history of Canton. 

It then occurred to me that I might employ my evenings 
in compiling a history of the town. Since then (1872) I have 
devoted myself with more or less assiduity in collecting ma- 

1 As found in Mr. Huntoon's manuscript. 


terials for the work. I have ransacked old attics, talked 
with the oldest inhabitant, consulted the records of the Gen- 
eral Court, the Probate Office, Registry of Deeds, and Supe- 
rior Court at Boston, the Registry of Deeds and Probate 
Records at Dedham, and the libraries, both public and pri- 
vate, of Boston and New York. 

When I have found records accurately printed, I have not 
scrupled to appropriate them, after comparing them in all 
cases with the originals. 

Every statement I have made in this work I have authority 
for, either from records or well-authenticated tradition. 

I acknowledge myself indebted for courtesies or informa- 
tion to the following persons, — George Hilloon, the Li- 
brarian of the New York Historical Society; John Ward 
Dean, Librarian of the New England Historical and Genea- 
logical Society. To Ellis Ames, Esq., Mrs. Nabby May- 
nard, Samuel Chandler, Augustus Gill, and to many others 
who in my own town have assisted me with documents or 
information, I am under great obligation. This work, like 
all of its kind, is incomplete. Volumes might be written 
about those matters that have been omitted, and much that 
has been written might without loss have been left out 
I have endeavored to discriminate as well as I could. 

Time is slowly obliterating the records of the past. Be 
fore they shall have been rendered completely illegible, 
is it not well to gather up and preserve what might other- 
wise be forever lost ? It is a duty we owe to ourselves as 
well as to the memory of our ancestors to secure in a per- 
manent and durable form whatever may be gained from fast- 
perishing records, from the voice of tradition, or from the 
memories of those who are now on the stage of life. 

Our attachment to the place of our birth is strengthened 
by the recollections of the events of former days. The more 
of quaint and curious lore that is associated with one's birth- 
place, the dearer and deeper are the memories which hold 
him to his old moorings and bring fond recollections back 
to his heart. 

The treasures of the past are open to one who will but 


ask, and the light of other days softened by distance falls upon 
him. By his memory he can renew his intercourse with the 
departed, ponder upon their worth and talents, their excel- 
lences of life and stability of character, and be proud of an 
alliance with such nobility, rejoicing that the life they led has 
in a measure survived their bodily dissolution. 

Should I succeed in rescuing from oblivion the men of 
other days, the honored and the loved in their time; and 
should I succeed in interesting my reader, as we proceed 
from the early days of the untutored savage to the events 
within the memory of those now living, — my modest enter- 
prise will be happily fulfilled. 


Chapter Pact 

I. The New Grant i 

II. The Ponkapoag Plantation lo 

III. The First Settlers . 46 

IV. Ancient Deeds and Grants 61 

V. The Gathering of the Church 83 

VI. The First Minister 98 

VII. Roads and Ways 119 

VIII. Schools 134 

IX. Burying-Grounds 148 

X. Early Mills. — Incorporation of Stoughton . . 166 

XI. The Second Minister 176 

XII. Taverns 206 

XIII. Civil History, i 726-1 750 235 

XIV. Some Old Customs 248 

XV. The Third Meeting- House 264 

XVI. The English Church 277 

XVII. The Neutral French 290 

XVIII. Music 306 

XIX. MiUTiA 314 

XX. The War of the Revolution 331 

XXI. The War of the Revolution (^Continued). . . . 348 

XXII. Richard Gridley 360 

XXIII. The Powder-Mills 380 

XXIV. Independence. — The Salt- Works 387 

XXV. The Loyalists 401 

XXVI. Worthies of the Revolution 412 


Chapter Page 

XXVII. Shays's Rebellion 426 

XXVIII. Civil History, i 775-1800 434 

XXIX. The Third Minister 438 

XXX. John Downes . . . 450 

XXXI. Incorporation of Canton 458 

XXXII. Topography 465 

XXXIII. Fourth of July and Other Celebrations in 

Canton 483 

XXXIV. Prominent Men of the New Town .... 497 
XXXV. The Fourth Minister 505 

XXXVI. The New Town. —War of 1812 ... .516 

XXXVII. Roger Sherman .... 524 

XXXVIII. The Rise of South Canton. — Manufactures . 529 

XXXIX. Orthodox, Baptist, and Universalist Churches 547 
XL. Reverend Benjamin Huntoon, Reverend Orestes 

A. Brownson 556 

XLI. Physicians 565 

XLII. Literary History. — Societies 571 

XLIII. Town-Houses. — Memorial Hall 590 


INDEX 657 



Daniel T. V." Huntoon, Portrait Frontispiece 

Stoughton Arms i 

Indian Arrow-Heads g 

Thankful Blackman's Tombstone 60 

Gov. William Stoughton, Portrait Facing 97 

Morse Tablet 118 

Old Milestone 133 

Gilbert Endicott's Tombstone 165 

Old Parsonage Facing 193 

Third Meeting-House Facing 273 

Crane Guards' Flag 330 

The Doty Tavern Facing 337 

The Old Powder-House 359 

Com. John Downes, Portrait Facing 449 

Roger Sherman, Portrait Facing 513 

Paul Revere, Portrait Facing 529 

Present First Congregational Church Facing 545 

Benjamin Huntoon, Portrait Facing 561 

Memorial Tablets Facing 593 

Town Seal 651 



Nathaniel Fisher's Plan, 1796 Facing 465 

Joseph Hodges's Map, 1831 Facing 481 

Map of the "Twelve Divisions," 1696 Facing 593 




NEAR the middle of the seventeenth century, the terri- 
tory now occupied by the towns of Canton, Stoughton, 
and Sharon was a wilderness covered with a majestic forest. 
No signs of civilization were visible ; wolves, foxes, and bears 
held undisputed possession, and herds of deer roamed at will 
over this expanse. 

In 1620, when the forefathers landed at Plymouth, they 
found the Indian chief Chicataubut in full possession of all 
the country. It is not now accurately known how far his 
jurisdiction extended. His tribe, the Massachusetts, were the 
next great people north of the Wampanoags, and were settled 



principally about Massachusetts Bay. The petty and local 
governors of Neponset — Nonantum, Nashaway, and Ponka- 
poag (or, strictly speaking, those who afterward removed to 
Ponkapoag) — paid tribute to him. His court was held at 
Braintree, which included the present towns of Randolph and 
Quincy ; and it was never denied in his lifetime, or that of 
his son or grandson, that he held an undisputed possession. 
In 1 62 1 he went to Plymouth, and signed a treaty with the 
English. He consented to the occupancy of Dorchester by 
the English in 1630; and it was paid for to his satisfaction. 
Finally, the small-pox gathered him to his fathers in 1633 ; 
and Kitchamakin, his brother, was appointed to govern as 
sachem during the minority of Josias, or Josiah, Chicataubut, 
sometimes called Wampatuck, son of Chicataubut. 

How long this savage regency continued, we know not, but 
Feb. 4, 1644, regent and Josias, now styled successor and heir 
to Chicataubut, submitted to the government of the English. 
Kitchamakin conveyed, Oct. 8, 1666, all the land " beyond 
Neponsit Mill, unto the utmost extent," to the English. 

Thus ancient Dorchester, our mother town, which had until 
this time extended only to the top of the Blue Hill, enlarged 
her borders; and the General Court by order, Nov. 20, 1637, 
confirmed the deed from the Indians, and fixed the southern 
limit of the town at the Old Colony line. 

Dorchester was therefore at this time the largest town in 
New England. Its extent maybe better illustrated by enum- 
erating the towns it has lost since, than by specifying what 
it originally included. From time to time, portions have been 
taken to form or to increase other towns. In 1662 Milton 
was set off, Dorchester still holding the territory south of it ; 
a portion was set off to Wrentham in 1724, the petitioners 
alleging that they " lye thirty miles from the old meeting- 
house and fifteen from Puncapoug." In 1726 the South Pre- 
cinct, containing the modern towns of Stoughton, Sharon, 
and Canton, with the lands beyond it, was incorporated under 
the name of Stoughton. 

In 1765 Stoughtonham, now Sharon, was set off; Foxbor- 
ough in 1778, and Canton in 1797. About 1739, there was set 


ofif to Dedham all the land owned by Stoughton north of the 
Neponset River ; and about this time, Dedham and Stoughton 
agreed that Neponset River- should in future be the boundary 
line between the two towns. Dorchester Heights, around 
which so many historical reminiscences cluster, was detached 
in 1804; Washington Village in 1849; in 1868 the large por- 
tion known as Hyde Park; and finally, this old town of Dor- 
chester, with its noble history, on the ist of January, 1870, 
became merged in the city of Boston, and condescended to be 
called the Sixteenth, subsequently the Twenty-fourth, Ward. 
The deed of Kitchamakinwas not considered by the settlers 
of Dorchester full enough; and in 1666 Wampatuck, — called 
by the English Josias, "a wise, stout man," but " a very vicious 
person, . . . who had considerable knowledge of the Christian 
religion, and had at one time professed it when he was a boy 
under the care of Kitchamakin," — promised a deed " more 
full " than that given by Kitchamakin, of all the land in Dor- 
chester beyond the Blue Hills within the grants of Dorches- 
ter, to the utmost extent thereof, excepting only that land 
which was then occupied by the Ponkapoag Indians. He en- 
gaged to give within three years a more full and complete 
title; but before the time designated, he had gone as chief 
general of the expedition to meet hostile tribes in battle, and 
had been killed by them. This last chief man of the royal 
line, says Eliot, " was slain by the Maquzogs, against whom 
he rashly, without due attendants and assistance, went. Yet all 
— yea, his enemies — say he died valiantly. They were more 
afraid to kill him than he was to die. Yet being deserted by 
all, — some knowingly say, through treason, — he stood long, 
and at last fell alone. Had he but ten men — yea, five — in 
good order with him, he would have driven all his enemies 
before him. His brother was resident with us in this town, 
but is fallen into sin and from praying to God." But Josias 
had taken the precaution before he put on his war paint to 
appoint Job Ahauton his true and lawful attorney; and 
armed with this instrument. Job, by and with the advice of 
Squamaug, — called by the English Daniel, — Ahauton, and 
Momentaug, consummated the deed on the loth of Decern- 


ber, 1666, agreeing, at the same time, to obtain the personal 
consent of his absent chief, with the rest of the council. 
Upon intelligence of the death of Josias, — his son, Charles 
Josias, not yet being of age, — Squamaug, brother of Josias, 
and uncle to Charles Josias, was chosen sachem of the Mas- 
sachusetts Indians. He is described as residing at Ponka- 
poag, and in 1670 fulfilled the promise made by Job Ahauton, 
and confirmed to the town of Dorchester the deeds relating 
to the " New Grant; " and a rate of £2% was levied upon the 
proprietors to pay for it. 

In 1671 Squamaug ratifies the deed; and Jerome, son of 
Josiah Chicataubut, himself " relinquished and confirmed the 
deed of Squamaug, my uncle." 

On June 4, 1684, Charles Josiah, son of Josiah, who was 
the son of Chicataubut, in consideration of money paid by 
William Stoughton, granted to Roger Clapp, Capt. John 
Capen, Lieut. Richard Hall, Ensign Samuel Clapp, and 
Quartermaster Thomas Swift, of Milton, their heirs, etc., ac- 
cording to each man's respective right, the whole tract of 
land in the township of Dorchester south of the Blue Hills, 
except the "Punquapaug" Plantation. This deed was given 
to the proprietors of the " New Grant," or the proprietors of 
the common and undivided lands beyond the Blue Hills. 

The next year, 1685, Josias, having "been well, assured by 
some ancient Indians that his grandfather Chicataubut had 
conveyed to the English planters the tract of land on which 
the town of Dedham now stands, quitclaims the same." 

The territory granted in 1637, ^'^^ confirmed in 1720 by 
the General Court, to the town of Dorchester, was all the 
undivided and unallotted land extending from the Blue Hills 
to the Plymouth line. It contained over forty thousand acres 
of land, and was commonly called the land " beyond the Blue 
Hills" by the English, and after 1707 was known as the 
" New Grant." The upland was laid out by the proprietors 
into divisions, by parallel lines running from north to south, 
and was known as the " Twelve Divisions." ^ The swamps 
and low, poor lands were excluded. A rule of proportion 
' See Appendix I. 


was made to four hundred and eighty proprietors on the 
9th of May, 1737; and every inhabitant of the town had 
each his proportion according to the rule. An order was 
made Jan. 16, 1738, that all the land in Dorchester should be 
divided according to said rule ; and the undivided land was 
sold to pay the expenses of surveying and laying out. 

The inhabitants of Dorchester met together in 1668 and 
drew lots for the " Twelve Divisions." In 1695 ^ committee 
was chosen to lay out the lands unto each proprietor accord- 
ing to a former grant agreed upon by a vote of the proprie- 
tors in 1 67 1. Twelve times as much land was proportioned 
to each proprietor as was already prefixed to each man in a 
list of a single division left by Captain Breck, and at that 
time in the keeping of the town clerk ; but it was not until 
1698 that the laying out of the land was finished. Although 
some of these proprietors may have settled upon the land 
laid out to them, the owners must not be confounded with 
the actual settlers of the town. In some cases their children 
moved here and occupied the land ; in many cases it is ques- 
tionable whether the " proprietor " ever set his foot on his 
possessions in the " New Grant." 

In 1659 the proprietors gave two hundred acres of land 
for the use and maintenance of the ministry " to y' inhabit- 
ants of Dorchester on y' northwest side of y= river Neponset, 
and two hundred to the inhabitants that live on the southeast 
side of the river." On the first day of March, 1706, they 
made another grant of seventy-five acres of land, to be laid 
out for the use of those ministers that shall be ordained in 
the land belonging to Dorchester, beyond the Blue Hills, 
and another grant of seventy-five acres to the first minister 
who shall settle and remain with the inhabitants for the space 
of ten consecutive years. So much the proprietors did for 
the spiritual welfare of the early settlers. As we read fifty 
years later that among the earliest bells in New England was 
one imported from Bristol, England, weighing seven hundred 
and eighty-five pounds, and presented to the town of Dor- 
chester, " the gift of the proprietors of Dorchester and 
Stoughton," let us not flatter ourselves that it was given by 


the actual settlers of what is now Canton, but by the pro- 
prietors of the common lands in Stoughton, mostly residents 
of Dorchester. 

The association known as the "Dorchester Proprietors" 
were the owners of the wild lands in that territory now com- 
prising the towns of Stoughton, Sharon, and Canton, with 
the exception of the Ponkapoag Plantation. Until late in 
the seventeenth century these lands were uninhabited ; and to 
whomsoever they were assigned or sold, such pprsons became 
the lawful owners. Thus was established a system of small 
freeholds, which was to be a distinguishing feature in the 
landed history of our country. The occupants of these farms 
paid no annual tribute, as did their ancestors in Old England, 
to some great proprietor, — some " Earl of Puncapog," as the 
Rev. Thomas Prince facetiously called himself when a boy, — 
but were independent. Thus was created a love of freedom, 
and a capacity of self-government developed, which was in 
after years to bear a rich and abundant fruit. Massapoag 
Brook, or the " East Branch of the Neponset," running 
through the centre of South Canton Village, was the dividing 
line between the Ponkapoag Plantation and the land of the 
Dorchester proprietors. The place where Washington Street 
crosses this stream is nearly identical with the spot where the 
old road from Milton line to BiUings' tavern, in Sharon, 
crossed it, probably as early as 1650. At any rate, this road 
was in existence long before any lands were laid out in the 
Dorchester South Precinct, or any person had received his 
estate in severalty. 

In 1 713 the proprietors were incorporated as a distinct 
body, and the town of Dorchester had nothing further to do 
with their affairs. This same year another survey was ordered 
of the lands unsold or undivided south of the " Twelve Divis- 
ions," to be henceforth known as the " Twenty-five Divisions." 
These lines were run parallel with the old Braintree line, and 
were about half a mile distant from each other. Mr. James 
Blake was the surveyor, and his plan is still extant. A small 
portion of these lands only are included in the town of Can- 
ton. The earliest map of the territory now Canton is known 


as the " Map of the Twelve Divisions." It gives, however, 
only an outline of the Ponkapoag Reservation. It was made 
by John Butcher, from a survey on which he spent forty-five 
days, and on which Thomas Vose employed fifty-three days. 
It bears the following legend : — 

" A map, plat, or draft of the Twelve Divisions of land, as they 
were laid out, bounded, and measured to y= proprietors in Dor- 
chester New Grant, beyond y" Blew Hills, in y° years of our Lord 
1696 and 1697, by order of y'^ committee impowered by y' proprietors 
for that work." 

Another plan, based partially on this one, but from addi- 
tional surveys made between the years 1716 and 1720, was 
completed by James Blake, Jr., in 1727. These maps are 
still preserved, though much worn by time, in the Norfolk 
Registry of Deeds; and several copies of them have been 
made. The town of Canton owns one, procured through the 
antiquarian enthusiasm of Ellis Ames, Esq., who, knowing 
the value of a duplicate in case the original was destroyed, 
placed the matter before the town in such a manner that a 
copy was ordered to be made without a dissenting vote. 

Nathaniel Glover, Jr., in a petition which bears date 
Aug. 23, 1718, says that the lands in Dorchester beyond 
the Blue Hills, commonly known or distinguished by the 
name of the " New Grant," contained by estimation forty-two 
thousand acres, more or less. He also affirms that there 
were nine hundred acres of cedar swamp and eleven hundred 
acres of meadow bottom. 

In December, 1753, a plan of the whole town of Stoughton 
was made by Joseph Hewins, Jr., but I know of no original 
or copy. It was probably done with especial reference to 
the setting off" of several thousand acres of land to Wrentham. 

When it was deemed by the British government that a war 
with the colony was inevitable, surveyors were sent into the 
interior to prepare a reliable map of the country. The State 
was surveyed in 1774- The main road appears, running 
substantially as at present through the town. The meeting- 
house at Canton Corner, the brooks and ponds bearing the 


names "Mashapog" and "Ponkipog," are also delineated; 
Traphole Brook is called Trapall ; a part of the Manatiquot 
River, Smelt River, and the Neponse't River runs a question- 
able course on one side of the map. 

The next map that has come under my observation in 
point of time appeared in, or was prepared for, the " Boston 
Magazine" of June, 1785. The scale is two inches to the 
mile. It displays the Doty tavern, the Bussey house, the 
Episcopal church, Bemis's mill, the old meeting-house, with 
the grammar school on the south, Bent's tavern ; and at South 
Canton, Withington's mill. Belcher's tavern, and the mill of 
Colonel Gridley ; on Ragged Row, Pequit Brook, the old 
saw-mill, and Dickerman's mill are placed. The meeting- 
house in modern Stoughton and Capen's tavern are on the 
southern limit. 

The Hon. Elijah Dunbar, who was a mathematician and 
surveyor, records that "November 8th, 1783, he finished y' 
great plan of Dorchester land." 

The General Court passed an order, June 26, 1794, that 
towns should be surveyed and plans made. ' Nathaniel Fisher 
was then our surveyor. He made his map on a scale of fifty 
chains to the inch, — or, as he always spelled it, " intch." It 
shows the occupants of the houses only on what are now 
Pleasant and Washington streets; the ponds and brooks; 
the situation of the mills, with their owners; the meeting- 
house; and the hay bridges over the Neponset. This map 
includes the modern town of Stoughton. When the line was 
run between adjacent towns, the selectmen of those towns 
were present; and Gen. Elijah Crane, Jabez Talbot, and Gen. 
Nathan Crane looked out for the interests of Canton.^ 

In 1830 Joseph Hodges, Esq., appears to have been a resi- 
dent of Canton, occupant at one time of the Bussey, and at 
another the Bemis house. He was a surveyor; and when 
in conformity to the law of the State, a map was required, 
the committee appointed by the town consulted with Mr. 
Hodges. His offer to make the map from actual survey for 
thirty dollars was accepted. In his labor he was assisted by 
• See Appendix III. 



a committee of five, but Hon. Thomas French and Robert 
Tucker are the only names which appear on record as having 
done anything. This map was published in March, 183 1. 

In 1855 Henry F. Walling, a civil engineer, who was su- 
perintendent of the State map, also engaged on a map of 
Norfolk County, proposed to furnish a map of Canton. He 
offered to make such surveys as were necessary, and draft a 
plan of the entire town on a large scale, showing all the 
roads, streets, lanes, hills, woods, swamps, ponds, streams, 
mills, stores, churches, schools, dwellings, and other objects 
of importance and interest usually laid .down on a map of 
this description. The town accepted the offer; and this is 
the latest map of any size that has appeared. It states that 
the town boundaries are laid down in part from old surveys. 
Canton also appears in the rnaps of Norfolk County by Wall- 
ing, in 1853 and 1858; Boston and its environs, in 1866; and 
in the " Norfolk County Atlas," published in 1876. 








' ^- 



- .— '/'-.'r?' 





THE Massachusetts Indians who had settled near the 
mouth of the Neponset River were known as the Ne- 
ponset Indians ; and Chicataubut, their sachem, was styled 
the " Sagamore of the Neponsetts." It was here in a grove 
now known as Vose's Grove that John Eliot, on the I4tli 
of September, 1646, first preached the gospel to the Indians 
in the wigwam of Kitchamakin, the successor of Chicataubut. 
Eliot continued to take a deep interest in their welfare ; and 
it was owing to his advice that when for a trifling considera- 
tion they sold their lands at Neponset, they decided to 
remove to Ponkapoag. 

The aboriginal name of the territory lying beyond the 
Blue Hills, known to the inhabitants as the " New Grant," 
was Ponkapoag. The territory derived its name from the 
pond, which formed one of the principal features in the land- 
scape ; and the name in the middle of the seventeenth century 
applied to a more extended territory than that which sub- 
sequently was included in the Ponkapoag Reservation. 
While the Indians sojourned at Neponset, they were known 
as the Neponset tribe ; and when they removed to Ponkapoag, 
they received the name of the place of their new location. 
It is an error to suppose that the place took its name from 
the residence of the tribe within its borders ; the reverse is 

The apostle Eliot was anxious to gather all the Praying 
Indians into one town, but the Cohanit, or Taunton Indians, 
had reserved a spot for themselves ; and owing to difficulties 
with the English people, he was obliged to give up this idea, 
and decided to place them in separate communities, the first 


of which he established at Natick, which was designated as 
" The First Praying Town ; " the second was at Ponkapoag. 
About 1650 the Indians made a beginning; and in 1655 
Eliot says, " They desire to make a town named Ponkipog, 
and are now upon the work." Mr. Eliot was satisfied with 
the experiment ; he found that they were more contented liv- 
ing in small communities than in a large town ; such was the 
result at Natick and was beginning to be the " experience at 
Ponkipog." The " History of Dorchester " says in reference 
to Eliot : " He had become convinced that a position more 
retired from the whites would better promote their interests, 
spiritual and temporal, and solicited the co-operation of the 
principal inhabitants of Dorchester to further their removal." 
In pursuance of this desire, the apostle in 1657 addressed 
the following letter to Major-Gen. Humphrey Atherton, 
— one of the most distinguished and influential men of 
Dorchester: — 

Much Honored and Beloved in the Lord, — Though our poore 
Indians are much molested in most places in their meetings in way of 
civilities, yet the Lord hath put it into your hearts to suffer us to meet 
quietly at Ponkipog, — for which I thank God, and am thankful to your- 
self and all the good people of Dorchester. And now that our 
meetings may be the more comfortable and favorable, my request is 
that you would please to further these two motions : First, that you 
would please to make an order in your towne record, that you approve 
and allow y" Indians of -Ponkipog there to sit down and make a town 
and to enjoy such accommodations as may be competent to maintain 
God's ordinance among them another day. My second request is 
that you would appoint fitting men who may in fit season bound and 
lay out the same and record it also. And thus commending you to 
the Lord, I rest. Yours to serve in the service of Jesus Christ, 

John Euot. 

The influence of " the apostle," not only on Major Ather- 
ton, but upon " the good people of Dorchester," is shown 
by the action at the next ensuing town meeting, Dec. 7, 
1657. On that day, the town appointed Major Atherton, 
Lieutenant Clap, Ensign Foster, and William Sumner a com- 
mittee to lay out the Indian Plantation at Ponkapoag, not to 


exceed six thousand acres of land ; and it was voted " that 
the Indians shall not alienate or sell their plantations unto 
any English, upon the penalty of loss or forfeiture of their 
plantations." This transaction is more fully set forth in the 
Records of Dorchester for the year 1707: — 

" Whereas, the Indians in the Massachusetts Country had sold all 
their rights and interest in all the land in the township of Dorchester, 
and had no place to settle themselves in, where they might have the 
gospel preached to them by the Rev. Mr. Eliot, upon the considera- 
tion thereof, the Rev. Mr. Eliot did petition to y" town of Dorchester 
that they would be pleased to grant to the Indians of Punkapouge a 
tract of land within their township, which they might settle, and he 
have the opportunity to preach the gospel to them. Upon the Rev. 
Mr. Eliot's request in the behalf of the said Indians, the inhabitants 
of said town of Dorchester did call a town meeting and did grant to 
the Indians of Puncapauge, a certain tract of land lying beyond the 
Blew Hills, not exceeding six thousand acres," etc. 

This was the land upon which the greater part of Canton 
is now situated; it was known as the Ponkapoag Plantation, 
and to it most of the land titles must be traced. It extended 
substantially from Ponkapoag Pond on the east nearly to the 
Neponset River on the west, thence south to near the Via- 
duct, thence east into the boundaries of modern Stoughton, 
thence north to Ponkapoag Pond.^ 

Gookin says in defining the position of the ancient village 
of Ponkapoag, " There is a great mountain called the Blew 
Hill which lieth northeast from it about two miles." This 
would bring the Indian village at what is now known as 
Canton Corner. 

No early map is known to be in existence of the larger part 
of Canton ; that is, the part embraced in what was known as 
the Ponkapoag Plantation. In 1667, when the Dorchester 
committee met with the Indians to renew the bounds of the 
plantation, they mentioned that the Indians had a plat of the 
land, but would not lend it to them. The committee had 
neglected to bring a compass, and when they arrived at the 
northeast corner of Captain Clapp's farm were obliged to 
1 See Appendix II. 


perambulate the remainder of the boundaries. It is proba- 
ble this map was in duplicate, but that the copy of the town 
was burned in the same fire that destroyed the early tax lists 
of Dorchester. 

The next plan was in 1687, when Capt. Ebenezer Billings 
took a plat of the common lands between the Blue Hills and 
Pecunit; this must have covered some part of the Indian 
Reservation, probably one half. Some surveys were made 
between lessees in 1704, when the Indians gave leases, but 
probably no plan of the plantation. When the early settlers 
received their deeds in 1725, the General Court ordered a 
survey to be made. Capt. Ebenezer Woodward made the 
survey and plan. 

In 1756 Robert Spurr was guardian of the Indians, and 
was very much embarrassed to determine the boundaries 
between the lands of the English and the Indians. It was 
asserted that the Indians had no plat; and if they ever had 
any, that no trace of the field-notes even could be found. 
Spurr, therefore, desires the General Court to order the Eng- 
lish persons abutting on the Indian land to produce their 
deeds, and pay their proportion of the charges of surveying 
the Indian lands adjoining them. The request was granted, 
and he was empowered to employ a surveyor and chainman 
upon oath to settle the boundaries between the Indians and 
the English, — each party to pay their proportion of the ex- 
pense, the English to produce their deeds. The plan was 
finished in 1760, by which it appeared that there was still 
in possession of the Indians land amounting to seven hundred 
and ten and three quarters acres. The English abutters 
were Robert Capen, Recompense Wadsworth, Jonathan Ca- 
pen, Deacon Wales, Ignatius Jordan, Elijah Jordan, James 
Smith, Nehemiah Lisconi, Paul Wentworth, Samuel Tucker, 
Josiah Sumner, John and Moses Wentworth, Edward Bailey, 
John Whitley. 

In 1650 the Indians appear to have been in quiet posses- 
sion at Ponkapoag, and in 1657 with full permission of the 
town of Dorchester. * 

In 1658 the Provincial Government appointed commission- 


ers to take care of the Indians and watch over their interests. 
Major Humphrey Atherton was authorized to constitute and 
appoint commissioners in the several Indian plantations, 
whose duty it should be to hear. and decide upon such mat- 
ters of difference as might arise among them. 

That they soon began to till the soil appears from the pe- 
tition of Manaquassen in 1662, whose necessities require that 
he should have a horse or mare to go before his oxen to 
plough his land. The deputies think it meet that a ticket 
be given him to buy a horse, provided that the seller take 
the ticket and make return to the Secretary. It must have 
thrown a damper on his agricultural pursuits when the peti- 
tion was returned with the indorsement, " The magistrates 
consent not." 

In 1667, before going to the war, Josias, the sachem of the 
Massachusetts Indians, called upon the selectmen of Dor- 
chester, and desired that they would give him a deed of the 
six thousand acres at " Punkapauog," which the town had 
given to the Indians, to be made out in his name and the 
names of his councillors, — Squamaug, Ahauton, Momen- 
taug, William Ahauton, old Chinaquin, and Assarvaske. 

It was probably in answer to this request that in May, 
1667, a committee from the town of Dorchester went to 
Ponkapoag, and having given the Indians notice of their 
coming, met a delegation of the principal Indians at the 
" wigwam " of Ahauton. They reviewed the bounds, re- 
newed the landmarks, and returned at night to the wig- 
wam, where they slept. The next day they finished their 
labors, " old Ahauton " going with them. 

As some of the Praying Indians had been suspected of 
attacking the English, the Indians at "Punquapoag" were 
ordered not to go more than a mile from their village with- 
out being accompanied by an Englishman. Although there 
was no evidence that the Ponkapoag Indians had been en- 
gaged in any conspiracy against the English, yet the select- 
men of Dorchester feared " that in case of an assault upon the 
town, they should not expect any help or succor from these 
Indians, but contrarywise, to the great detriment, if not utter 


ruin, of our plantations." It was deemed advisable to place 
all the men of the tribe under the command of Quartermaster 
Thomas Swift of Milton, who removed them, first to Long 
Island in Boston Harbor, thence to Brush Hill in Milton, 
where they raised some little corn, although late in the sea- 
son when they came up from down the harbor. While here, 
they were visited every fortnight by John Ehot and Major 

A few years afterward the Indians were ordered to repair 
to their plantations at " Punkapaug," and dwell there ; and a 
person was appointed to call over the names of the men and 
women every morning and evening. 

The following apocryphal story is told by the author of 
" Margaret Smith's Journal," of a powah, or wizard, who 
must have flourished about this time : — 

"There was, Mr. Eliot told us, a famous Powah, who, coming to 
Punkapog while he was at that Indian village, gave out among the 
people there that a little humming-bird did come and peck at him 
when . he did aught that was wrong, and sing sweetly to him when he 
did a good thing or spake the right words ; which coming to Mr. Eliot's 
ear, he made him confess, in the presence of the congregation, that he 
did only mean, by the figure of the bird, the sense he had of right and 
wrong in his own mind. This fellow was, moreover, exceeding cun- 
ning, and did often ask questions to be answered touching the creation 
of the Devil and the fall of man." 

During the reign of Squamaug, the long contest which had 
subsisted between Josias Chicataubut, sachem of Ponkapoag, 
and King Philip, sachem of Mount Hope, in relation to the 
boundary line between their lands, was satisfactorily settled. 
They met at the house of Mr. Hudson, at Wading River, in 
what is now Attleborough, July 12, 1670, and signed an 
agreement that the patent line dividing Plymouth from Mas- 
sachusetts should be their boundary. Philip signed the 
agreement first, as he was considered the aggressor; then 
Squamaug signed, and William Ahauton and John Sassa- 
mon, councillors, witnessed the instrument. 

The name last mentioned deserves attention from the fact 


that his violent death was the occasion of Philip's War. He 
revealed the plots of King Philip, whose secretary he had 
been, to the English at Plymouth ; and not long after, Jan. 29, 
1674-75, he was found dead in a pond in Middleborough, 
called Assawomset, with marks of violence upon his person. 
An Indian who saw the deed told William A^hauton; and 
this information led to the execution of the murderer on 
June 4, 1675. Sassamon, or Woossausmon, born at Ponka- 
poag, was the son of Christian Indians. He became a con- 
vert to Christianity in 1662, and was educated. At one time 
he taught school at Natick, and is said to have aided Eliot 
in translating the Bible into the Indian tongue. He was not 
only admitted into the communion of the Lord's Table in one 
of the Indian churches, but was employed every Lord's Day 
as a teacher. 

In 1674 Capt. Daniel Gookin wrote a book entitled, 
" The Historical Collections of the Indians in New England," 
which remained in manuscript until published by the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society in 1792. He gives a graphic and 
interesting account of the Indians, their government, manners, 
religion, and customs. By virtue of his authority as magis- 
trate and superintendent of all the Indians, he was brought 
into frequent communion with them ; and his opinion is, with- 
out doubt, entitled to much consideration in historical matters. 
In February, 1668, Captain Gookin held a court at " Packe- 
mit," or " Punquapauge." Undoubtedly his description of 
the place was written a year or two later. He calls it " the 
Second Praying Town." Eliot in his description says, " Pon- 
kapoag, or Pakcunit, is our second town where the sachems 
of the blood, as they term their chief royal line, have their 
residence ; " and Hutchinson follows him almost literally. 

At the time Gookin wrote, Ponkapoag had a population of 
only sixty souls, or twelve families. " Here they worship God 
and keep the Sabbath in the same manner as is done in 
Natick. They have a ruler, a constable, and a schoolmaster." 

Ponkapoag had suffered in the decade immediately preced- 
ing Gookin's writing by the death of several honest and able 
men ; and some who were considered faithful turned apostates. 


and went away. These things had retarded the growth of 
the place ; but especially had the village suffered in the death 
of William Awinian, — an Indian who is described as of great 
ability, of genteel deportment, and as speaking very good 
English. He appears to have been respected for his worth, 
and was a man of influence in the plantation. Gookin re- 
marks, " His death was a very great rebuke to this place." 

Eliot says of him, " He was a man of eminent parts ; all the 
English acknowledge him, and he was known to many. He 
was of ready wit, sound judgment, and affable. He has gone 
into the Lord." 

The Indians were very useful to the early settlers. They 
helped them to build their houses; and to-day there are 
houses standing, in the erection of which tradition says the 
Indians assisted. They were useful in planting the seed and 
reaping the harvest. The more industrious earned money 
by cutting and preparing cedar shingles and clapboards for 
the Boston market. To the less industrious, the woods and 
the swamps offered the prospect of game ; while the ponds, 
the river, and the brooks furnished them a supply of fish for 
their own consumption, or for barter and traffic with their 
English neighbors. 

Thus while engaged in tilling the fields of their white 
neighbors, or in traffic, they were wont to " call to remem- 
brance the former days," and repeat the lessons those godly 
men, the apostle Eliot and his son, had taught them in their 
ministrations at this place ; and these poor sons of the forest 
grew eloquent as they spoke of the loving-kindness of the 
Eliots for them and their race. When cheated and deprived 
of their lands at Neponset Mills, God had put it into the 
heart of the Rev. Mr. Eliot to become a petitioner for 
them to the town of Dorchester, that they might settle to- 
gether at Ponkapoag and be " gospeUized ; " and after attend- 
ing to their temporal wants, he had established with them a 
regular religious service. He had taught them to keep the 
Lord's Day with reverence. Thus, on Sunday morning, when 
the sound of the drum reverberated over the plain, they all 
collected at the little meeting-house which they had erected, 


and with quiet and devout mien listened while the " apostle " 
or his son John would exhort them to lives of purity, virtue, 
and godliness, laboring hard " to bring us into the sheepfold 
of our Lord Jesus Christ." And that they might never be 
without an instructor, Eliot taught members of their tribe in 
all matters bearing upon their spiritual and temporal welfare. 
For this he was well qualified. He had by his diligence and 
genius attained to greai skill in the Indian language. He 
translated, as is well known, the Bible into this tongue. This 
was a work requiring great perseverance, and lasting many 
years. When we consider that to translate the Bible to-day 
into any of the foreign languages, with all the assistance of 
lexicons and dictionaries, would be a herculean task, how 
much more difficult must it have been for John Eliot, with 
no written or printed language to guide him, to translate the 
whole Bible into a tortuous and unknown tongue ! The task 
was simply gigantic. The printing was begun in 1660, and 
finished in 1663. 

Although Mr. Eliot was so great a student and so learned 
a man, his preaching was adapted to the comprehension of 
the Indians. " His manner of teaching," says Gookin, " was 
first to begin with prayer, and then to preach briefly upon 
a suitable portion of Scripture; afterwards to permit the 
Indians to propound questions; and divers of them had a 
faculty to frame hard and difficult questions touching some- 
thing then spoken or some other matter in religion tending 
to their illumination, which questions Mr. Eliot, in a grave 
and Christian manner, did endeavor to resolve and answer to 
their satisfaction." His delivery was earnest and impressive, 
his words plain and to the purpose. " The Indians," says an 
historian of the time, " have often said that his preaching 
was precious and desirable to them;" and they have left this 
testimony on record in the following words, under date of 
Nov. 20, 1706: — 

" We, having made large experience of the evidence and mercy of 
God unto us, in affording us salvation in and by the gospel of his son 
Jesus Christ, and has been pleased to move you y° hearts of his good 
people for to encourage us to embrace and come in with the same. 


And that for above these fifty years by some of his faithful ministers, 
and when we had no convenient place of settlement, it pleased God 
for to move the heart of the Rev. Mr. Eliat not only for to labor hard 
with us for to bring us into the sheepfold of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
but did also become a petitioner for us to the town of Dorchester, 
that they would be pleased to bestow on us a certain tract of land at 
Ponkopauge, that we might settle together, that we might be gospilized; 
and in answer hereunto the good people of Dorchester did call a town 
meeting and passed a vote that we should have a certain tract of land 
not exceeding 6000 acres, but we were not to sell or alienate any 
piece or parcel upon forfeiture of the whole. Accordingly we have 
enjoyed the same under Dorchester protection for about fifty years, 
both in securing us from the former war by soldiers, and otherwise for 
our safety and comfort, &c." 

Mr. Eliot's son John also preached to the Indians at 
Ponkapoag, it having been his custom to visit them and preach 
for them once a fortnight ; and great was the blow when John 
Eliot the younger died, — " when God was pleased to put an 
end to his work and life, and carry him with full sail to 
heaven." The apostle also had labors to perform at more 
distant places ; old age wore on him apace ; and finally the 
old man, "the first herald of Christianity to the savages," 
after many years of faithful service, died. 

" The good, the pious, in the early days. 
Who planted here his noble palm of praise ; 
Who justly bore the " Apostle's " sacred name. 
And won from virtue's self a virtuous fame ; 
Who to the Indian and the negro bore 
Learning's free gift, and opened wide her door." 

A memorial drinking-trough was erected in 1880, on the 
old Packeen Plain, — a site rich in historic associations ; it 
bears on enduring granite this inscription, — 

" In memory of the labors of the Apostle Eliot among the Indians 
of Ponkapoag, 1655-1690." 

Increase Mather, writing in 1687, says, — 

"Besides the church at Natick there are four Indian assemblies 
where the name of the true God and Jesus Christ is solemnly called 


upon. Mr. Eliot formerly used to go to them once a fortnight, but 
now he is weakened with labors and old age, and preacheth not to the 
Indians oftener than once in two months." 

In 1688 Gen. Francis Nicholson, who was subsequently 
Lieutenant-Governor of New York, under Andres, Governor 
of Maryland, of Virginia, of Nova Scotia, and of South 
Carolina, visited " Punckapaug; " and some of the Indians 
being afraid, he gave them a little powder and ball, — a timely 
gift, for the year following a draft of ninety Indians was 
ordered from Ponkapoag, Natick, and other places where the 
Indians friendly to the English resided, and sent into the 
army. Rev. George M. Bodge says, " In July, 1689, Capt. 
Thomas Prentice and Mr. Noah Wiswall were sent to arrange 
matters with the uneasy Punckapoags." Captain Prentice 
was so highly respected by the Praying Indians that on the 
death of Gookin in 1691, they petitioned the court to ap- 
point him superintendent of their affairs. Not only would it 
appear that the Indians were uneasy, but the inhabitants of 
the neighboring town of Milton seem to have been somewhat 
alarmed ; for the same month and year, Thomas Vose writes 
that — 

" Milton is a frontier town, bordering on or near adjacent to a 
plantation of Indians, who, as he understands, are very speedily to be 
embodied together and to encamp themselves in or near the precincts 
of Milton, which' will occasion that town for its safety to watch and 

Between York Street and Ragged Row (Pleasant Street) 
there exists a tract of land the greater part of which is cov- 
ered with a growth of wood. The Turnpike crosses it from 
north to south ; and the region remains almost a wilderness. 
One can wander for hours over these forsaken acres ; cart- 
roads, bridle-paths, and driftways cross it, furnishing rough, 
but cool and shady drives or walks. Diverging from these 
are smaller paths, where one treads on moss of the softest 
verdure, or sits on banks covered with ferns and flowers; 
and here in their season are found the rarest wild plants and 
flowers that grow in our town. Hills and valleys, brooks 


and ponds, break the monotony of the landscape ; and at 
intervals fine views of the surrounding country may be 

This whole territory is divided by loose and dilapidated 
stone walls, which serve to indicate the ancient landmarks. 
One portion of this land has long been called Mount Hunger 
Fields. Tradition asserts that in former days one of the 
early settlers starved to death on the land, hence its name. 
Some of the giants of the forest still remain. The Old 
Hornbeam rises, rough and gnarled, above all the trees that 
surround it; the old deeds make mention of it, and sur- 
veyors depict it on ancient plans. It has stood for centu- 
ries, all its companions having been converted to the use 
of man. Here also stand the Lone Chestnut, the Three 
Maples, and other landmarks. An ancient roadway known 
to the Indians as the Quantum Path, which was in use 
before the Turnpike was built, leaves the latter near the 
southeasterly border of Reservoir Pond, and crossing these 
deserted fields, comes out near Belcher's Corner. Diverging 
from this old highway, one branch leads to Pleasant Street 
in Canton, skirting the southerly shore of the Reservoir Pond, 
while another in a more southerly direction comes out on 
Burr Lane ; another road, turning to the east, passes south 
of Muddy Pond, and running through what are sometimes 
designated as the Indian farms, passes the Indian burying- 
ground, coming out on Indian Lane. 

Scattered over this territory are many ancient cellar-holes, 
which testify to the former occupancy of these lands. A 
portion of this land was purchased from the Indians in 1725 ; 
and here were the houses of John and Moses Wentworth, 
Moses Gill, Edward Pitcher, Elias Monk, and Elhanan Lyon. 
Here was Pitcher's Pit, where tradition asserts that Edward 
Pitcher, pursuing a wolf, fell into a hole and found, much to 
his surprise, that the wolf was already in possession. An- 
other version of the story is that Pitcher was annoyed by a 
pilferer of vegetables, and dug a wolf-pit, carefully conceal- 
ing it from view; the next morning he found one of his 
neighbors in it, unable to extricate himself, who ever after 


received the sobriquet of Pitcher's Wolf. Here are Fox and 
Porcupine hills, Beaver, Spring Meadow, York, Pequit, Shaven, 
and Ponkshire brooks, York and Muddy ponds. Here was 
Esty's Neck, Pomeroy's, Robin, and the Cedar swamps. 

In 1726 a committee appointed by the General Court 
reported that it was true " that the Indian proprietors are 
reduced to but few families, and improve but a small quantity 
of their land." 

The family of Ahauton is mentioned as early as any Indian 
family. Many of this name embraced Christianity, and sev- 
eral were educated. Old Ahauton, as he is called by the 
commissioners who visited his wigwam in 1667, was the son 
of Jumpum, and before he became a Christian was obliged to 
pay two beaver-skins to William Blaxton, the first settler of 
Boston, as a penalty for having set traps in 1635 to catch 
Blaxton's swine. In 1642 he is mentioned as an Indian 
guide and interpreter. In 1658, in signing the deed of Nan- 
tasket, he styles himself as of " Puncapaug." Eliot thus 
writes of him : — 

" Our chief ruler is Ahauton, an old, steadfast friend of the English, 
and loveth his country. He is more loved than feared ; the reins of 
his bridle are too long. Wakan is sometimes necessarily called to 
keep court here, to add life and zeal in the punishment of sinners." 

Old Ahauton lived to sign the deed of Boston in 1685. 
His son William was called to be the teacher at the death 
of Awinian. Eliot writes of him in 1670 as follows: — 

" He is a promising young man of a simple and upright heart, a 
good judgment. He prayeth and preacheth well ; he is studious and 
industrious, and well accounted of among the English." 

In due time he became one of the councillors of Squa- 
maug, the Massachusetts sachem. He was a man of great 
attainments for an Indian. He signed many documents and 
treaties before 1675, and he wrote a fair hand ; the same year 
William, William, Jr., and Benjamin were paid for military 
services by the Government. Some years ago an ancient 
deed was discovered at Dedham, which bore date 1680, and 


was a grant of land in the vicinity of Charles River, " from 
William Ahauton, alias Quaanan, his brother Benjamin, and 
their sisters, Tahkeesuisk and Hanna Ahauton, alias Jamme- 
wosh, all of ' Punkapogg ' near the Blue Hills." On March 
18, 1 78 1, when Charles Chicataubut, son of Charles Josias, 
sachem of the Massachusetts, desired that William Stoughton 
and Joseph Dudley might be appointed his guardians, Wil- 
liam Ahauton acted as interpreter. In 1690 William Ahauton 
visited Major-General Stoughton to ascertain what was most 
expedient to be done for the safety of the friendly Indians 
and the English. Later we find him with the Natick Indians 
consulting Judge Sewall about the same business. At a 
meeting held at Pecunit on lecture-day in March, 1704, the 
Indians consented one and all that William Ahauton should 
have the improvement of Beaver meadow during his life 
^' for his labors in y" ministery among them." In 171 1 he 
is styled preacher, and stationed at Pecunit. He died July 
21, 1717. 

The wigwam of Ahauton is said to have stood near the 
site where Hon. Charles H. French erected his stone house 
in 1854, a part of the material of which was blasted from an 
immense rock which stood out from the surrounding field 
and had been known to the former generation as " Squaw 
Rock." The tradition is that the squaw of William Ahauton, 
of Pecunit, after having lived for ten years in great love 
with her husband, was condemned at a hearing before Justice 
Daniel Gookin, in October, 1688, for conduct unbecoming a 
wife and mother. It was decided to spare her life, but that 
the said Ahauton " shall on the twenty-ninth- instant stand 
on the gallows, after the lecture in Boston, weth a roape 
around hir neck one hower, and that the marshall-general 
shall cause hir to be took down, returned to prison, and 
committed to the Indian constable, who on a public day, by 
order of Capt. Gookin, shall severely whip hir, not exceed- 
ing thirty stripes." The punishment was duly inflicted; and, 
unable to bear the disgrace attending it, upon her return 
home she dashed out her brains by jumping head-foremost 
from this rock. 


William left sons, William, Thomas, and Amos, the latter 
of whom succeeded his father as preacher, and lived to be 
a contemporary of the second minister of Canton, the Rev. 
Samuel Dunbar. 

In 1675 we find that Peter Ahauton and Nathaniel Pa- 
tunckon were ordered to appear before the magistrate and 
give their testimony in regard to the murder of one Caleb. 

In 1754 the wigwam of one Job stood upon land which he 
had sold to Stephen David, who informs him in the customary 
language of the day when addressing an Indian, that " if he 
dont like its situation, he can move it on the other side of the 
line on his own land." This family appear to have inter- 
married with the Pomhams; for in 1767 Pomham, then only 
seventeen years of age, had a bastard child called Thomas, 
descended on his mother's side from Thomas Ahauton. One 
Pitt Pomham appears in Stephen Miller's company in Colonel 
Bagley's regiment at Fort William Henrj' in 1756, again in 
1760 as a servant to Major John Shepard. In 1812 Presi- 
dent John Adams, writing to Thomas Jefferson, says, — 

"Aaron Pomham, the Priest, and Moses Pomham, the King, of the 
Punkapaug and Neponset tribes, were frequent visitors at my father's 
house at least seventy years ago. I have a distinct remembrance of 
their forms and figures. They were very aged, and the tallest and 
stoutest Indians I have ever seen. The titles of King and Priest and 
the names of Moses and Aaron were given them no doubt by our 
Massachusetts divines and statesmen." 

The Momentaugs were among the most ancient of the 
Indian families. The name of Robert, alias Momentaug, as 
one of the councillors of the king, Josias Wampatuck, ap- 
pears on the deed of Quincy, then Braintree, in 1665. In 1683 
he is paid for killing a " woulfe " by the town of Dorchester. 
In 1685 his name appears on the parchment deed given to 
the town of Boston. In 1712 Nehemiah Momentaug leases 
to Joseph Tucker for two hundred years six acres of land, 
where the road now passes into the Revere Copper Com- 
pany's works from Washington Street. It was then designated 
as "Nehemiah Momentaug, his Neck; " and probably his wig- 


warn was on this land. Samuel Momentaug was one of the 
Indians who in 1707 cheerfully yielded his right in the land 
about the meeting-house in Ponkapoag, that it might be used 
for a burial-place. John Wentworth affirms that Sarah Mo- 
mentaug was Samuel's daughter, and calls him " one of the 
ancient proprietors of Ponkipog Plantation." This Sarah 
Momentaug, alias Sarah Simons, died at Dedham, Oct. 
27, 1747. 

The following letter, by Isaac Royall, a well-known citizen 
in his day, throws light upon her ancestry : — 

" I can assure you that she is esteemed to be one of the most 
certain proprietors of Puncapaug Plantation, she being of the antient 
family of the Momantaugs, and stands allied by marriage to King 
Josiah's family, who, in his deed to Dorchester, reserved Puncapaug 
Plantation for the use of the Indians of which the family of Mo- 
mantaugs were part." 

I find that in 17 16 Hannah Momentaug was married to 
Thomas Blunt, of Milton. 

On the 29th of March, 1718, Deacon Joseph Tucker, one 
of the first settlers of Canton, with his wife, Judith, conveyed 
to Elijah Danforth and his brother three acres of land known 
as Thomas Mohen's field. This land is situated opposite 
the Memorial Hall in Canton, and was leased about 171 2 by 
Mohen to Tucker. The name is spelled sometimes Moohen, 
and I have seen Moho spelled Mooho. I am in doubt 
whether the Momentaugs were or were not the ancestors of 
the Mohos. The name Elizabeth Moohen occurs during the 
years 1717-19. Joshua Moho married Sarah Momentaug, 
Feb. 20, 1 7 19. They had a son Samuel, who in 1753 com- 
plains " that the Indians are greatly neglected, and their lands 
stripped of timber." Samuel married Dinah, and lived in a 
house that stood on the westerly side of Indian Lane, on a 
road which was laid out in 1760, but soon neglected. This 
house was called old in 1790, and I am told that there are 
persons living who can remember it. The cellar still can be 
seen ; it is on a hill commanding a view of the surrounding 
country. The place is sometimes called the Moho lot, and 


sometimes the Dinah lot. Samuel Moho died May 4, 1762, 
leaving eleven children, all but one being under age. Dinah 
joined Mr. Dunbar's church in 1734, and died May 26, 1 791, 
at the age of ninety. In 1761 I find Joshua and Thomas 
Moho as soldiers stationed at HaHfax, in the company of 
Capt. Lemuel Bent. Alfred Croud tells me that there is a tra- 
dition among the Indians that Dinah was found dead in the 
cellar of her house, with her throat cut. She was the mother 
of nineteen children. One of her daughters, Abigail, lived 
with John Bancroft, or Bancraft, son of Robert, commonly 
called " Doctor." Mary married Caesar Elisha; Martha mar- 
ried Robert Wood, Jan. i, 1779. Manta, or Mantha, married, 
in 1770, Daniel Tom, a Natick Indian; and Dinah married, 
in 1769, Mingo Robinson. MoUie married into the Williams 
family. The sons of Dinah appear to have been patriots, 
and faithfully served their country during the Revolution. 
Asa, George, and William were in the service. John served 
six months and twenty-six days, and died far from his home, 
amid the privations and sufferings of the campaign, Nov. 22, 
1777. Jeremiah and George shouldered their queen's-arms 
and served with Captain Pope in the famous Fourth Massa- 
chusetts Regiment. 

Daniel Moho married Sarah Reed in 1801. George mar- 
ried Mary Bancroft, Jan. 3, 1774, and died July 30, 1784. It 
was the custom of Dinah to be drawn every winter on a sled 
by the young men of the tribe to Dorchester, to visit the 
graves of her ancestors. My grandfather has seen her on 
one of these pilgrimages ; and Edward Everett, in his ora- 
tion at Dorchester, in 1855, said that " within his remem- 
brance one of the tribe used to come down once or twice a 
year to the seaside, hover a day or two around Squantum, 
stroll off into the woods, and with plaintive wailings cut away 
the bushes from an ancient mound, which, as he thought, 
covered the ashes of his fathers, and then went back, a silent, 
melancholy man, — the last of a perishing race." 

It being then the custom to pay bounties for rattlesnakes, 
we find that in 1770 Hannah Moho brought two to the select- 
men. They cut off the rattles, and paid her is. \d. 


George Moho lived in a hut about midway between the 
Turnpike and Indian Lane, northwest of the Henry house, 
where Daniel Croud lived in 1855. He married Mary 
Bancroft in June, 1774. She died July 14, 1818 ; he in 
1804. Sept. 29, 1789, Mr. Benjamin Tucker and Mr. David 
Talbot went to Dinah Moho's in search of a sheep that had 
been stolen, and were successful in finding one that was dead 
but warm ; they then went to the wigwam of George, and 
found nothing. Nevertheless a warrant was issued against 
Asa and George, and they were accordingly tried at Captain 
Bent's tavern, known as the Eagle Inn. 

George Moho's daughter Margery married, in 1794, Can- 
ada Reed, of Sandwich; after his death, she married Joel 
Hclden, and lived in a wigwam in the woods west of the 
York schoolhouse. Upon the death of Holden she married 
Samuel Freeman, Sept. 2, 18 13. The last record I have of 
George Moho is that he died May 31, 1837. 

The nine children of Margery and Samuel Freeman lie 
side by side in the Indian half-acre near Indian Lane. I have 
seen persons who have attended funerals there, and am told 
that the person still lives who dug the graves of some of the 
Freeman family. Whether this man was descended from 
Cuff Freeman, who was a negro slave of Capt. Charles 
Wentworth, and who married Mary Robin about 1752, I 
am not informed. 

An ancient diary records. May 5, 1767, "A negro woman, 
wife of a white man, buried from Moho's." 

Muddy Pond is embraced within the York wilderness, and 
near its borders many Indians lived and died. One old 
Indian kept in his wigwam a ready-made coffin, — a precau- 
tion which was perhaps warranted by some experience he had 
gained by attending the funerals of his tribe. A sad story 
is told of the death of Indian George, who, while fishing in 
this pond, fell from his rudely constructed raft into the water 
and never was seen again, his straw hat floating on the pond, 
and his unoccupied raft, alone revealing the manner of his 

The name of Simon George is frequently seen on early 


deeds and documents. The first known of him at Ponkapoag 
was in 1706. He was one of the first to plant an orchard ; 
and in spite of all the attempts of the white settlers, he was 
enabled to hold it. The Indians were very fond of cider. 
Many of them planted orchards soon after their arrival at 
Ponkapoag, and these were excepted in the leases which the 
Indians gave to the first settlers. But in 1768 Robert Red- 
man fenced in his orchard, containing sixteen acres, and 
threatened the Indians with death if they dared to take an 
apple from the trees which they themselves had planted, nor 
would he allow them to gather cranberries for their own sup- 
port; but the loss of the cider was the hardest to bear. " The 
apples are now coming on," they say ; " and we set great 
store by our apples, and hope that we shall have some, not 
only to eat, but to make cyder, — a liquid very peculiar to the 
aboriginal gust." Another orchard was situated near Muddy 
Pond. Simon George's orchard was situated at the corner 
of Ragged Row and Burr Lane ; it contained from seven to 
ten acres. In 1732 the Indian commissioners allowed " him 
and his squaw the liberty to improve, for their own personal 
benefit, as much of the land that was that year devoted to 
John Wentworth and William Sherman as they shall see cause 
,to use." Here he resided; here four of his children — Debo- 
rah, who married Berry Miller, Oct. 30, 1750; Abigail ; Sam- 
uel, who married Hannah Momentaug in 1752 ; and Hannah 
— were born. One of his sons, Mathias, went into the service 
in 1747, and died soon after. His wife, Abigail, is mentioned 
in 1765 as old Abigail George ; and on June 5 of the follow- 
ing year we find the record of her death. 

Simon George departed for the happy hunting-ground in 
1739, in full belief that — 

" admitted to that equal sky, 
His faithful dog should bear him company." 

Simon George gave all rights in his place to Jacob Wilbor, 
who" married, Jan. 9, 1781, Mary Will, by whom he had a son 
who was buried in the Indian graveyard nearly west of his 
father's house. After the death of her first husband she 


married Seymour Burr. She lies buried in the Canton Ceme- 
tery, and the inscription upon her gravestone is as follows : 

" In memory of Mrs. Mary, wife of Semore Burr, a Revolutionary 
pensioner. She died in Canton, November i, 1852, aged loi years, 
last of the native Punkapog Indians. 

" Like the leaves in November, so sure to decay, 
Have the Indian tribes all passed away. 
Mary's Christian feature on earth was a true Methodist ; 
Above, her spirit now rests in sweet heavenly rest." 

In regard to her age there has been controversy. The 
tradition among her neighbors asserts that she was born on 
the night of the great Lisbon earthquake, which occurred on 
the 1 8th of November, 1755. Her husband made oath when 
he applied for a pension in 1820 that she was then sixty-six 
years old. 

Seymour Burr was born in Africa, and was said to have 
been the son of a prince. At the age of seven years he was 
kidnapped and brought to America, and was purchased by 
Seymour Burr, — a farmer living in Connecticut, a connection 
of Aaron Burr. Although he was treated kindly by his mas- 
ter, he bemoaned his condition of servitude, and incited a 
number of his friends to attempt an escape. Their plan was 
to steal a boat and put off, in the hopes of reaching the 
British army, and so gaining their freedom ; but the boat was 
overtaken by their masters, who were armed, and they quietly 
surrendered and went home. The astonishment of Seymour 
was great when, in place of the corporal punishment which 
he expected, his master reminded him of the kindness with 
which he always had been treated, and inquired what had in- 
duced him to leave his old home and go away with foreigners. 
Burr replied, " I want my liberty." His owner, fearing that 
he might be more successful in another attempt, or perhaps 
touched with sympathy by his appeal, made the proposition 
to him that if Burr would give him his bounty money and 
enlist in the American army, he should, at the end of the war 
be a free man. Burr accepted the offer with alacrity, willing 
to undergo any peril that would bring him his freedom. He 


accordingly fulfilled his part of the agreement, and served 
faithfully as a private in Captain Colburn's company, in the 
regiment commanded by Colonel, afterward Governor, John 
Brooks. He was present at the siege of Fort Catskill, en- 
during much misery from hunger and cold, and received his 
reward of freedom at the close of his term of enlistment. 
Seymour Burr with the Widow Wilbor settled on the estate 
of her former husband. On Dec. 24, 1805, he received a 
deed from the guardians of the Ponkapoag Indians of about 
six acres of the same land of which Simon George had pre- 
viously had the improvement, and so became the master of 
George's wigwam. We have written " master," but it would 
appear that there were times when the heart even of this 
brave soldier faltered, and when for the moment he wished 
himself elsewhere. When his wife threatened and abused 
him, he would mutter in his broken English, " You Injun ; I 
nigger. You kill me; I no kill you." He died Feb. 17, 1837, 
and is buried in the Canton Cemetery; no stone designates 
the grave. He left two daughters, but no sons. In 1855 a 
grandson who took the name of Lemuel Burr was living in 
Boston. There were, in 1861, seven of the name of Burr liv- 
ing. Seymour Burr also owned a tract of land through which 
the Turnpike now passes, which land Samuel Morse purchased 
of Dr. John Sprague, and which came into Burr's possession 
by an exchange. 

The name of Bancraft, or Bancroft, has usually been consid- 
ered an Indian name ; but Robert, who on his first arrival 
resided in a hut in the woods near Ponkapoag Pond, was 
designated as an Englishman. He lived with Elizabeth 
Pickett, " a real white woman." He was called " Doctor," 
and died Oct. 26, 1786. After Bancroft's death his widow 
was married by Parson Smith to one Taylor, a sailor, and she 
afterward was known in all warrants as Bet Taylor. Con- 
stable John French so designated her when in 1789 he carried 
her with her children out of town. She subsequently mar- 
ried Asa Moho. Asa had a son John who lived with Abigail 
Moho, whom the wise men of a former generation asserted to 
be " half Indian and half negro." 


From John and Abigail came Jeremiah. Tradition says 
that his mother was named Wood, and he is said to have 
been born in a wigwam wliich stood near the place where 
the Providence Railroad passes the ancient homestead of the 
Taunts. While they lived here, the squaw used to go to 
Fountain Head and fill her apron with speckled turtles, which 
on her return she would throw into the hot embers to cook. 

The place known as the Bancroft farm, in 1803, was south 
of York Pond, near Indian Lane. In 1827 Jeremiah had a 
hut west of the house of William Henry, not far from the 
Turnpike. He was obliged to remove this when Charles 
Tucker purchased the land on which it stood. Two years 
later he purchased three quarters of an acre of land 
bounded east and south on Indian Lane. The cellar- hole 
can still be seen at a bend in the road a few rods beyond 
the last house' on Indian Lane as one goes toward York. I 
have pleasant recollections of a visit to this house some 
twenty years ago, and of listening to the ancient legends and 
folk-lore from the lips of one of the tribe. 

The following account of the adventures of Jerry Bancroft 
was related by Jerry himself, about 1828, in the hearing of 
Mr. Nathaniel Vose. 

He said that at a certain period of his life he was im- 
pressed on board a Spanish man-of-war, and served long 
enough to acquire the speech of its crew. When the ship 
touched at a port on the western coast of South America, he 
was carried ashore and sold as a slave. He was soon placed 
upon a plantation in a gang under an overseer. One warm 
day the overseer lay down in the shade to enjoy a siesta. 
Jerry, who was at work in the garden with a spade, waited 
for his opportunity, and then, as he expressed it, " patted 
him with the spade." Jerry then made his escape and started 
across the continent; he was well treated by the natives, and 
reached the Atlantic seaboard in safety, and got passage 
home. Jerry Bancroft was buried Sept. 29, 1840. 

One of this family, bearing the name of its ancestor, 
George, fell in love with Abigail Capen, whose father, Chris- 
topher, had purchased land on Indian Lane. His house 


stood on the northerly side of Indian Lane, between the 
houses marked A. Tilden and D. Croud on the map of 
Canton published in 1855; his old well can be seen from 
the road. He forbade his daughter to have anything to 
say to Bancroft, and locked her up in her room ; she made 
her escape in the night, joined her lover, and they were mar- 
ried on the 28th of December, 1779. From her are descended 
persons of ability in Essex County. Sivery Bancroft's wig- 
wam was on the northerly side of the road that leads from 
Indian Lane to York Pond before reaching the brook, almost 
directly west of the southerly end of the pond. The Widow 
Elizabeth was living in 1861. She was probably born in the 
last century.. Jeremiah and Thomas are still living; with 
both I have had the pleasure of talking over the old 

In 1768 Aaron Wentworth writes the following letter to the 
selectmen of the town : — 

" These are to inform you that I took into my house, Berry, a 
negro man, — came last from Milton in November, 1767 ; how long 
he will tarry I don't know." 

He came to Ponkapoag as other slaves came, to marry an 
Indian wife, for then his children would be free, as the law 
in those days was that the children of Indian women were 
free-born. This man was mentioned in 1750 as a slave be- 
longing to Samuel Miller, Esq., of Milton; he took his mas- 
ter's surname, and subsequently, as a free negro, appears to 
have married Deborah George in 1750. We hear that his 
wife Hannah, an Indian woman, was buried by the rector of 
the Enghsh church, July 24, 1769; and September 24 of 
the same year he appeared at the church, and after the 
evening service was married by the ritual of the Church of 
England to Sarah Will. In the list of the names of heads of 
families belonging to the Church of England in Canton in 
1767, appears that of Berry Miller. Sarah Berry in 1780 
made her mark in receipt for money expended in the 
support of -"y^ Wid. Adlington." She died on the 24th of 
November, 1781, at Smithfield, R. I., aged sixty-seven years. 


was brought to her old home for burial, and lies in the 
Indian graveyard near Indian Lane. The house occupied 
by Berry Miller stood between York Pond and the easterly 
and southerly lines of the Ponkapoag Plantation; the cellar 
still can be identified. This house was built by Wills subse-- 
quent to his residence in the " tree cellar " house. After his 
death Berry Miller took the property with the live-stock. 
He married the widow of Isaac Williams, who also at one 
time lived in this house. 

The first colored man in Canton, named Isaac Williams, ap- 
pears in 1 719. His father was imported from Africa, though 
he was born in Roxbury, and was a slave of Dr. Williams, 
whose surname he adopted. When on Nov. 8, 1775, Isaac 
Williams married Elizabeth Wills, he hailed from Dedham. 
She had lived in the family of Dr. Holden of Dorchester, 
and is spoken of as a woman of " pure, unmixed Ponkapoag 
blood." David Talbot employed Isaac Williams to assist him 
on his farm in 1789 ; and he was, upon his marriage, admitted 
as a member of the tribe by its guardian. He is said to have 
received a pension for his services in the Revolutionary War. 
If this is so, the events of a certain day in December, i Tj^, 
when he was arrested as a deserter and sent to ja:il by the 
Committee of Correspondence, must have been forgotten or 
atoned for. He lies buried in the Stoughton graveyard, 
where a stone marks his last resting-place. His widow lived 
to be over one hundred years old, bedridden and blind. She 
died Feb. 3, 1848. 

It would appear that the Indians had some interest in cer- 
tain lots of land, — possibly of occupancy or of cutting wood. 
As early as 1789 a certain piece of woodland containing 
eighteen acres was sold for the benefit of the Indians to Jabin 
Fisher, and was then known as the Williams lot, designated 
as in Mount Hunger. It is bounded on the north by Muddy 
Fond and on the east by land of Seymour Burr. This land 
has been owned successively by the Withington and Lewis 
families ; and about twenty years ago it passed into the pos- 
session of Horace Guild. There is a cellar-hole on this lot, 
by which runs an ancient driftway, or bridle-path. 



Isaac Williams purchased the land on which he built his 
house in 1803 ; the cellar-hole of this house, in which he died, 
is still to be seen on the York Pond road about an eighth of 
a mile south of York Pond. In 18 13 he added thirty-nine 
acres adjoining the original purchase. 

Amasa Williams was styled during the early part of this 
century an Indian mulatto of the Ponkapoag tribe. He was 
the son of Isaac, and followed the sea. On one of his voy- 
ages he made a miniature man-of-war, rigged and mounted 
her, took her to York Pond, loaded all her guns, arranged 
his slow-match so that they would all go off at once, and 
touched a match to her; the annihilation of the craft was 
complete. He died Feb. 13, 1827. He is buried in the old 
graveyard at Stoughton, and is said to have been a mem- 
ber of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Masons. In 1861 
Isaac Williams, then over sixty years of age, was living. His 
wife died April 18, 1849. 

William Croud married Sarah, daughter of Nuff Wills, 
Aug. 15, 1783. He remained in Canton until 1784, when he 
removed to Smithfield, R. I., and in 18 19 was living at Wood- 
stock. He left a son, William, Jr., baptized in 1783, who 
figured with no credit to himself in this vicinity until 1812. 
Another son, Daniel, was born about 1792, and was well 
known as an exemplary unassuming Christian man, who 
built honest walls. He was married at the house of Seymour 
Burr, by the Rev. Benjamin Huntoon, Sept. 2, 1824, to 
Betsey Digans ; after her death he married Lydia Harrison, 
a white woman of Natick. His children and grandchildren 
are still living on Indian Lane, and are owners by purchase 
of the very land which was given to their ancestors by Eliot's 

Daniel W. Croud, a member of the Fifth Massachusetts 
Cavalry during the war, died in Canton, Dec. 19, 1883, aged 
fifty-eight years. There were sixteen of the name recorded 
as living in 1861. 

One of the daughters of Dinah Moho, named Mary, mar- 
ried Caesar Elisha, May 17, 1769. He was a former negro slave 
of Capt. Charles Wentworth. They had a daughter, Louisa, 


who married, in 1795, Uriah Low, and, Aug. 18, 1797, Peter 
Robertson. His son Lewis married, in 1792, Rachel Corden, 
or Cordner ; the ancient record says, " both of the Moho 

The house of Lewis Elisha stood on what is now the south- 
eastern border of York Pond. As the road approaches 
the pond, it is bounded on the easterly side by a wall, 
which was once the boundary of the Williams farm, now 
owned by Hiram Johnson. On the westerly side of the road- 
way, at about eighty feet from the pond, stands a large 
smooth, upright stone with an apple-tree directly in the rear 
of it, and a maple-tree a little to the southwest; this stone 
is the back of the hearth or fireplace of the Lewis Elisha 
house. Oct. 10, 1804, there was a terrific storm; the wind 
howled, and even York Pond showed white caps. Polly 
Davenport Mois was then living in this house. As the 
storm increased, Polly, alone in the old shanty, grew more 
and more frightened, and finally, mustering all the courage 
she had, left the hut and started up the pathway toward 
Berry Miller's, then living in the Williams' house. She had 
barely strength to reach the door, and as soon as she had 
succeeded in opening it, fell headlong into the room ; there 
the neighbors found her the next morning, cold and dead. 
Her body was tenderly cared for and carried to her friends 
in Dorchester, where it was buried. Her daughters — Persis, 
Mary, and Betsey — were removed by Joel Holden to Dor- 
chester in October of the following year. Lewis Elisha was 
known afterward in Andover, where he had a large family, and 
figured conspicuously in a law-suit, Andover vs. Canton, in 
1814. He married, in 1803, Hannah Richardson, the daughter 
of a mulatto father and a white mother, and died in Milton in 
1817. James Elisha, aged sixty-one years, was living in i860 ; 
and the names of William, Harriet, James F., and Maria ap- 
pear at the same time. 

On the northeast corner of Indian Lane and the road which 
leads to York Pond stands the house in which, in- 1855, ac- 
cording to the map of that date, was living Simon Willard 
Wilde. There is a small knoll in the rear of this house 


which has always borne the name of Mingo's Hill. The man 
for whom this hill was named lived near the spot on land 
adjoining that of Bancroft and Williams, bounded west by 
Indian Lane and south by the York Pond road ; his name 
was Mingo Robinson. I find among the Narragansett soldiers 
the name of William Mingo, June 24, 1676; whether his de- 
scendants added the surname of Robinson to designate them- 
selves is an open question. It was the good fortune of 
Mingo to possess in 1769 one of those royal jewels which 
had descended on one side at least from the ancient sachems 
of Massachusetts. He married one of Dinah Moho's daugh- 
ters, named in honor of her illustrious mother, Dinah. 

The family of Hunter is very ancient. On Sept. 21, 1675, 
Thomas Hunter and Benjamin Ahauton were among the Pon- 
kapoag Indians who marched with Captain Prentice against 
the hostile Indians. In October of the same year John Hunter, 
with others, had permission given him by the General Court 
" to passe and repasse between Puncapaug and the place as- 
signed to them near Joseph Belchar's for the conveyance of 
their goods." In 1717 George Hunter signed deeds of im- 
portance, and went to Milton on a cold October day to marry 
Betty Nateant. 

Old Sarah Hunter had a house built for her in 1767, but 
she did not enjoy it long. Soon after, she was taken sick, 
and Lydia Waterman was sent for, — one skilled in all the 
ancient arts of healing and the use of herbs ; Lydia nursed 
Sarah till the nth of May, 1768, when she died. Parson 
Dunbar rode over to the funeral on horseback, said just 
what he thought about her, and was presented with a pair of 
gloves for his pains. A granddaughter of hers, named Bette 
Hunter, is mentioned as dying Aug. 12, 1766. 

Elisha Mannumian, or Menumion, was one of the Ponka- 
poag Indians who leased land to the English squatters in 
1706. He was the son of William, who in his palmy days 
was the owner of a tract of land in the Nipmuck country, 
which extended two miles each way. It adjoined land pur- 
chased by Mr. William Stoughton, probably in what is 
now the town of Charlton. In 1682 William was described 


as " falling into a languishing state of body." He ran into 
debt, and drank up all his property, and was obliged to sell 
his land. Probably Harriet, whose name appears in 1717, 
was his daughter. 

There are many of the Ponkapoag Indians whose names 
only appear once or twice on any record, — Bette Solomon, 
1754; Mary Peters, 1735; Hester Cole, 1717; and Phineas 
and Patience Cole in 1747. The first minister of Canton had 
an Indian servant. She died July i, 171 8. Her name was 
Hannah Spywood. Pomponechum has been preserved in 
the name of a swamp. We also know that " Wachennakin 
lived at Peckunitt," and two more men with unpronounceable 
names — Monnoccumut and Manantaligin — encumbered 
some portion of this desolate space. From 1667 to 1735 we 
meet with the name of Hezekiah Squaumaug, and in 1717 of 
Rebecca, Uneal descendants of the great Chicataubut, who 
was sachem when the Pilgrims landed. 

The family of Quok was also an ancient family. John is 
seen in 171 7; Timothy was in the expedition to Carthagena 
in 1740; Zachariah died in 1741 ; and James was living in 
1753. Quok Mattrick, a soldier of the Revolution, who mar- 
ried Chloe Howard in 1788, may have been named from this 
family. Hon. James M. Robbins, of Milton, informs me that 
when a boy he was very much frightened at the cry, " The 
Quoks are coming." Sucamugg is another name which ap- 
pears in 1719. Mary died in 1738; Sue in 1754. Experience 
lost a daughter in 1759; and as late as Feb. 20, 1771, Mary 
married Thomas Mitchell, Jr. He died Dec. 4, 1810, aged 
ninety-two years. 

Robert Burrill came from Braintree and took up his resi- 
dence with Thomas Penniman in 1764. His wife's name was 
Mary; and at that time he had two children, — one named for 
his wife, and the other named for him. David is seen in 
1765. There were half a dozen of this name living on In- 
dian Lane in i860, and the name of David was perpetuated. 
I remember seeing a row of Burrills in the York School when 
visiting it in 1866. 

Moses Marendash was published to marry Lydia Jones on 


May 31, 1733 ; but on the 2d of June she changed her mind, 
and sent her uncle Jonathan to have the notice taken down. 
This was done, but she was still unsatisfied ; and on July 6, 
1734, the notice was posted a second time. 

Jonathan Capen was appointed to take the place of Joseph 
Billings as guardian of the Ponkapoag Indians, June 17, 1767. 
The following notice shortly afterward appeared in the Bos- 
ton papers : — 

Stoughton, July 30, 1797. 

The subscriber having been appointed by the Great and General 
Court in their last session Guardian of the Punkapaug Indians, notice 
is hereby given to all persons not to trust or give credit to any of the 
said Indians, as no debts of their contracting will be paid without the 
consent of the said Guardian. 

Jonathan Capen. 

Nuff Wills, a negro, was a tenant of Capen's, and is said, 
after Capen built a new house, to have lived in his old one. 
He moved to Williams' old place nearly north of his former 
residence. His daughter Hannah seems to have been called 
after the Christian name of her father; she is reported to 
have married or lived with a Bancroft. Elizabeth married 
Isaac Williams; and Mary, Wilbor and then Burr. 

Sarah, the widow of Nuff Wills, married Berry Miller, and 
her daughter Sarah married William Croud. Jacob is seen 
in 1788. 

The number of the Ponkapoag Indians in the towns of 
Canton and Stoughton, as taken by Nathaniel Fisher and 
Samuel Talbot, who wer^ appointed to procure the informa- 
tion in 1784, was of males, twenty-one; of females, thirty-one. 
There were two males and two females in the families of 
Robert Bancroft, Jr., and George Moho respectively. Asa 
Moho appears to have lived alone. William Croud's family 
contained two males and one female, and Sarah Berry's, one 
male and two females. Isaac Williams and Jacob Wilbor are 
classed with blacks ; and two are mentioned as " at Tucker's." 

The Ponkapoag Indians had made complaint to the Gen- 
eral Court as early as 1668 that other Indians, who were 
unfriendly to their tribe, had visited them as soon as the 


snow was off, and had done them much mischief. It was 
for this reason, and also as a protection to the English living 
to the north of them, that they built a good and " deffenci- 
ble " fort, which should protect them from these predatory 
excursions. This fort was nearly completed in 1675 > ^^^ the 
Major of Suffolk was ordered to appoint out of the towns of 
Dorchester, Milton, and Braintree sixteen or twenty soldiers, 
who should reside at " Punckepauge," and in conjunction 
with the Indians, should go on scouting parties through the 
woods, and give warning of the approach of the enemy or 
any strange Indians. In August, 1675, Corporal Swift was 
doing garrison duty at this fort with a number of soldiers.^ 
The exact' site of this fort is unknown ; tradition says that a 
stockade, or garrison-house, stood on the land owned by Mr. 
Samuel Bright. This was not a garrison-house, for such 
houses were surrounded with walls of stone. It may have 
stood on Powder House Hill, on the Taunton Old Way. 

On a record of the Indian inhabitants belonging or con- 
nected with the Ponkapoag tribe in 1861 appears the name 
of Rebecca Davis, aged seventy-one. " Her mother [says an 
old letter which I have copied] was a Moho ; her father un- 
known." Her first husband was Abel Lewis, a mulatto, who 
was a wandering musician, descended from quite a prominent 
family, — the Bensons of the Natick tribe. Her second hus- 
band's name was Black; he had unfortunately sworn "to 
love, honor, and obey" another woman before he married 
Rebecca ; but as she lived to a good old age, we surmise that 
she did not wear away from regret at his departure. Aunt 
Becky was in the habit of visiting Canton in her last years. 
She used to come out from Boston just before Thanksgiving; 
and her old friends furnished her with pork, eggs, turkeys, 
and other comforts. She gained some money by the sale 
of a salve, which she prepared from herbs according to the 
prescription of some ancient medicine-man. 

It is impossible to fix exactly the site of the Indian places 
of worship. Gookin says that when he describes Natick, the 
first Praying Town, he describes all the Praying Towns. 
1 See Appendix IV. 


Now, Ponkapoagwas the second Praying Town, and of course 
had a meeting-house. I judge the first one to have been 
situated where the little graveyard is, — between Ponkapoag 
Village of to-day and Aunt Katy's Brook. In 1707 the Indians 
relinquished their right in about three acres of land for a 
burying-place and a cemetery. Now, there was no person 
buried in the Canton Cemetery until 1716; and persons were 
interred in the Proprietors' Lot at Ponkapoag ten if not 
sixteen years earlier. There is no record of the building of 
any meeting-house before 1707; and then the inhabitants 
were ordered " to remove the meeting-house or build a new 
one." The new one was built at Canton Corner. Perhaps 
the English settlers bought it ; it is more probable that they 
got it as they did their land. 

In 1 741 the Indians presented a petition to the General 
Court in which they said that they were in a sad condition ; 
that the infirmities of age were creeping upon them, and they 
could do little or nothing toward obtaining a livelihood. They 
prayed that some of their interest-money might be expended 
for clothes, and that :^ioo might be devoted to the building 
of a meeting-house to be placed at some convenient point on 
the Indian land. In order to strengthen their appeal, they 
attached to the petition the names of Amos Ahauton, the 
preacher, and also that of Simon George. Amos told the guar- 
dian, Mr. Quincy, that he never saw the petition and never 
signed it, and that Simon George was dead. In spite of this, 
it would appear that the house was built for Amos, the 
preacher, and Martha, his wife, and of such proportions that 
it would accommodate all the Ihdians as well as his own 
family. But in a short time their promise to meet together 
on the Lord's Day and hold religious worship was broken ; 
laziness and rum made sad havoc among them. They prob- 
ably all got drunk; and they alleged that Amos, instructing 
them to do as he said, not as he did, had given himself up to 
excessive drinking, and that they did not want to hear him 
any more as a preacher. Certain it is that in the winter of 
1743 he was in reduced circumstances, and had one, and only 
one son, who was dying of consumption ; and he asked leave 


" to sell two and a half acres of land for his comfortable 
support in his old age." In consideration of these misfor- 
tunes the General Court gave him assistance. 

The Indians were assured that if they would attend Mr. 
Dunbar's meeting, seats would be provided for them. They 
made the reply that they did not understand Mr. Dunbar; 
that they knew of but one Indian who ever attended Mr. 
Dunbar's church, and he was dead. 

There is a tradition that there was a meeting-house on 
Burr Lane. I know of no reason to believe it. 

The Rev. Charles Chauncy, D. D., as early as 1762, in writ- 
ing of the labors of Eliot and others to plant churches among 
the Indians, thus traces their gradual diminution : — 

" Some of these churches are running to this day with English or 
Indian pastors at their head, though they are, it must be confessed 
and lamented, in a declining state. The Indians within this and the 
neighboring provinces have strangely diminished ; a few only are left. 
. . . Within my remembrance the Indians at Punkapog, an ancient 
settlement within fifteen miles of Boston, were considerably numerous, 
but there are few now remaining. I can assign no other cause for this 
strange fact than the necessity these Indians were under, by being 
surrounded by English towns, to change their simple, plain way of 
living for ours." 

There was a meeting-house on Indian Lane. The exact 
site of this house has fortunately been preserved. Samuel 
Capen, of Stoughton, an indefatigable antiquary, has shown 
its site to me, and told me that his grandfather James remem- 
bered the meeting-house, and that John Eliot preached in it. 

Directly south of the house of Daniel Croud, on the map of 
1855, there are two walls running west from Indian Lane 
parallel to each other, forming a country lane, a short dis- 
tance down which another wall meets the north wall at a right 
angle ; and west of this wall stood the meeting-house. It is not 
wonderful that the scholarly productions of Mr. Dunbar, who 
could quote Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, were not understood 
by these people. It is related that Deacon Jonathan Capen 
once went to hear an Indian preacher in this meeting-house. 


and was astonished when the text was announced as, " Tell no 
more lies than needs must." They knew what that meant, 
and it conformed to their idea of Christianity. 

The places of Indian sepulchre in Canton known to me are 
five. One was on the extreme northern boundary of the 
Ponkapoag Plantation, near the pond, on the ancient Redman 
farm, now owned by Henry L. Pierce. It is near a field that 
I visited some years ago, to see, before the land was broken 
up, hills that had remained since the Indians reaped their 
corn there. Excavation at the site of the burying-place re- 
vealed nothing, although the workmen in several instances 
dug seven feet into the soil. 

On Chapman Street is a piece of land called the " Stone 
lot," from its having been owned in early days by Daniel 
Stone. Mr. Asa Shepard tells me that he has seen rough 
unlettered head and foot stones on that land. 

Directly east of the Sherman schoolhouse on Ragged Row, 
there is an Indian burying-ground. It is easily reached from 
Burr Lane, and is not far from Simon George's orchard. 
Here are buried Simon George and his squaw. Here also 
was deposited in a grave dug by Abijah Upham in October, 
1788, all that was mortal of Jacob Wilbor. Some of his 
children were also buried here. 

In that part of the town known as Mount Hunger Fields, - 
is an ancient Indian burying-ground. Some years ago I vis- 
ited it, and the excavations made resulted as at Ponkapoag 
in finding nothing. This is near the spot where in my boy- 
hood were charcoal-pits. The land was owned twenty years 
ago by the heirs of Laban Lewis. 

The most modern Indian burial-place is not far from In- 
dian Lane. I find the first record of it in 1760, and have 
conversed with persons who have attended the burial of 
Indians in this graveyard within fifty years. Its location is 
easily ascertainable. A driftway, or bridle-path, leads from 
Indian Lane to within a few rods of it. It is hard to distin- 
guish the mounds, and some believe that the ground has been 
ploughed; but the stones picked up in the neighboring fields 
and placed at the head and foot of the graves show that 


no plough has ever disturbed this quiet place, and that some 
attempt has been made at regularity of interments. When 
the guardians, in 1790, gave a deed of the sixteen acres ad- 
joining, they declared that this half-acre was reserved as a 
burial-place for the tribe, and also that the tribe should have 
the liberty to pass and repass by the leading way then com- 
monly used. William Henry, the purchaser, was allowed 
to use it for pasturage, or plant it with corn, but it was 
distinctly stipulated that this sacred place should not be 
ploughed or tilled. A thick growth of wood now covers 
the land, which half a century ago was an open field. Be- 
sides Indians of pure blood, several mestees and at least one 
white person are buried here, — the white person being 
Hulda Green, who died at the house of Mr. Croud. 

There is a rock on the Bailey farm at Packeen, which 
has a cleft in it, and is believed to be a place where the 
Indians used to grind their corn. It is admirably adapted for 
such a purpose. In this part of the town there is a large 
rock known as Fairbanks's rock ; it rises abruptly in the midst 
of wood and underbrush, and on the westerly side is an open- 
ing where six or eight men could easily find refuge. Here 
one Fairbanks secreted himself in order to avoid the officers 
of the law. It would appear that an Indian in passing saw 
Fairbanks, and greeted him with offensive words and ges- 
tures, whereupon Fairbanks, on the impulse of the moment, 
fired a charge of buckshot at the Indian, from the effects 
of which he died. The name of Fairbanks's meadow in the 
immediate vicinity appears in 1717; and it has continued to 
bear this name to the present time. There is a barn standing 
on the Endicott homestead, composed of the timbers of an 
earlier building, against which an Indian is said to have 
dashed out the brains of a little child. An Indian is reported 
as having shot a white man as he was about to enter the 
house of Moses Gill, one of the first settlers of Canton. 

In nearly all parts of the town implements once used by 
the Indians have been found ; arrow and spear heads, pestles 
and axe-heads, and sometimes pipes, have been collected and 
preserved. Within a few years, boys descended from the first 


Wentworths — -who came from York, Maine, on account of 
the Indian slaughter, and named a part of Canton for their 
old home — found on the shore of Reservoir Pond more 
than a dozen arrow-heads and a portion of a pipe with an 
attempt at ornamentation upon it. On the farm now owned 
by Alfred Lewis, the Canton Historical Society inspected, on 
one of their Fast Day walks, a fine collection. Implements 
have been found on the Redman farm at Ponkapoag, and on 
Packeen Plain, now Canton Corner. Miss Olive Richards of 
Sharon has fine specimens of pestles ; and another family 
of the same name have a magnificent specimen of a stone 

In 1783 the guardians applied for liberty to sell more of 
the Indian land, although one authority asserts that there 
were only thirty Indians in the town. On the other hand, 
Mrs. Tilden, the mother of Abner, is reported as saying that 
there were fifty families of Indians in her day, and that in 
driving in the vicinity of York, Indian Lane, and Spring- 
dale, one would meet more Indians than whites. In 1813 
there was a small estate belonging to the tribe ; and a com- 
mittee of the General Court was appointed, of which Elijah 
Dunbar was chairman, to attend to such claims as were 
presented by Indians in want; and if worthy, the guardian 
was ordered to make payments to them or provide for their 

Hon. Thomas French, gifardian, in 1827 sold the last 
piece of Indian land. In the year 1861 John Milton Earl 
was appointed by the Governor and Council to examine into 
the condition of the Indians in the Commonwealth. The 
commission reported it expedient that these Indians should 
receive the rights of citizenship. In due course of time 
this was accomplished, and the office of guardian was abol- 
ished. The commissioner's report in 1849 put the whole 
number of the tribe at ten, — four males and six females; 
and the guardian's report in 1857 says the " Punkapog tribe 
of Indians is nearly extinct; only some fifteen or twenty, 
and those mostly of mixed blood, remain." The report 
continues: — 


" The Punkapogs have no organization. Both in Canton and else- 
where they enjoy educational and religious privileges in common with 
others, and avail themselves thereof to the extent that is usual with 
those in their condition of life. The children attend the public 
schools, and some members of the tribe are connected with the 
churches where they reside. The Punkapogs are a quiet and peace- 
able race, and are believed to be as moral as those of the same condi- 
tion in life in the general community with which they are commingled. 
Ten of them are possessed of property, and only three of them are 
known to hold real estate. It is claimed by some members of the 
tribe that there is a tract of land, including a valuable cranberry 
meadow, which was a part of the original reservation that has never 
been legally alienated, but is wrongfully held by others to the deroga- 
tion of the Indian rights. Complaint thereupon was verbally made 
to the Commissioner, but at so late a period as to preclude a public 
hearing of the case. The commissioner is informed that the subject 
has been before a former Legislature, and was referred to a special 
committee, who reported leave to withdraw." 




THE Indians had received their land from the town of 
Dorchester with the distinct understanding that they 
were not to sell it The colony had passed a statute in 1633, 
making null and void all sales and conveyances of land from 
the Indians. The substance of this Act was re-enacted by the 
General Court in 1701, which declared that whereas "sundry 
persons for lucre have presumed to make purchases of land, 
all such sales, leases, etc., shall be null and void, and the 
purchaser thereof shall be punished with fine or imprison- 
ment unless the approbation of the General Court has been 
first obtained." In spite of this Act, the early settlers of our 
town squatted on the Indian land. The Indians began to 
give, and the English, " who had thrust themselves among 
them," to receive leases, on long terms, of the land lying in 
the Ponkapoag Plantation. These transactions coming to the 
knowledge of the General Court, it declared that such of the 
inhabitants as claimed to hold by leases from the Indians 
since 1700 were illegal and unjust intruders; that divers indi- 
gent, profligate persons had " insinuated " themselves upon 
the Indians, and obtained their leases and grants by fraud, 
without the knowledge and approbation of the government, 
and contrary to law and order. It ordered that they forth- 
with should be ejected, unless within sixty days they sub- 
mitted their leases for the inspection of the Governor and 
Council, who might grant new leases of equal extent and 
value outside the reservation, the money to be applied for the 
support of the Indians. A committee was appointed to make 
inquiry into the alleged encroachments, and report. John 
Leverett, Inspector, in his report, said that in the plantation 


at Ponkapoag there were a number of English settlements 
upon leases taken from the Indians. He informed the Gov- 
ernor that, about three years before, he went to Ponkapoag, 
and sent for the most considerable English inhabitants, and 
demanded by what right they had built upon and improved 
the lands in that plantation. Then they showed him their 
leases ; upon which he asked them if they were ignorant of 
the law of the colony of 1633. They pleaded their igno- 
rance of such law, and prayed that they might not be ruined 
through their want of knowledge. It would appear from the 
diary of Judge Sewall that he was present at Deacon Swift's, 
at Milton, when Mr. Leverett, on April 9, 1706, "discoursed" 
about the intruders at Ponkapoag. 

The settlers, it seems, were not much terrified by Mr. Lev- 
erett's visit, for they sent no word to him, nor did they apply 
to him for a proper remedy ; but undoubtedly considering 
that their title was not to be questioned, they went on im- 
proving the land, and inviting others to join them. Mr. 
Leverett, hearing of this, went, with Mr. Swift, and desired 
the English inhabitants to meet him at Pecunit, and told 
them that if within six weeks he did not hear from them, 
they should hear from him in a manner little agreeable to 
them. This tone and language produced the desired effect ; 
and the settlers prayed that they might not be severely dealt 
with, after they had built houses and redeemed the land from 
the wilderness. 

The holders of these leases, some of whom were the first 
settlers of Canton, were summoned to appear before the 
Continental Court, to be holden in Boston on the i8th of 
August, 1706. 

The following are their names, — Jonathan Badcock, Henry 
Bailey, John Davenport, Gilbert Endicott, Benjamin Esty, 
John Esty, Moses Gill, Abraham How, John Jordan, Thomas 
Kelton, Nathaniel Lyon, Peter Lyon, Elias Monk, Samuel 
Pitcher, Capt Robert Spurr, Joseph Tucker, John Went- 
worth, John Wentworth, Jr., James Worth. 

The court did not deal harshly with the lessees. They 
postponed the matter until the fall session, directing the Eng- 


lish tenants to make no improvements in the mean time, 
either by cultivating the soil or by erecting buildings. 

The court again appointed a committee to examine into 
the alleged encroachments, and report. A petition from the 
Indians themselves was received, begging that their English 
neighbors — who had been very kind to them, and to whom 
they had leased their land — might not be disturbed in the 
quiet possession of it. The Indians represented that they 
had enjoyed their land under the protection of Dorchester for 
about fifty years ; that in time of war the town had assisted 
them by sending soldiers to protect them, and otherwise in- 
terested itself in their welfare and comfort. They also stated 
that they had hired out some of their land to their English 
neighbors, because they had more than they or their children 
could or would improve, and that these leases were given by 
the consent of the town of Dorchester, and the advice of " the 
Hon. Mr. Stoton." They prayed that they might still hold 
their land from Dorchester as formerly, and that their English 
neighbors might continue undisturbed with them. 

Nov. 20, 1706, the House of Representatives, finding that 
the tribe of Indians at " Puncapaog " derived their title from 
Dorchester, and having been informed that the town had 
voted to allow them the liberty of their leases taken from 
the Indians so long as the Indians lived upon the said lands, 
ordered "that the leases be allowed, but that no more be 
made without the consent of Dorchester ; and in case the 
tribe become extinct, the land should revert to the town of 

All parties agreeing that Dorchester was to manage the 
matter, the town voted in 1706 to appoint a committee to 
attend to affairs at Ponkapoag, and decide all matters of 
difference that might arise between the English and the 
Indians ; and they were empowered to go to law upon any 
question that could not be settled amicably, if they saw fit. 
It is probable that their duties were more arduous than would 
at first appear; for undoubtedly the trouble was that some 
of the English inhabitants not only occupied the lands be- 
longing to the Indians, of which they held leases, but that 


they claimed more than was ever leased to them. Others, 
again, promptly refused to pay the rent that had been agreed 
upon ; and some, indeed, suffered from the imputation of hav- 
ing obtained their leases in the first place by fraud and deceit 
The Indians faithfully promised the town that they would not 
let or lease any more of their lands ; neither would they allow 
any saw-mills, or mills of any kind, to be set up on any of 
their streams, nor sell their timber without the consent of the 
committee appointed by the town; and in 1708 they renewed 
their promise, at the same time thanking the town for its care 
of them and their interests, in settling the boundaries between 
them and their white neighbors. 

The list of lessees before mentioned does not contain the 
names of all who held leases from the Indians. Certain it is 
that Charles Redman was a lessee of the Indian land, and 
probably had erected a house before his daughter Thankful 
was born. He " cut and mowed the grass in the meadow be- 
longing to him " as early as 1703. His lease is dated March 
I, 1704-5. The land was set down at one hundred acres, 
but in all probability exceeded that amount. It was bounded 
southerly by Ponkapoag Brook, easterly by the Braintree 
line, northerly by the Ponkapoag. line, and westerly by the 
highway that passes through Ponkapoag. For this land he 
paid a yearly rent of £2 is., money of New England. This 
lease was transferred to John Harcey, of Milton, on the nth 
of May, 1715, and again transferred to Redman, Dec. 19, 1720. 
Robert Redman, of Dorchester, who died in 1678, was the 
father of Charles, who was born Aug. 16, 1666. He was a 
soldier in Capt. John Withington's company, that marched to 
Canada in 1690; he married, Feb. 10, 1688, Martha Hill, and 
left sons, Robert and John, and daughters, Mary, Martha, 
Mercy, and Thankful. His house stood about eighteen rods 
northwest of the present residence of Henry L. Pierce. For 
the subsequent history of this farm, the reader is referred 
to " The History of the Redman Farm," compiled by Ellis 
Ames, and published in 1870. 

The following is, as far as I have been able to collate, an ac- 
count of those first settlers who held leases from the Indians. 



Jonathan Badcock was born in Dorchester in 1652. His 
lease from the Indians is dated Feb. 27, 1705. He received 
service of a writ at Ponkapoag, Aug. 18, 1706, and is pre- 
sumed to have removed to Connecticut in 1709. 

Henry Bailey seems to have assigned his lease on Nov. 24, 
1703; it was to run one hundred and ninety-eight years. 
The names of his parents are unknown ; but he had a brother 
Edward, who resided in the town of Ringwood, County of 
Hampshire, England, where he pursued the calling of a 
clothier, and died about 1 706, leaving children, Richard, 
Henry, and Frances. 

The first-mentioned Henry, one of the first settlers, died 
Nov. 12, 1717. His will was proved Nov. 25, 1717. He is 
styled weaver ; his will provides — 

" a comfortable support out of my estate for my wife, while she 
shall remain my widow ; my son Edward, sole executor, to enjoy the 
land and buildings I have already given him. I give to him all my 
movable estate, my cattle, horses, swine, and all my tools ; also if my 
cousin Henry Bailey don't come over and live here and carry on the 
farm according to my honest intent and expectation, then I give that 
land on the southeast side of Beaver Brook to my son Edward. I 
also order my son Edward to give my cousin Henry Bailey two good 
cows, when he shall be ready to settle on his land, which I have for- 
merly deeded, and a house or the use of an house, till he can get one 
of his own. I also give the half of the land to the eastward to my 
son Edward Bailey, and all my other estate not mentioned in this will ; 
and all my common rights in land I give to my son Edward. 

" I give to my daughter, Elizabeth Wentworth, the one half of my 
land at the eastward of her, and twenty shillings in money, which shall 
be paid to her within one year and a day after my decease, which shall 
be in full because she hath already received her portion. 

" Furthermore, if my cousin Henry Bailey should come over and 
settle upon the land I have given him, and die without heirs, then the 
land shall fall to my son Edward and to his heirs ; and if both my son 
Edward and my cousin Henry shall die without heirs, then all my 
land which I have given to them shall fall to, and be settled upon, 
the first male person of my father Bailey's family that I sprang from 
in old England, that shall come over and abide and settle here, and 
behave himself. 

"Sept. 3, 1716." 


Joseph Esty and Joseph Esty, Jr., were the witnesses ; and 
Joseph Esty, Joseph Hewins, and Isaac Stearns, were the 

The following is a copy of a letter written to Henry Bailey, 
of England, referred to in the will. 

Dorchester, near Boston, 
Oct. 24, 1715. 

To Henry Baii-.y, living in the town of Ringwood, in Hampshire in 
old England: 
Loving Cousin Henry Baily, — These lines are from your affec- 
tionate uncle, Henry Baily, who is, through the goodness and mercy 
of God, yet living in the town of Dorchester, near Boston, in New 
England ; and although the Providence of God hath cast me a great 
way off from my native country, yet I would not forget my native land 
nor my relations in old England. The Lord hath been very good 
and gracious to me, and hath taken care of me and my family, and 
we are all this present in tolerable health, — I and my wife and my 
son Edward (though not married) and my daughter Elizabeth, who 
is married and hath three children ; and although the Lord hath spared 
my life hitherto, yet I now grow into years, and I think it time to 
set my house in order and to dispose of that estate which God hath 
given to me in this world, by will. I have therefbre of late made my 
will ; and whereas I should be very glad to see you here in New 
England, so for your encouragement, if you see fit to come over and 
so settle here with us, I will bestow one-third part of my lands, and 
cattle and buildings upon you. If yourself cannot come over and settle 
with us, then I desire that your brother, Richard Baily, should come 
over and I will be helpful to him also. ... If you come over your- 
self, or Cousin Richard, and are not able to pay your passage, I will 
pay it, rather you or he should not come over. 

Your loving and affectionate Uncle, 

Henry Baily. 

Before Henry died, he conveyed to his son Edward — who 
was born May 14, 1690, and died June 11, 1766, one of the 
original founders of the first church — his home farm that he 
purchased of Mr. Robinson. This was in the "Twelve Divi- 
sions ; " it was bounded on the north by the Ponkapoag Res- 
ervation line : east and southeast, by Beaver Brook. A portion 
of the same farm is now owned by Frank M. Bird on Bolivar 


Street. The present stone house, built by Wales Withington, 
succeeds one torn down in 1833, which was the successor of 
the original house, burned in 1756. 

The English Richard, referred to in the foregoing letter, 
came from the old home in Hampshire in 17 16; he was the 
son of Edward and Mary, and was born about 1693. He 
married for his first wife Esther, daughter of James and 
Abigail (Newton) Puffer. He resided at Packeen, nearly 
opposite Pecunit Street. He was absent in the service in 
1746. In 1758 he represented the town in the General 
Court. The gravestones of himself and first wife are still 
standing forty feet apart in the old cemetery, and bear the 
following inscriptions : — 

"In memory of Mr Richard Baily who died Nov 22* 1777 in the 
84 year of his age." 

" In memory of Mrs Esther y' wife of Mr Richard Baily who died 
Oct' y= s"' 1745, in y° 46"' year of her age." 

John Davenport appears as a lessee on the Indian land, 
May 30, 1705, in connection with Peter Lyon. There is no 
evidence that he ever resided on his land. He was a Milton 
man, and lived in the old house in the rear of the mansion of 
Isaac Davenport, which was occupied by Samuel, father of 
Nance, until his death, Dec. 6, 1793. John died there in 1725. 
His son John was born in 1695, ^'^^ purchased his estate from 
Jonathan Puffer in 17 17. The house, situated down the lane 
running easterly on Cherry Hill, has ever since been owned 
and occupied by the Davenport family. Tradition asserts 
that the Indians greatly helped in the building of this house. 
It probably was erected about 1711, for that year Jonathan 
Puffer was " allowed liberty to get one load of clapboards 
and two loads of cedar bolts from the common swamps." 

Gilbert Endicott, says Savage, was born in Dorchester in 
1658. This is disputed by later antiquaries. He appears to 
have been in some military service for the colony of Massa- 
chusetts, July 24, 1676. His name afterward appears in 1677, 
when he received a grant of land in Maine upon condition 
that he should build a house within one year, and should not 


desert the place unless he leaves an occupant upon it. Again 
he is seen in 1681 at Kennebunk. In 1682 he is the owner 
of a mill at Cape Porpus. His name is found in Dorchester 
in 1690, and at Reading in 1696, where his son James was 
born. He undoubtedly came from Maine to avoid the 
trouble from the Indians ; and he was a resident and had built 
a house in Canton in 1700. His lease is dated Feb. 27, 
1704-5. He received one hundred acres of land, for which 
he agreed to pay yearly the value, of ;^4 in pepper-corn ; and 
the lease was to run for two .hundred years. He was also 
possessed of land in Sharon, which was bounded easterly by 
Massapoag Brook, and westerly by the road leading to Bil- 
lings' tavern. He seems to have obtained by mistake a plat 
of thirty-five acres, which the Indians had granted to Rev. 
Mr. Morse in 1710; and his son erected a house upon the 
land. It is probable that he retained the land, and that 
another piece was granted to Morse in 1726. 

Gilbert Endicott left two sons, John and James. vHis widow 
Hannah was married to John Minot, Nov. 14, 17 17. He was 
the first person buried in the Canton Cemetery, and his grave- 
stone is the most ancient in town. It bears this inscription : 

Here Lyes The 

Body of 


Aged 58 Years 

Died Octob' }-"= 

i8th 1 716. 

Abraham How was probably the son of Abraham How, of 
Dorchester. I have no reason to believe that he remained in 
Canton any length of time, although he was here in 1706. 
His lease was dated Dec. 3, 1703. 

Benjamin Esty was probably the son of Joseph and Jane 
Esty, of Dorchester. He received his lease on March 23, 
1704, for two hundred years, in connection with Moses Gill, 
who was his uncle. He was in Sharon in 1727, and probably 
died in 1750. He had a brother Joseph who obtained land 


belonging to the Indians, which he sold to his son Joseph, 
Jr., in 1712. 

John Jordan appears to have remained on the land he had 
leased March 14, 1704. In 1716 he occupied a house on the 
York road, and was then designated as " the old man." In 
his will he ordered forty shillings to buy a vessel for " y° 
Lords table " for the use of the church ; and a flagon was in 
due time presented. He died March 9, 1728. The extent of 
the land covered by his lease was five hundred acres, and it 
was to run two hundred years. 

Thomas Kelton died before the i8th of August, 1706. 

Elias Monk is first seen in Dorchester in 1690. That year 
a company of soldiers was raised to embark in the expedition 
to Canada, and in a list of those under Captain Withington 
appears Elias Moonke. He married for his first wife Hope ; 
and on the town records of Dorchester appear the births of 
his children, — George, Christopher, Freelove, Abigail, and 
Elizabeth. Between the years 1696 and 171 1 he must have 
had also a son Elias ; and his daughter Mary, who married 
Deacon Jo.seph Mason, of Watertown, must have been born in 
1691. Elias was one of the supervisors of highways in 1703. 
How early he came to this town we cannot say ; but " Monk's 
Meadow " is mentioned before 1 700. In 1 704 he was resid- 
ing in Canton, for Edward Pitcher says that " he saw Charles 
Redman and Elias Monk bring two loads of hay from Beaver 
Meadow, in Pecunit, about the time that Joseph Tucker lost 
his hay; that it was carried into Redman's yard and there 
unloaded." His lease is dated March 14, 1704-5. His land 
consisted of two hundred acres, for which he was to pay £6 
a year for two hundred and nineteen years. He married for 
his second wife Abigail, widow of James Puffer. In 1726 he 
conveyed twenty acres of land to Elias, Jr., his son, which 
was sold by the latter to Samuel Spare in 1739. He also con- 
veyed to Shubael Wentworth, who was here in 17 19, twenty 
acres of land on Green Lodge Street. In 1727 Elias and his 
sons, EHas and George, were assessed. He sold one hundred 
and twenty acres of his property to Joseph Billings in 1729, 
and removed to Ponkapoag Village. He died May 29, 1743. 


Samuel Pitcher was probably the son of Nathaniel Pitcher. 
He was a lame man and kept a tavern at Milton in 1712. He 
obtained his dismissal from Milton Church, with which he had 
been connected, and applied for admission to the church at 
Stoughton, 1 71 7. " Our aged brother, Samuel Pitcher, was 
looked upon as one of the foundation of the church, but was 
not able to be present at the ordination." Before action 
could be taken upon admitting him as a member of Mr. 
Morse's church, he died, Nov. 23, 1717. 

Capt. Robert Spurr was a Dorchester man. In 1726 he 
was appointed by that town with others " to take care of the 
land which, in common with other lands, was granted in y 
year 1637 to y° Town of Dorchester, and in y" year 1720 
confirmed by y= General Court." During the trial of Rev. 
Joseph Morse in 1723 he appears to have been residing at 
Dorchester. He was not here in 1706, when he' received his 
lease, and we have no evidence that he ever lived in Can- 
ton. He was a distinguished man in Dorchester, — the pro- 
prietor of a tavern on Spurr's, since known as Codman's, 
Hill, where he died in 1739. His son Thomas came to 

Joseph Tucker, the son of Joseph Tucker, one of the garri- 
son at the fort in Ponkapoag in 1675, was born at Milton, 
Jan. II, 1679. In 1703 he purchased land in the "Twelve 
Divisions," in what is now South Canton on Washington 
Street He took from the Indians, on the northerly side, a 
lease of the land on the east side of Washington Street, 
extending from the Massapoag House to beyond the resi- 
dence of Charles Endicott. He ran the old saw-mill, culti- 
vated his farm, and kept an inn. As early as 1711 he 
was appointed surveyor of highways. With his first wife, 
Judith Clapp, to whom he was married May 27, 1701, he 
joined Mr. Morse's church, June 29, 1717. For his second 
wife he married, Nov. 3, 1730, Mary Jordan, who died 
Dec. 14, 1738, aged sixty-three. He was a prominent man 
in the affairs of church and town, holding at one time the 
office of deacon, and was the first town clerk of ancient 


Deacon Tucker, like the rest of mankind, had his troubles. 
In 1742 the gossips declared that he had been " overcome 
and disguised with drink," and that this had happened in a 
very public manner, and that his associate and companion at 
the time was no less a person than Parson Dunbar. Of 
course, in those days such matters could only be settled by 
the church; and on the lOth of September Deacon Tucker 
made- a speech to the church-members in which he strongly 
denied the charge. He attributed his behavior, which he 
owned was like that of a drunken man, to an injury he re- 
ceived by the stumbling of his horse ; but after the witnesses 
had given their testimony, he confessed that the last time he 
went to Boston he took many " drams," besides some "mixed 
drinks," and he might have taken more than he was aware of. 
The church continued him in communion, but deprived him 
of the ofifice of deacon. 

Sept. 20, 1742, he married for his third wife Susanna, 
daughter of Robert and Rebecca (Crehore) Pelton, who sur- 
vived him, and married for her second husband Richard 
Stickney, who died May 24, 1769. 

This woman was a connecting link between the first settlers 
and the present century. In 1801 the Widow Stickney stated 
that she was ninety-five years of age. She was then living in 
a poor and leaky house on a site between the present Crane 
schoolhouse and the Vulcan engine-house. She only re- 
ceived annually ten bushels of corn and one ton of English 
hay, and had a right to get firewood out of her wood-lot, and 
apples out of her orchard for family use, the whole of which 
would not equal fifty dollars a year. She had maintained 
an excellent character for many years. Jonathan Leonard 
thought it was a disgrace to any civilized society that one so 
aged and helpless should be suffering from cold and hunger, 
and did all in his power to alleviate her sufferings. She died 
March 11, 1803, in the ninety-seventh year of her age, just 
one hundred and twenty-seven years after her first husband 
was born. 

Deacon Tucker passed from earth in due time. The fol- 
lowing inscription on his gravestone in the old cemetery 


Styles him " Deacon," but Mr. Dunbar's records read, " once 
a deacon of this church." 

Here lie the remains of 


Who died September, y' 25 th 1745, 

in y° 66th year of his age. 

John Wentworth, one of the first settlers of the town, ap- 
pears to have been appointed constable in 17 14, and died 
about 17 16. His house was situated on Burr Lane. He 
was the ancestor of a numerous posterity, many of whom 
remain in town. He left York, in Maine, on account of dif- 
ficulty with the Indians, sometime between 1690 and 1700. 

It is a touching incident in our local history that the emi- 
grants, driven from the place of their first settlement in the 
Province of Maine, should have named the new place of their 
residence " York," and that this name should have been ap- 
plied to a part of our town from that time to the present. 

Moses Gill received his lease from the Indians, March 23, 
1705. His wife was an Esty, sister to Benjamin and Joseph. 
He in all probability died before 17 16, as that year his farm 
was divided between his sons, Moses and Benjamin, — the lat- 
ter taking all east of a certain line running parallel to Pleasant 
Street, and the former all west of the same line, with a right 
of way out. His dwelling-house was standing in 1716. 

Benjamin Esty appears to have been a brother of Joseph. 
They were both signers of the original covenant at the for- 
mation of the church. He appears to have had some rela- 
tions with Moses Gill, since the lease of two hundred acres 
was received by Moses Gill, Benjamin and John Esty. Of 
the latter I know nothing. Benjamin's first wife, Elizabeth, 
died July 18, 1713- He married Mary Holland, Dec. 13, 
1 7 16. He died March 18, 1752, aged eighty-two. He re- 
moved to Sharon before 1727. 

The following names of some of the early settlers in Can- 
ton appear in a list entitled, " Residents of Dorchester who 
had reached the age of twenty-one years, up to 1700: " Henry 


Bailey, Henry Crane, Ebenezer Clapp, John Davenport, Gil- 
bert Endicott, Abraham How, Timothy Jones, Peter Lyon, 
Nathaniel Lyon, Ebenezer Mosely, Robert Pelton, Joshua 
Pomeroy, Robert Redman, William Royall, Isaac Royall, 
John Tolman, Edward Wiatt. 

The ease with which the early settlers had acquired a foot- 
hold on the Indian land was the cause of ill-feeling among 
outsiders. In 171 2, six years after the first settlers had seen, 
to their dismay, the sheriff ride among them with his sum- 
monses to court, it was said to be notoriously apparent that 
several persons and families of her Majesty's English subjects 
had entered upon and possessed themselves of "the land 
called Puncapaug," which for many years had been appro- 
priated as an Indian village, and reserved by law for that 
purpose ; and that " these persons are building fences and 
improving the land." We are not aware that any action was 
taken to- restore the Indians to their just rights ; but " the 
Honorable, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to 
the Indians in New England and parts adjacent in America," 
intimated that if the matter were taken in hand and pushed, 
they would bear a portion of the expense. The town of 
Dorchester became alarmed, and appointed Robert Spurr, 
Thomas Tileston, and Samuel Paul, in 1719, to see that the 
articles with the Indians were kept, and in no way en- 
croached upon. 

In 1723 the matter became so weighty that the council 
desired a committee to examine and report upon it. In 
June Samuel Sewall made a report, and the council ap- 
pointed a committee to repair to Ponkapoag and inquire 
into the nature and condition of the lands which the Indi- 
ans had leased to the English. They were also instructed 
to make a report on the quantity and quality of the lands 
possessed by each person, and under what regulations and 
conditions it would be proper to confirm the leases, regard 
being had to the Indians' original right, and the improve- 
ments made l)y the English settlers. This committee went 
to Ponkapoag, and on Dec. 27, 1723, made the following 
report to the council : — 


" I . That the tract of Land at Puncapaug Called by the name of 
the Indian Land, Altho said to be Six thousand Acres, Amounts to no 
more than five Thousand five hundred Acres, there being an Ancient 
Grant of five hundred Acres to one Fenno, which must be Subducted 
out of it. 

" 2. There may be About fifteen hundred Acres of Unimproved 
rough land Which is Unoccupied by the English & not Leased by 
the Indians. 

" 3. The other four thousand Acres, more or less, is What is or has 
been Leased by the Indians to the English & now under their Improve- 
ments. A schedule of the names of the Tenants, of the quantity of their 
Lands, the purchase money they gave for it, together with the Annual 
Rent or quit Rent, is hereunto Annexed. Upon the Whole, that which 
the Committee have agreed on as proper in their opinion to represent 
& report to this Honb'le Court is as follows : i. That the said leases 
be all of them made or Reduced to Ninety Nine Years from this time, 
& for that Term of Years be confirmed to the Tenants by this Court. 
2. That the Quit Rent or Annuity, to be paid by the English to the In- 
dians for their Lands, be one penny Per Acre per Annum, & this to be 
collected by & paid Unto Some proper Person or persons. Who shall 
be Appointed by the Court as Trustees for the Indians, — The money 
from Time to Time to be carefully applied for the use of the Indians. 

" 4. The English Tenants, their Heirs or Assigns, at the Expiration 
of the said Term of Ninety Nine Years, to be allowed the Renewing 
their Respective Leases for Ninety Nine Years Longer, upon the pay- 
ment of three pence per Acre as a fine for the Use of the Indians, Un- 
less they should turn their Leases into Freeholds by taking Absolute 
Deeds of the Indians, Which they Shall be Allowed to do at any Time 
or Times hereafter upon paying to the Trustee or Trustees to the In- 
dians Twenty Years Rent of such Land as they Hold & Enjoy by 
Vertue of Such Leases, which Twenty Years Purchase Money shall also 
be Let out for the Annual Profits & Advantage of the Indians by their 

" 5. That the Indians be confirmed in their Privilege of fishing, fowl- 
ing, and Hunting, So they Do no Damage to the English, & also of Such 
Apple Trees or Orcharding (particularly Some Orcharding Claimed 
by Charles Redman in his Lease) as they have Expressly Saved or 
excepted In their Leases. 

"The Committee have also Anexed a memorial in Behalf of the 
English Tenants Which they have Received Since their being at 



"Question, — Whether the meadows, Orchards, & Old Fields & 
Clear Lands Hired of the Indians Should not pay a Greater Quit Rent 
than one penny per Acre. 

" In Council Read & Ordered, that the first, second, & fourth Article 
of this Report be Accepted, And that Nath'l Hubbard & John Quincy, 
Esqrs., be Trustees for the Indians of Puucapaug : Sent Down for 

In 173s the following names appear in addition to those 
previously mentioned as having given bonds for the land they 
occupied, for the benefit of the Indians, — Philip Goodwin, 
Benjamin Jordan, John Kenney, Preserved Lyon, Benjamin 
Smith, John Smith, William Spear, Samuel Savels, Captain 
Talbot, George Wadsworth. A few years later appear John 
Atherton, Nathaniel Stearns, Thomas Shepard, Ezekiel Fisher, 
and Paul Wentworth. 





TN 1724 two petitions were presented to the General Court, — 
-^ one signed by Joseph Tucker, Timothy Jones, and Joseph 
Morse, and one by WilHam Sherman, John Wentworth, Wil- 
liam Wheeler, Samuel Hartwell, and Silas Crane in behalf of 
the English, that they may have liberty to purchase the 
lands on which they now dwell, with the tenements thereon, 
on reasonable terms. Another petition from the Indians, 
signed by Amos and Thomas Ahauton, Squamaug, and 
George Hunter was received. They desired that their neigh- 
bors, who had in many instances been kind to them, might 
have liberty to purchase the land. 

The General Court looked into the matter; they appointed 
a committee, who went to Ponkapoag, sent for the English 
and Indian proprietors, examined the leases, made out a 
schedule of the names of the English purchasers, the 
quantity of land purchased by them, and the consideration 
offered. They found the Indians had been thoroughly 
cheated by their white brothers. The Indians had granted 
but 4,397 acres, and should have had remaining for their own 
use, 1,102; and yet there were but 855. This puzzled the 
committee, for they knew that the original grant was for 
6,000, after deducting for the ponds, which were estimated at 
200, and the Fenno farm, which should have been only 500 
acres, as laid out by Surveyor Fisher. They found upon 
investigation, however, that by a late survey which the colony 
had ordered, the Fenno farm had swollen to 660 acres, and 
that the south line of the Ponkapoag Plantation had become 
crooked, whereas by Mr. Fisher's survey it was a straight 
line, and were it rectified, would restore about fifty acres to 


the Indians. This, with the fact of Mr. Justice Danforth's 
having purchased forty or fifty acres by the allowance of the 
General Court for the accommodation of certain mills, would 
account for additional shrinkage of the Indian land. 

The court finally granted the request of the petitioners ; and 
they were allowed to buy out the reversion of such lands as 
they had upon lease, or turn their estates into fee simple ; and 
a joint committee of Council and House was ordered to ap- 
prove deeds of confirmation from the Indians to the English. 

Shortly afterward, several of the inhabitants of Ponkapoag 
or Dorchester Village presented a petition to the General 
Court, wherein they asserted that Amos Ahauton and other 
native or Indian proprietors had a good right to about 1,500 
acres of land at Ponkapoag, which they had never yet leased. 
About 500 acres of this land was represented as being wild 
and uncultivated, and of no use; and the remaining 1,000 
acres were represented as being amply sufficient for the needs 
of the Indians, — in fact, more than they could ever improve, 
as they were decreasing in number and increasing in laziness. 
The petitioners further averred that if the money obtained 
from the sale of this land were put at interest, the income 
could be far more advantageously used for their benefit than 
the holding of this unproductive real estate; and that the 
opening up of this land would very much enhance the value 
of property in the precinct, and be of great public advantage. 

The General Court granted the prayer of the petitioners ; 
and Dec. 10, 1725, it was ordered in council that a com- 
mittee, consisting of Nathaniel Byfield, Paul Dudley, Jona- 
than Remington, John Quincy, and Ebenezer Stone, — the 
same as were appointed upon the petition the year pre- 
vious, — be appointed for managing the Indian affairs at 
" Puncapaug," and be directed especially to see justice done 
to the Indians. 

The greater part of the land was accordingly sold, and 
;^55o was placed at interest for the benefit of the Indians. 
In 1747 the fund amounted to £6:^6 15 J. 6d. The money 
was placed in the hands of John Quincy as trustee. He ap- 
pears to have so well managed the Indians' affairs that they 


desired he might be placed as guardian over them, as will 
appear by the following petition, dated April 13, 1726: 

To the Honorable William Dummer, Esq., Lieut- Gov' r. 

The humble petition of your Honorable Humble petitioners, the 
native Indian proprietors of Punkapaugue plantation, in the town of 
Stoughton, Humbly sheweth : That whereas some of our English 
neighbours are too ready to incroach upon our timber and our wood, 
cutting it down to make coals, and Damnifying us greatly thereby, 
whereof we are necesitated to pray for the imposition and assistance 
of some English person, impowered by this great General Court to 
take the care of us, that we may have justice done us, and that we 
may be not wronged, we humbly pray that Maj John Quincy, Esq 
may be fully impowered and authorized by this Great & General 
Court to look after us in all Respects, whereby we may be under a 
better regulation than we have been of as to our wood, timber, 
orchards, meadows, and upland that we have still in our hands, — & 
that we may issue and settle any small differences between any of our 
English neighbors, — all of which we leave with your honors wise 
consideration & humbly pray as in duty bound. 

Amos Ahatton. 

Hezekiah Squamaug. 

Thomas Ahauton. 

George Hunter. 

Sewon George. 

Colonel John Quincy, for whom the town of Quincy was 
named, was accordingly appointed the following year, and 
held the position until 1747, the distance to his wards then 
being too great for one of his age and infirmities. 

I now propose to give an account of those persons who 
received their deeds from the Indians about the year 1725, 
and the situation of their farms. 

(i) Thomas Spurr, Jr., described as one of the English 
tenants, was probably grandson of Robert, one of the origi- 
nal lessees. He settled in this town as early as 1 717. He 
died Oct. 8, 1767. The land conveyed to him consisted of 
42 1 acres, and extended from the present Canton Cemetery 
to Ridge Hill, thence in a westerly course back of the Bemis 
farm, and then turning in a northwesterly direction, and 


running on Ponkapoag Brook, touched the northern boun- 
dary of the Ponkapoag Plantation ; and running a few rods 
on that line, it turned at the northwesterly corner of the line, 
and ran southwest on the westerly line of the plantation nearly 
to the residence of the late Commodore Downes ; thence 
south, passing southwest of Pecunit meadow to a point near 
the Gridley monument. The house was situated in what is 
now an open field, a few rods northwest of the house lately 
owned by Alfred Lewis. The cellar is still to be seen. 
Thomas, Jr., married, and left sons Thomas, Robert, Michael, 
Elijah, and a daughter Sarah, who married Ralph Shepard. 

(2) The deed of Elias Monk from the Indians is not on 
record. It conveyed substantially the same land which he 
conveyed to Joseph Billings in 1726, — 120 acres. 

(3) Shubael Wentworth received a deed of nine and 
three quarters acres and six rods. He is described as 'a 
farmer and blacksmith. 

His house was situated a few rods down Green Lodge 
Street, at Ponkapoag, on the northerly side of the road. The 
cellar-hole is still to be seen. The land is now a part of the 
Bowles estate. 

He is supposed to have received the name of Shubael from 
the Rev. Shubael Dummer, who was killed in 1692 at York, 
and who was his father's pastor. He married (i) Damaris 
Hawes, who died Dec. 8, 1739; (2) Sept. 10, 1741, Hannah, 
daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Andrews. He was a 
prominent man in church matters, was at one time parish 
clerk, and was constable in 1735. He died March 24, 1759, 
seventy years old. 

The Rev. Peter Thacher, of Milton, under date of May 24, 
1727, writes as follows: — 

" I was at a fast at Stoughton, and preached in the afternoon, being 
desired. I baptised two children ; one was Mr. Shubal Wintworth's, 
y" smith; his name was James; the other was William, son to 
Joseph Smith." 

(4) Samuel Andrews was the son of Samuel and Eliza- 
beth Andrews ; he received ninety-seven acres of land on what 


is now Cherry Hill in Ponkapoag. It was bounded on the 
north by the Ponkapoag line, and on the south by the 
Redman farm. His father, Samuel Andrews, was a tenant 
of the Indians upon it. He had been a resident of Milton 
in 1709; but in 171 1 he had erected a house at Ponkapoag, 
where he entertained travellers, although he is styled a 
housewright by occupation. He was one of the original 
founders of Morse's church, and had at one time behaved in 
" an obstreperous and disorderly manner at a church meet- 
ing ; " but the church, upon his expressing sorrow, forgave 
him, and, says the pastor, " Through the Lords great good- 
ness the matter was accomodated with a reconciliation." He 
was the first moderator of the precinct ineeting held in 17 16. 
He died before 1725. 

His son Samuel married Mehitable Trot, March 16, 1727, 
and died June 2, 1740. In 1735 he conveyed the farm to 
James Andrews, who had married Abigail Crane, April 13, 
1732. In 1741 he erected a new house on the premises, and 
in 1763 conveyed the property to James Hawkes Lewis. He 
died June 19, 1777, at Packeen. 

(5) The deed to Robert Redman describes the same land 
leased to his father, with the exception that the Andrews 
farm is omitted, and five acres near the pond reserved for 
the use of the Indians. The privileges of their old orchards 
are especially reserved to them. The farm was said to con- 
tain one hundred and twenty-two acres, and was bounded on 
the north by the Andrews farm, on the east by Ponkapoag 
Pond, on the south by the brook of the same name, and on 
the west by the road. 

(6) Joseph Topliff received one hundred and eight acres, 
situated on both sides of the Turnpike, south of the Redman 
farm, and bounded southeast by the Fenno land. At one 
time he owned one quarter of the saw-mill on Ponkapoag 
Brook. He was the son of Samuel and Patience Topliff, and 
was born April 24, 1687. He was town treasurer in 1733, 
and had some difficulty in his accounts; and the result was a 
law-suit in the following year. He lies buried in the Canton 
Cemetery, with the following epitaph : — 



" Here lyes interred the body of Deacon Joseph TopUfF who de- 
parted this life, Jan. y'= 13"' 1749, in y'= 63'' year.'' 

(7) Elhanan Lyon's deed is not on record. The land 
probably came into his possession from his father, Peter 
Lyon, who was a lessee on the Iildian land. In 1725 Elhanan 
was the owner of one hundred and thirty-seven acres, extend- 
ing on both sides of Washington Street, from Sassamon 
Street to Potash meadow. It is probable that Peter himself 
resided here, for we find him .styling himself as an innholder 
at Ponkapoag in 1705 ; he was a constable for our part of the 
town in 1707. It may have been in the house that stood 
where George B. Hunt now lives, that he copied the old pre- 
cinct records and practised " setting the psalm." We can 
hardly believe that either as an innkeeper or officer he would 
have had much business where his house stood in 1698. 
Elhanan was born May 4, 1690; he lived at the southwesterly 
corner of Sassamon and Washington streets. He married, 
Feb. 19, 1712, Mary Redman. She must have died soon; for 
on Sept. 24, 1713, he was again married to Meredith Wiatt. 
He died Oct. 31, 1745. He was a bricklayer by trade, and 
frequently appears in town affairs; but he will always be 
known as " the great troubler of the church." It was his 
business to keep it in a perpetual ferment. In 1737 begins 
the long quarrel with his minister. Mr. Lyon had absented 
himself from the Lord's Supper for more than two years. 
Mr. Dunbar feels obliged formally to call the attention of 
the church to the matter, and informs them " of the disor- 
derly walk of our brother." A few years later Mr. Lyon 
circulates scandalous reports concerning his pastor, both as 
to his morals and doctrines, and appears before a meeting of 
the church and openly charges Mr. Dunbar with preaching 
" damnable doctrine." But the church considers it an inju- 
rious and scandalous charge, and suspends Lyon from the 
communion. In 1744 Mr. Dunbar gives the following account 
of his trouble with Elhanan Lyon : — 

" Having got sufficient proof that our brother, Elhanan Lyon, 
Senior, had charged me with writing a corrupt lie in Mr. Liscomb's 


and his wife's evidence, which they gave me, I did, on October 
second, which was my birthday, — being then forty years old, — enter 
a legal process with him, and get a warrant, for the apprehending him, 
from Squire Hall of Bostbn, who did, on October fifteenth, fully hear 
the case and give judgment upon it. Mr. Lyon was found guilty, and 
fined twenty shillings, lawful money to the King, and stands recorded, 
I suppose, in the Justices Court for a liar. Mr. Lyon at first ap- 
pealed from judgment, but afterwards, upon the justice's advice and 
further thoughts, he let drop his appeal. The man was considerably 
smitten with the judgment, and his pretended friends left him. None 
stood by him to lend him any money to pay costs of court and bound 
for him, except his son Enoch. May God sanctify this affliction to 
him, and make him a more quiet and peaceable man ; and blessed be 
God who saved me out of the Lion's mouth ! May this trouble be 
sanctified to me, and may I be more quickened in my ministerial work, 
and blessed be God that in this, my trouble, 1 had such and so many 
proofs of the respect and affection and concern of so many of my 
people for me ! May they profit more than ever under my ministerial 
labors among them ! The wicked is snared in the work of his own 
hands. Haggaion; selah!" 

On Jan. I2, 1745, the church, by vote, cast out brother 
Elhanan Lyon from their communion by excommunication. 
Mr. Lyon died Oct. 31, 1746, and Mr. Dunbar thus reviewed 
him: — 

" It was but a year ago this month since I took him into the law 
for reviling and slandering me, and cast him, and for which the church, 
some time after, excommunicated him. He always justified himself; 
and although I voluntarily, and without sending for, visited him, he 
never said one word to me about the matter. He has now gone to 
his doom pronounced. While he lived, he was the great troubkr of 
this church, but he will trouble us no more. Prov. xi. 10. I think 
he dies as little lamented as any one in the place would have done." 

(8) Deacon Benjamin Blackman was the son of John, of 
Dorchester, the original immigrant to New England. He 
was born in 1665, and came here early, signing the original 
church covenant in 1717. His farm consisted, in 1725, of one 
hundred and eighty-two acres, and he subsequently added to 
it by purchase. The land was situated on both sides of 


Washington Street, and ran from Potash meadow nearly to 
Ridge Hill. His house was standing in 1725, and still re- 
mains, known as the Eagle Inn. He was one of the ori- 
ginal purchasers of the Proprietors' Lot, and lies within that 
sacred enclosure ; his wife Jemima (Breck), sleeps beside him. 
He died June 12, 1749, in the eighty-fourth year of his age; 
his wife died Aug. 5, 1742, in the seventy-first year of her 

In recording his death, Rev. Mr. Dunbar calls him " good 
old Deacon Blackman." 

(9) Robert Pelton received seventy-three acres on both 
sides of the present Washington Street and including Ridge 
Hill. His house was situated on the northerly side of the 
road, between the Blackman blacksmith's shop and the house 
of the late Miss Clarissa Cobb. It was some distance from 
the street ; but the remains of the cellar are still to be seen, 
and trees are yet standing which mark the site of the ancient 
orchard. He appears to have owned at one time sixty acres 
on the southeast of his home lot, and also to have purchased 
twenty-four acres of Deacon Benjamin Blackman. He is 
styled a brickmaker ; and as he was the owner of half an acre 
of clay ground bordering on Pecunit meadow, he had a good 
opportunity to follow his vocation. He also owned land in 
the " Twelve Divisions." Pelton appears to have been a very 
profane man. In 1737 the church accused him of profane 
cursing and swearing; and the evidence having been read, 
Brother Pelton at first very strenuously denied the charge, 
but at length acknowledged that " having been provoked and 
put into a passion by some evil-minded persons, he had so 
far given way to corrupt nature as to utter and express some 
profane, wicked words, unbecoming a Christian and his pro- 
fession," and declared that he would do no more. The 
church did not think this confession quite met the charge ; 
namely, openly profane cursing and swearing ; and Pelton was 
accordingly suspended from the communion for refusing to 
give glory to God by making full confession of swearing 
openly. He therefore was warned to appear on next Lord's 
Day at public worship, in order that the pastor might address 


a proper admonition to him ; but this admonition he seemed 
not to desire. Mr. Dunbar says that " he showed a very 
undue spirit, and in a sarcastical way thanked the church for 
purging the church." On the next Sunday Mr. Dunbar 
publicly admonished and suspended him. Five years after, 
he probably had been able to break himself of his evil habit, 
for he was then considered qualified to act as tithing-man. 
Robert Pelton married Rebecca Crehore, of Milton, Sept. 2, 
1697, ^^'^ settled in this town as early as 17 13. He was 
buried Sept. 4, 1745. 

(10) Edward Wentworth, a brother to Shubael, Charles, 
and John, had fifty-one and three quarters acres on the south- 
east side of the present Washington Street, between Ridge 
Hill and Meeting-house Hill. Edward was born in 1695 ; he 
married, Oct. 17, 171 7, Kezia, daughter of Deacon Benjamin 
and Jemima Blackman. She died Oct. 10, 1745, aged fifty- 
two years. He then married Sarah Winslow. He was an 
innholder from 1742 to 1747, a warden of the English Church 
in 1764, and died Feb. 12, 1767. His house stood on the 
spot now known as the Jabez Cobb place. 

(11) Charles Wentworth received two hundred and eigh- 
teen acres, described as bounded northeast by the land of 
Benjamin Blackman, west by that of Edward Wentworth and 
Samuel Dwelley, northwest by Robert Pelton's land, south 
by Edward Wiatt's, and southeast by a certain brook; this 
land is west of the Turnpike, and is bounded on the south 
by Pequit Brook. Charles Wentworth was a prominent man 
in the town; sometimes moderator; selectman in 1730-32, 
^734~37> 1739> i74i-43> 1746. He was also famous in militia 
afi"airs, was commissioned captain in 1746, and owned slaves. 
He married Bethia Fenno, Dec. 15, 1713. She died April 29, 
1780, aged eighty-nine, and he died July 10 in the same year, 
aged ninety-four. His homestead was on the Turnpike, on 
the present estate of Volney Kinsley. 

(12) William Billings, commonly known as Ensign Wil- 
liam, afterward lieutenant, was the son of Roger and Sarah 
(Paine) Billings. He was born at Milton, July 27, 1686. He 
married Ruth Crehore, June 17, 1719. His farm within the 


plantation line consisted of twenty-two acres. It was bounded 
northeasterly by the Ponkapoag Plantation line and on the 
south by the farm of William Wheeler. His house stood on 
an ancient road, on the brow of a hill. William Billings had 
a daughter Ruth, who lies buried in the cemetery in a very 
ancient tomb with a brick base. On the top rests a slab of 
slate, which records her name and the names of her parents, 
and says she " died August nineteenth, 1736, in the sixteenth 
year of her age." This was the first tomb erected in the 
old churchyard, and the builder was obliged to receive per- 
mission of the inhabitants in town meeting to erect it. Fifty 
years ago it was protected by a railing, and within the mem- 
ory of the writer the bricks that supported the slab were 
standing. It is now a sad ruin. The storms of winter have 
almost erased the inscription,' and the frosts have destroyed 
the mortar between the bricks ; and in a short time, unless 
repaired, every vestige of it will have disappeared. Tradition 
asserts that Ruth, who was a beautiful girl, went to a ball 
with thin-soled shoes, through which indiscretion she took a 
violent cold which resulted in her death. 

On the 17th of December, 1769, the builder of this tomb 
died. I learn from an ancient diary that in due time " old 
Lieutenant Billings was laid in his tomb." 

(13) John Danforth, a non-resident, the son of the Rev. 
John Danforth, of Dorchester, received, March 22, 1725, a 
deed from the Indians of one hundred and fifty acres of land. 
It was situated on the easterly side of the present Dedham 
road, opposite the Wheeler farm. It is commonly known as 
the Wetherbee pasture. The original purchaser died in 1728. 
When Rev. Samuel Dunbar purchased it in 1761, it is de- 
scribed as being bounded north by Pecunit Brook, northeast 
by Pacquimit meadow, east and southeast by land of John 
Wentworth, west by land of William Billings in part, and 
partly by a way leading to Billings' house, northwest by the 
Indian or Dorchester line, and west by land of William 
Wheeler. From the old parson it passed into the possession 
of Squire Dunbar. A cellar-hole on which a house was stand- 
ing in 1725 was visited by the Canton Historical Society in 


1876. From the elevated portions of this land a magnificent 
view of the Blue Hill range and Pecunit valley is obtained. 

(14) William Wheeler, one of the English tenants, received 
an Indian deed of land estimated at one hundred and one 
acres more or less. This land was situated on the west side 
of the Dedham road, and is that which his son William, Jr., 
gave to the First Congregational Church. It is described in 
the original deed as bounded on the north by William Bil- 
lings' land, east by John Danforth's, on the southeast by the 
land of John Withington, on the south by that of Daniel 
Stone and John Vose, and on the west by the Dorchester 
line. Mr. Wheeler also owned a meadow which now belongs 
to the First Parish. It consists of three acres, and lies east 
of the Danforth land and north of the meeting-house. It is 
famous as having once belonged to Capt. John Nelson, who 
figured prominently in the arrest of Governor Andros. 

William Wheeler was born in 1693. He was one of the 
original founders of the church in 1717. His first wife was 
Abigail. He married, May 21, 1729, Sarah, daughter of 
Samuel and Phoebe Stearns. The site of his house can still 
be seen between the Dedham road and the half-mile trotting- 
track; the house was removed to Canton Corner and now 
forms part of the Abel Everett house. 

He died July 16, 1773, in the eightieth year of his age, and 
was buried in the Canton Cemetery. 

(15) Rev. Joseph Morse, the first minister of this town, re- 
ceived from the Indians three parcels of land in 1725. His 
homestead stood where the Catholic Cemetery now is. It 
was bounded northwest by the country road, westerly by 
land of John Wentworth, south by Pequit Brook, and east by 
the land of David Stone ; and it contained one hundred and 
thirty-four acres. On the opposite side of the road he 
owned also ten or twelve acres, which is now embraced in the 
Canton Cemetery. He received fifty acres on the westerly 
side of the country road, bounded north by Capt. John 
Vose's land, east by a way called Taunton Old Way, and 
easterly and southerly by Pequit Brook. This land began 
where now stands the house of Asa Shepard, and ran on the 


westerly side of the present Washington Street to where the 
road bends in Endicott's woods. Some of this land is still 
owned by the descendants of the first minister. 

(i6) David Stone received eighty-six acres east of Rev. 
Mr. Morse. It is now commonly called the Tilden farm, at 
the present time owned by Edwin Wentworth. It is situated 
on the easterly shore of Reservoir Pond, and a road from 
Randolph Street leads directly to it. 

David Stone is supposed to have been a great-grandson of 
Gregory. He was baptized at Watertown in 1687. He prob- 
ably came here with his wife Sarah as early as 1712. He was 
one of the founders of the church. He died May 26, 1733 ; 
his wife died Jan. 27, 1739. 

(17) Samuel Dwelley appears as owning a piece of land 
southwest of Charles Wentworth in 1725. He married, June 
24, 1725, Charity, daughter of Philip and Charity (Jordan) 
Liscom. She joined the church in 1730, and died Aug. 20, 

(18) Edward Pitcher testifies to certain transactions at 
Ponkapoag Village in 1704, when he was eighteen years of 
age. In 1745 he interfered with the monotony of the daily 
life of the town by expressing his opinion of the members of 
the church in language more forcible than polite. He called 
them " a parcel of devils," and added that he " would not sit 
down with such a parcel of devils." He died at the house of 
Thomas Spurr, March 9, 1773. His wife died Oct 12, 1769, 
at the house of John Spare. George Blackman made her 
coffin, and Isaiah Bussey tolled the bell. 

(19) Edward Wiatt received ninety-seven acres, bounded 
on the north by the land of Charles Wentworth and Samuel 
Dwelley, west by the land of Edward Pitcher, south by the 
Indian land, and east by Pequit Brook, for which he paid 
£20. He married, April 15, 1718, Abigail, daughter of 
James and Abigail (Newton) Puffer. She was born Nov. 20, 
1696. A man bearing this name was in 1690 a soldier in 
Capt. John Withington's company. Wiatt died before 1728. 

(20) John Wentworth received two parcels of land by deed 
in his own name. They lay on both sides of the present 


Washington Street at Canton Corner. The first was on the 
southeasterly side and consisted of sixty-five and one half 
acres, and was described as being bounded on the north by 
the road, on the east by the land of Joseph Morse, on the 
south by Pequit Brook, running to the lower south side of the 
dam until it came to the country road ; it might be described 
as running from the fifteenth mile-stone to Pleasant Street, 
back to Reservoir Pond. It is substantially the land now 
occupied by George Munroe Endicott. 

The second tract was on the opposite side of the street. It 
consisted of eighty-one and one half acres, which was de- 
scribed as being bounded southeast by the country road, 
southwest by the way leading to William Billings' land, north- 
west by land of John Danforth, and east by Pecunit meadow 
in part and the meeting-house land. This farm would now be 
included in a line from the Canton Cemetery to the Dedham 
road, thence to the Wetherbee pasture and so to Pecunit 

John Wentworth himself never lived on this land. The 
part on the southeasterly side was shortly in the possession 
of John Withington, Jr., who married John Wentworth's 
daughter Martha. 

John Wentworth, the son of the first settler, in October, 
1729, brought the machinery of the church into operation to 
settle a secular dispute with another church-member, David 
Tilden. It was a controversy in regard to the boundary lines 
of their estates. The pastor decided against Mr. Wentworth. 
" I then," says he, " first awfully and solemnly admonished 
him, and then suspended him. I was wonderfully assisted 
from God." We do not know how Mr. Wentworth bore his 
humiliation, but the joy of the victorious party was uncon- 
trollable, and he evinced it by partaking freely of the cup 
that not only cheers but inebriates, for which indiscretion 
he in due time came under the censure of the church. Mr. 
Wentworth, not satisfied with the opinion of the church, car- 
ried the matter before a jury, who decided that Mr. Tilden 
had not removed Mr. Wentworth's landmark. 

Possibly the church was propitiated when in 1765 "our 


aged brother, John Wentworth, gave it £$0." Mr. Went- 
worth died Jan. 6, 1772. 

About 1 741 John Wentworth, Jr., grandson of the first 
John, erected a house on the northwest side of the present 
Washington Street, at Canton Corner. It was a two-story 
house with a lean-to roof, and was within my memory occu- 
pied by Samuel Capen, and was not pulled down until about 

This John, Jr., who was born Nov. 8, 1709, and died on 
Feb. 9, 1769, seems to have had a peculiar experience in his 
love affairs. It appears that after the death of his first wife, 
Mary, he became intimate in 1737 with Mercy Smith, and 
with the advice of the church determined to marry her; but 
for some reason best known to herself, one Jerusha Lyon 
postponed this arrangement by the following notice, which 
she served on one of the officers of the town : — 

Stoughton, March 24, 1738. 
To Afr. Benjamin Savels, C/erk of y Town of Stoughton. 

Sir, — I am informed that you have published an intention of mar- 
riage betwixt John Wentworth, Jr., and Mercy Smith of this town. 
These are therefore to certify to you that I do forbid your proceeding 
in that matter, and desire that you would take down said publishment 
and keep it down until the matter is detennined as the law provides 
in such cases. 

Jerusha Lyon. 

The notice seems to have stopped the marriage. In De- 
cember the church was called to consult concerning Miss 
Smith's behavior; and it was not until Sept. 19, 1744, that she 
finally married Mr. Wentworth. But Jerusha was finally to 
triumph. Mercy died June 22, 1765, and Jerusha reigned as 
wife and widow of John Wentworth, Jr., in the old house at 
Canton Corner until her death, April 13, 1791. 

(21) Capt. John Vose received from the Indians ninety 
acres lying on both sides of the country road. The part 
on the southerly side was bounded on the east by the Taun- 
ton Old Way, or a way leading to Joseph Morse's land, and is 
the land extending on Washington Street from the old Town 
House to the house of Mr. Asa Shepard ; beyond this, where 


Washington makes a detour to the west, began Vose's line, 
and extended in the rear of the house formerly of J. Mason 
Everett to Pequit Brook on the southeast. It is described in 
the original deed as bounded north and west by the country 
road, southwest by the land of Joseph Tucker, southeast by 
Pequit Brook. 

The homestead was on the northerly side of the present 
Washington Street, and was bounded on the north by land of 
William Wheeler, east by a way now Dedham road, leading 
to William Billings's, and westerly by the land of John With- 
ington. It extended from the corner of Dedham Street, on 
Washington Street, to Chapman Street. 

(22) John Withington, who originally belonged to Milton, 
appears in Canton as a member of the church in 1717. He 
was the son of Philip and Thankful (Pond) Withington, and 
was born Dec. 30, 1682. He sold his house and farm to 
Rev. Mr. Dunbar in 1728, and in 1733 removed to Stoughton, 
having purchased from Edward Esty the saw-mill on the site 
now occupied by French and Ward. In his later life he re- 
turned to Canton, where he lived to a good old age, with his 
son, and died Dec. 31, 1772. He was one of our earliest 
school-teachers, and his penmanship was elegant. 

(23) Daniel Stone received forty acres, bounded northeast 
by John Withington, north by the Wheeler farm, northwest 
by the Indian line, southwest by Philip Goodwin, and south 
and southeast by James Endicott. 

Daniel Stone appears early in Canton, where he married 
Thankful Withington, Jan. 11, 1712. He is called of Dor- 
chester. Other records show him here in 17 16. He lived 
on the southerly side of Chapman Street, where the old well 
still may be seen ; and the lot still is called the Stone pas- 
ture. It is asserted that he exchanged his farm with Thomas 
Shepard. He removed to Ponkapoag and occupied the 
Bemis place, and Shepard moved to his farm. Thankful, 
his wife, died Oct. 27, 1732; and he married, Nov. 23, 1758, 
the Widow Hannah Woodcock. He died May 2, 1762. aged 
eighty-four years. 

(24) James Endicott is presumed to have received his 


deed from the Indians. Ellis Ames used to assert that he had 
seen the deed with a plan annexed, but no other searcher has 
been so fortunate. At the settlement of his estate in 1769 he 
owned nearly one hundred and forty acres of land. 

Mr. Endicott's land extended from the hill near the Endi- 
cott homestead southward to the northern boundary of Dr. 
A. R. Holmes's estate on Washington Street, running west- 
ward some distance from the highway. 

It is said that James Endicott erected his house on a 
thirty-five acre lot, which the Indians had, in 1710, given to 
Rev. Joseph Morse. Some amicable arrangement was made, 
and Mr. Endicott remained in possession. This house prob- 
ably stood on the site of the present brick house on Wash- 
ington Street owned by the Endicott family; it was burned 
Oct. 29, 1806. Mr. Endicott was licensed as an innholder in 
1723 and 1725. His birth is found upon the Reading records 
in 1696. He married (i) Nov. 26, 1723, Esther Clapp; she 
died July 11, 1750, aged forty-nine years; (2) Hannah (Til- 
den), widow of Elhanan Lyon, Jan. 9, 1752 ; she died May 
22, 1778. He lies buried in the Canton Cemetery. The in- 
scription on his stone says he " died October the twenty-first, 
1768, in y° 72'' year of his age." 

(25) David Tilden received twenty acres of land, bounded 
on the east by John Wentworth, westerly by Taunton Old 
Way, and southerly by Pequit Brook. This property in 17 19 
was occupied by Jabez Searl, who died in 1724. After David 
Tilden's death it was, in 1764, occupied by David, Jr. The- 
ophilus Lyon, a grandson of David Tilden, owned it in 1787, 
and sold it to Priest Howard in that year. The house was 
built by David Tilden and is standing. 

David Tilden, a grandson of Nathaniel, the immigrant, was 
the first of the name in this town, and married Abigail 
Pitcher. He appears to have been interested in town and 
church matters, and swept the meeting-house. He had 
some difficulty with his neighbors, and was once charged 
with being " unduly transported " with the cup that inebri- 
ates. He and his wife are buried in the Canton Cemetery. 
The stones are inscribed as follows : — 


" In memory of Mr. David Tilden, who died July y'= 3'' 1756, in y"' 
71" year of his age." 

" In memory of Abigail, widow of Mr. David Tilden, died June y 
25* 1758 in y'^ 71^' year of her age." 

(26) Samuel Hartwell, one of the English tenants, received 
from the Indians fifty-nine and one quarter acres of land. It 
was situated on the south and north side of Taunton road, so 
called, and bounded northwest by Pequit Brook, northeast, 
south, and southeast by the land of Moses and Benjamin 
Gill. The house which he built in 171 7 is standing on Pleas- 
ant Street, and is now occupied by the Pitcher family. Hart- 
well purchased more land, and sold in 1735 one hundred and 
twenty-four acres. 

He was the son of Samuel Hartwell, who lived in what is 
now the town of Lincoln, and was a brother of Deacon Jo- 
seph, who was also settled here. Samuel was born Nov. 12, 
1693. He married Abigail Stearns. The name of Hartwell's 
Dam was given to the point where Pequit Brook crosses 
Pleasant Street as early as 1723. 

(27) Moses and Benjamin Gill received one large tract of 
172 acres on the east and west sides of the way called Taun- 
ton Old Way. It was bounded northerly and westerly by 
Pequit Brook, westerly and easterly by the land of Samuel 
Hartwell, and easterly by that of Nathaniel Ayers ; southwest 
and south by Indian land in part, and by land of Joseph 
Esty ; east and south by Hartwell's land ; east by the Indian 
land ; north by the property of David Stone, Joseph Esty, 
and Joshua Pomeroy. It is substantially the land on Pleasant 
Street lying between Pequit Brook and Sherman Street, on 
both sides of the street. They appear to have received a 
tract of sixty acres, which they sold in 1734 to William Sher- 
man. They carried on a law-suit with John Wentworth and 
William Sherman about boundary lines. Moses died June 
22, 1749, and Benjamin one week later. 

(28) Ebenezer Clapp appears to have received only nine 
and one half acres in the Ponkapoag Plantation, although he 
had land which he inherited from his ancestors in the "Twelve 
Divisions," his father deeding him, in 1716, land in Lot No. 8, 


"lying beyond the land of Ponkapoag," now the Dunbar 
farm. He gave the name to Clapp's Hill. His land was 
bounded southeast by the way leading to the ironworks, 
southwest by the land of Benjamin Smith, northwest by Dor- 
chester line, and northeast by the land of Philip Goodwin. 

Ebenezer was the son of Ezra and Abigail (Pond) Clapp. 
He married (i) Nov. ii, 1702, Elizabeth Dickerman, in Mil- 
ton; (2) Feb. 14, 1719, Abigail Belcher. He was a promi- 
nent man in town and church affairs, but died in poverty, 
Aug. 27, 1 761. No stone marks his grave. His widow died 
Jan. s, 1780. 

(29) Philip Goodwin was living, in 1729, in a house situated 
on the south side of Chapman Street, between the land of 
Daniel Stone, James Endicott, and Benjamin Smith, now 
owned by Joseph W. Wattles. 

He was the only Canton soldier of Capt. John Withing- 
ton's Canada company of i6go that received in 1737 in his 
own right a portion of the town now called Ashburnham, for 
his services in that campaign. In 1717 he appears as part 
owner in " Hors Shew " Swamp ; and the church record shows 
that on March 16, 1718, Abigail, daughter of Philip and 
Elizabeth Goodwin, was baptized. In 1734 he was the owner 
of a mill; he sold or exchanged his house on Chapman 
Street in 1739, and we find him, in 1741, at the Danforth 
mill, grinding corn. He owned the covenant and was bap- 
tized in 1744; and Elizabeth having died Dec. 5, 1743, he 
married Mehitable Andrews on May 22 of the next year. 
She died Nov. 25, 1795 ; he died Dec. 24, 1759. 

(30) Timothy Jones received, in 1725, twenty acres, with a 
house then on it, bounded on the northwest by Dorchester 
line, and southeast by the road leading to the ironworks. 

Timothy Jones was here in 1717, and built a frame for a 
dam. He was one of the eight original builders of the first 
ironworks at the Stone Factory privilege. He was probably 
the grandson of Richard, of Dorchester, one of the proprie- 
tors of the "Twelve Division" lots, who died in 1642. 
Timothy married, May 28, 1719, Elizabeth Fames, who died 
July 13, 1792, aged ninety-six. He died Sept. 17, 1761. 


His house was situated near where Mr. Sumner White now 

(31) Joseph Smith received thirty-two acres, bounded 
northwest and southwest by the Ponkapoag Hne. It touched 
the Massapoag Brook at its southwestern boundary. It was 
bounded southeast by land of Elijah Danforth, Esq., and 
northeasterly by land of Timothy Jones. In 1732 Mr. 
Smith made an exchange with Ebenezer Mosely for land 
south of Dry Pond, and removed from this town. 

(32) Richard Smith appears as one of the original church 
founders in 17 17, and occupied land at the present Stone 
Factory the same year. He had formerly belonged to the 
church at Milton, where he appears to have been taxed as 
late as 1709. He died Feb. 10, 1728. He had a son Joseph, 
born Feb. 18, 1683, by his second wife, Thankful Lyon. 

(33) Joseph Tucker received from the Indians fifty-three 
acres of land, bounded west by the road now Washington 
Street as it runs through South Canton, on the northeast by 
the land of John Vose, east by the Indian land, south by the 
Ponkapoag line, and on the southwest by Massapoag Brook. 
This land extended from the residence of the late William 
Shattuck to the brook south of the Massapoag House; he 
also owned ten acres on the west side of the road. 

(34) William Sherman and John Wentworth took 270 
acres ; but it seems that the value of the land was not deter- 
mined for some years, and that the purchasers made several 
applications to the General Court that this might be accu- 
rately decided upon, as they were ready to pay the purchase- 
money for the use of the Indians. 

Upon this petition the General Court ordered that Amos 
Ahauton and the other Indian proprietors of Ponkapoag be 
and hereby are fully empowered to execute a good deed of 
sale of such part of the 270 acres of land within mentioned 
as is not orchard land, or has not been under special im- 
provement of the Indians (containing in the whole about ten 
acres), to John Wentworth and William Sherman, their heirs 
and assigns respectively; and that John Quincy, Esq., and 
Mr. Oxenbridge Thacher, of the House of Representatives, 
and Ezekiel Lewis, Esq., of the Council, be empowered to 


inspect the survey, and see that the deed is agreeable thereto, 
which they are to certify thereon ; and that thereupon the 
said Wentworth and Sherman do pay into the hands of John 
Quincy, Esq., trustee for the Indian affairs of Ponkapoag, 
the sum of £,170, to be by him employed as the other 
Indians' money in his hands, the charge thereof to be 
defrayed by the petitioners. 

The gentlemen appointed attended to the matter, sold the 
land for ;^i8o 4J., being the purchase-money, with interest 
added, and reported that the money had been paid, and was 
subject to the order of the court; and it was ordered to be 
put at interest for the benefit of the Indians. 

An indenture was made bearing date Oct 14, 1734, between 
Amos Ahauton, Thomas Ahauton, Simon George, Hezekiah 
Squamaug, and George Hunter, all residents in Ponkapoag, 
in behalf of themselves and the other Indians that were or 
might be interested therein, on the one part, and John Went- 
worth and William Sherman, both of Stoughton aforesaid, on 
the other part. By this deed a clear title was obtained to the 
land, pursuant to the Act of General Court of 1701. 

In April, 1735, John Fenno, Joseph Tucker, and others rep- 
resented to the General Court that there was great contention 
in Stoughton in regard to the land obtained from the Pon- 
kapoag Indians; that the matter had been carried into the 
courts, and great expense at law had been occasioned ; they 
therefore desired that the court would issue such orders as 
would settle and compose these difficulties. The court, in 
reply, ordered Thomas Cashing to repair to Stoughton and 
hear the petitioners, examine deeds, leases, and plats, and 
have the lands surveyed by a skilful surveyor. Cushing 
recommended (May, 1735) that the 270 acres be confirmed 
to Sherman and Wentworth and their heirs, provided that 
the said land did not extend farther east than " John Went- 
worth's Beaver Meadow," nor interfere with the " Twelve 
Divisions," and declared that Joseph Esty should have a 
right of way from his field to the road. 

Moses and Benjamin Gill began in October, 1736, an action 
of trespass and ejectment against William Sherman for part 
of the land contained in Sherman's deed and plan. In the in- 


ferior court the Gills were successful in their suit, but Sher- 
man appealed to the Superior Court at Boston ; and the court 
in February, 1737, ordered Mr. James Blake to go to Stough- 
ton and ascertain the authentic bounds of the land in dispute. 
Upon his arrival, the Gills did not show Mr. Blake any bounds ; 
but Sherman showed him marked trees which divided the land 
of Gill and Esty from the Indian land. 

This deed, and the plan of the land which accompanied it, 
were duly examined and approbated by Quincy and Thacher, 
and they found no error or mistake in it. The next year, 
April, 1736, Moses and Benjamin Gill, Joseph Esty, with 
others, presented a petition to the General Court, in which 
they asserted that William Sherman and John Wentworth had 
been guilty of " incroachments." The matter was referred to 
Hon. Thomas Gushing, Benjamin Dyre, and Samuel Dan- 
forth, Esqs., who visited Stoughton, read over the deeds and 
plans, and reported that they ought to "stand good and 
valid ; " but not satisfied with the decision of the agents of 
the General Court, no evidence was produced either by Gill 
or Sherman, and Blake decided that if the trees were the 
bounds, the land in contest was included in Sherman's land, 
and so reported to the Superior Court in August, 1737; but 
Sherman having no proof of ownership, judgment was given 
for Gill. But Sherman at the next session of the court pro- 
duced sufficient evidence to win his case. All this dispute 
apparently arose about three quarters of an acre of land. 

(35) Joseph Esty received by deed thirty-seven and one 
half acres in three different lots. The homestead, consisting 
of six and three quarters acres, is the place now occupied by 
George F. H. Horton, on Pleasant Street. In 1712 Joseph 
Esty conveyed to his son, Joseph Esty, Jr., seventy acres of 
land on Pleasant Street, which had formerly belonged to the 
proprietors of Ponkapoag, and by them, with the consent of 
the selectmen of Dorchester, had been sold and conveyed to 
Joseph, Sr. He died Oct. 13, 1739. 

(36) Joshua Pomeroy received sixty-one and one quarter 
acres of land south of Joseph Esty and north of Benjamin and 
Moses Gill, on Ragged Row. He was described in 1 725 as 



one of the English tenants, and in sale of a portion of this land 
said it was a part of the six thousand acres that he purchased 
in 1725. This is the farm subsequently occupied by Aaron 
Wentworth, Samuel Capen, Israel Bailey, and W. W. Brooks. 
Joshua Pomeroy, when he joined the church, Dec. 17, 1719, 
was said to have been " last of Dorchester and firstly of the 
church of Deerfield." He married, Feb. 4, 1708, Repent 
Weeks, who died July 22, 1714; and (2) June 2, 1715, Mary, 
daughter of John and Hannah Blake, who died March 14, 
1 71 8; (3) Oct. I, 171 8, Mary Clapp, of Dedham. 

(37) Thomas and Joseph Jordan received five hundred 
and twenty-three acres, bounded on the east by the Dorches- 
ter line, northwest by the Fenno farm, and west and south by 
a brook. This was on the road leading from the farms to 
Bear Swamp, now York Street. , 

Thomas and Joseph were sons of John the lessee. Thomas 
was born 1683, and died April 20, 1750. 

(38) In addition to this large tract, Thomas Jordan re- 
ceived twenty acres, bounded easterly on Dorchester line in 
part, and partly by a brook. The other land about it was at 
the time of the taking of the deed, Indian land. Joseph Jor- 
dan married Abigail Pitcher, Oct. 18, 1716. He died May 6, 
17SS ; she died Feb. 24, 1762. 

The six thousand acres, by direction of the General Court 
and the hands of the duly appointed guardians of the Ponka- 
poag Indians, by degrees passed from the possession of the 
aborigines and their descendants; and in November, 1827, 
Thomas French, their guardian, sold the last acre. 

And here we leave the landed history of the Ponkapoag 
Plantation. It is a subject which might be extended in- 
definitely. New and untrodden paths continually tempt the 
investigator ; but a limit must be assigned, if not to the inves- 
tigation, to the results of such research in print. Having 
traced the land titles of Canton, derived from the Indians 
through the first quarter of the eighteenth century, I leave to 
others the puzzling task of unravelling the oldtime deeds.^ 

1 See Appendix VII. 



THE early settlers of Canton, in common with all the early 
settlers of New England, believed in God, — not in a 
■distant and unapproachable being, who held a general super- 
vision over his creatures, but in a God to whom the minute 
details of every-day life were a subject of interest and inspi- 
ration ; they thought that his hand was as visible in these as in 
the majesty of the storm or the beauty of the rainbow. The 
more pious felt that as they attended to or neglected the in- 
stitutions of religion, they should in the world to come receive 
the curse or the blessing. To such the Church of Christ was 
the " Alpha and Omega," and civil were secondary and sub- 
servient to ecclesiastical matters. A majority of the mem- 
bers of the General Court expressed the sentiments of the 
people when, in 1692, they passed a law approved by the 
King, that every person should pay his proportionate share 
toward the support of " an able, learned, and Orthodox min- 
ister to dispense the word of God to them." And every 
minister, being a person of " good conversation," chosen by 
the major part of the town at a regular town meeting, legally 
held, was to be " the minister of such town." The inhabit- 
ants of Dorchester Village were anxious to have a minister 
among them. The nearest meeting-house was many miles 
away, or, as they quaintly expressed it, " from a sence of 5^ 
remote living from any place of y= public worship of God." 
Thither, through the snows of winter, following the Indian 
trail, designated by marked trees or piles of stones, they went, 
anon pausing to remove a tree broken by the weight of the 
snow, or carefully picking their way through the unbroken 
drifts. The more fortunate rode on horseback, and the " good- 
wife " was seated behind the " goodman " upon a pillion. 


Feeling deeply this inconvenience, the inhabitants of the 
" New Grant" represented to the town of Dorchester that they 
were very uneasy, and petitioned the town that they might be 
set off as a separate precinct. On May 12, 1707, upon the 
request of the inhabitants of the " New Grant," the town of 
Dorchester voted that the said inhabitants be set off, a pre- 
cinct by themselves, so far and no farther than to agree with 
and to settle a minister among them, and to raise a tax for 
his support from time to time. But attached to this liberty 
was the condition that the said inhabitants " shall remove their 
meeting-house," or erect another where it shall be thought 
convenient by a committee which shall be chosen by the town 
of Dorchester for that purpose. This language would seem 
to indicate that the house was not conveniently situated for 
the majority of the inhabitants, although it would appear to 
have been of ample size. From these statements we aire also^ 
enabled to fix the time when the village of Ponkapoag ceased 
to be the centre of population. 

The first meeting-house stood in that part of the English 
churchyard which is known as the Proprietors' Lot. It was 
probably built by the apostle Eliot, although a writer in the 
Boston "Transcript," in 1871, says that it was not built until 
1705.^ As a rate was placed, upon the inhabitants in this part 
of the town that year " to pay their minister," it shows that 
the English settlers had a pastor at that time. William 
Ahauton, Samuel Momentaug, and Amos Ahauton, Indians 
of Ponkapoag in 1708, in behalf of their tribe, thanked the 
town of Dorchester for its care of them and their interests, in 
settling the boundaries between them and their white neigh- 
bors ; and understanding that the town was offended because 
they had leased their land to the English, promised to lease 
no more, and gave up all their right to that parcel of land 
about the Ponkapoag meeting-house, containing about three 
acres, " for a burying place and training field." 

This first meeting-house was sold to Ebenezer Tolman, of 
Dorchester, who removed it thither, and converted it into a 
barn, where it remained within my remembrance. 

1 Mr. Samuel C. Downes says that he has always heard that there was a meet- 
ing-house on this site long before the erection of the English church. 


The committee chosen by the town of Dorchester to ap- 
point the place where the meeting-house should stand, con- 
sisted of Samuel Topliff, Samuel Clapp, and Samuel Wales. 
They notified the petitioners when they would meet them 
and consult about the matter. Accordingly, in the early part 
of June they viewed the places proposed, and finally agreed 
" that the meeting-house should be set on the hithermost or 
northerly end of y° plaine commonly called by the Indians, 
" Packeen Plaine,' upon the right hand side of the road 
leading from Milton towards Rehoboth ; " and the spot se- 
lected was upon the land which is now included in the Canton 
Cemetery. I find no conveyance of this land to the precinct. 
The records of the precinct show that a committee was ap- 
pointed March 3, 1721, " to inquire into y° Precincts title to 
y° land, and to get a stronger confirmation of y° same if 
need be; " but the committee in their report confine them- 
selves to running the bounds, and the rats have left to us 
•only this information : — 

March 15, 1722, and we have opened . . . limits of the Meeting- 
House land, and we find the . . . From the south corner of the Rhode 
twenty ... on ye east and twelve rods to a black . . . and a half 
to a stake : and on the west end . . 

Samuel Chandler told me that Mr. Morse gave the land. 
I have seen a plan of Morse's land which shows that he 
owned twelve acres in this vicinity, while his deed, in 1725, 
gives him only ten acres. 

In deciding on the site for the new house, the Dorchester 
committee and the settlers were governed in their selection 
by its nearness to the centre of population at that time. The 
meeting-house was set on a hill, so that it could not be hid. 
The most beautiful and appropriate spot was selected ; the 
sightliness of its position also afforded a view of any ap- 
proaching danger to the majority of the inhabitants. Thus, 
everything having been satisfactorily arranged, the town of 
Dorchester gave to the settlers ;^30 to assist them in com- 
pleting their meeting-house. 

This meeting-house was situated nearer the westerly part of 


the plain than its successor, or in other words, directly back 
of it. Its southwest line was nearly parallel to the northeast 
side of the reservoir of the Canton Aqueduct Company, and 
covered the spot which is now occupied partly by Lots 55, 56, 
57, 62, 65, 64, as represented on the plan of the second addi- 
tion to the Canton Cemetery. The building was thirty feet 
square and supported by uprights twelve feet high. 

Although the inhabitants of the " New Grant " had " set 
about" building their meeting-house in 1707, it was some 
time before it was completed. In 171 6 the precinct voted 
that there should be ;^IS raised by a rate upon the inhabit- 
ants, and that the money should go toward finishing the 
meeting-house. John Fenno and Richard Hixson were chosen 
to receive the money, engage workmen, and pay them for 
their labor. The next year a new door was made near the 
west corner of the meeting-house, and the seats were joined 
together in the centre of the house. The spaces thus left 
vacant on the sides were subsequently replaced by long seats. 
In 1718 ;^20 was raised, a portion of which was ordered 
to be laid out upon the meeting-house. 

In 1720 the house seems to have been in a dilapidated- 
condition, for a committee was appointed " to save y° meet- 
ing-house." The sills had become rotten, and needed to be 
" banked up ; " the roof was not much protection on a rainy 
day ; and the minister's pew was tottering. 

It would appear that this meeting-house had galleries, for 
March i, 1724, it was voted by the precinct " that thare 
should be a seet or sects set up in the gallarry, which may 
be thoft nedfull; " and in 1740 it was decided that the best 
place for the boys was in " y'- frunt higher galary and y" 
west higher galary." 

The seating of the meeting-house was an event of great 
importance. In this precinct that delicate duty was per- 
formed by Henry Crane, Samuel Bullard, John Fenno, Joseph 
Hewins, and John Pufifer. I say delicate, because there was 
great discussion as to the award of the places of honor and 
dignity. In the seating of the worshippers in the meeting- 
house, regard was had in the first place to the age and hon- 


orable standing of the person. Again, the amount each 
contributed toward the ministerial rate had its influence ; and 
the committee had a hard time to decide who should have 
the chief seats, and at the same time not offend the others. 

In 1727 an article was inserted in the warrant for town 
meeting to consider upon " making more rume in the Meet- 
ing House," and the following year to take measures to 
enlarge and repair the meeting-house. 

The pew adjoining the west end of the pulpit was reserved 
for the family of Mr. Dunbar; and in 1731 a floor was laid, 
and window made, in this pew. A part of the meeting-house 
was reserved for the Indians for their encouragement to 
attend upon the public worship of God. 

There are some curious old bills relating to repairs upon 
the meeting-house ; for instance, William Wheeler received 
for " sweeping y" meeting-hous the sum of two pound, eight 
shillings, from March, 1734, to March, I73S-" Ebenezer 
Wiswall presented the following bill: — 

To three feet and a half of new glass at three shil- 
lings, six pence, per foot £0,^2, 3 

To seventy-eight quaries at five pence a peise . . 1,12, 6 

To leading and bands i, 9, 7 

To mending the pew windows 12, 3 

£4, 6, 7 
March 20, 1737-8. 

The use of the word " quaries " in this bill leads to the infer- 
ence that some if not all of the lights were diamond-shaped, 
set in lead. Mr. Wiswall was a Dorchester man, and was 
frequently in demand to mend the windows, and is spoken 
of as a " glashur." 

The same year Joshua Whittemore presented a bill of five 
shillings for mending " y= old wenders and for making of y" 
new glass for Stoting old meeting-huse." 

The house remained standing until 1748, when, on the 
14th of August, it was voted that the old meeting-house 
be " puld " down for " y= use of y' new as soon as y' new 
cun be conveinently met in on y Sabbath." 


On the 23d of October, 1747, the Rev. Mr. Dunbar 
preached his farewell sermon in the old meeting-house. 
His text was from Heb. x. 32, "But call to remembrance 
the former days." Would that a copy of that sermon were 
in existence to-day, that we might follow the reverend gentle- 
man as he reviewed the history of the old meeting-house, 
and the people who were accustomed to worship within its 
sacred walls ! A large and crowded audience honored him 
with their presence; and on that occasion he undoubtedly 
upheld the reputation which he had acquired of being " a 
rousing preacher." 

Here, in a sparsely settled community, in an almost un- 
broken forest, the meeting-house was built, and the voice of 
the first minister was heard therein, upon the spot where, but 
a short time before, had smouldered the embers of the war- 
fire. He not only preached the word of God to those who 
had left the shores of cultured England to worship Him as 
they thought best; but he taught forgiveness and forbear- 
ance toward enemies to the untutored savage also, whose 
only creed had been revenge. 

Here was erected the church, which, hand in hand with 
the schoolhouse, was destined to extend the power of religion 
and of education throughout the land, concurrently with the 
extension of that land's political growth. 

The committee chosen by the town of Dorchester to select 
a situation for the meeting-house were also empowered to 
lay out the bounds of the precinct. They began at a pile 
of stones upon the plain near Blue Hill, which was formerly 
a part of Captain Stoughton's farm, ran north and north- 
easterly over the top of Blue Hill to the Braintree line, 
thence following the Braintree line to the Plymouth line; 
" this line to be the southern boundary." The west bounds 
began at the westerly part of "Mashapaug" Pond, thence 
.ran northeast to the Dedham line, " this Dedham line to be 
the northern boundary until it comes to the stones first 

We have seen that the town of Dorchester had willingly 
granted the petition of the inhabitants of the " New Grant " 


to be set off as a separate precinct ; but a petition addressed 
to the General Court for an Act of incorporation, soon after 
June 23, 1708, had been unsuccessful. It received the ap- 
probation of the House of Representatives, but was not con- 
curred in by the Council. This placed the early settlers in a 
very awkward position. They had no legal corporate exist- 
ence; they might pass whatever votes they chose among 
themselves, but they had no power to enforce them. They 
could select and settle a minister, as any precinct or parish 
might do ; but they could not tax the inhabitants to pay for 
his support. The clergyman whom they had chosen could 
not be ordained ; the sacrament could not be administered, 
nor the rite of baptism performed, unless their pastor were 
assisted by some ordained clergyman. 

The hardships arising from this state of things were numer- 
ous. It was difficult to obtain the necessary funds to pay the 
minister. Many of the settlers had become discouraged, and 
although perfectly able to bear their portion of the expense, 
either refused downright to do so, or were so dilatory in their 
payments as to render their aid useless; consequently, the 
burden of payment fell heavily upon a few. So hard was it 
to raise funds that the minister was obliged to appeal to the 
town of Dorchester for a contribution for himself, which was 
granted him. 

Again, the young men and maidens found that this state of 
things interfered with their comfort. If they desired to be 
married, they must go to Milton or some neighboring town, 
and be joined in matrimony by an ordained clergyman. So 
they had to go from home, in order that their children might 
receive baptism from consecrated hands. Sometimes, indeed, 
the settlers would postpone their weddings or the baptism of 
their children until some ordained clergyman should come 
to the new village. The Rev. Peter Thacher, who was settled 
at Milton, September, 168 1, was the nearest ordained minis- 
ter, and was better known to the early settlers than any 
other clergyman in the vicinity. At first his labors had 
been devoted to the conversion of the Indians at Ponka- 
poag. To render his ministrations more effective, he had 


Studied the Indian tongue; and Mather says "he furnished 
himself with skill in their sesquipedalian language," that he 
might be able to converse with them in their own dialect. 
He visited Ponkapoag monthly, and on lecture-days imparted 
to them the gospel of salvation. In this way he became 
acquainted with the settlers ; and they, appreciating his moral 
worth and his exemplary character, were accustomed to 
carry their children to him to be baptized. So it happened 
that the dates of many of the baptisms of the children of 
the first inhabitants are found upon the church records of 
Milton. He performed the first baptism in Canton of which 
we have any information : — 

"Feb. 27, 1707-8. — Punkapog. At a fast of y° English inhabit- 
ants, Mr. Danforth, of Dorchester, preached in the forenoon, and I in 
y" afternoon ; and at y° close of y° public worship, Mr. Danforth ad- 
vising it, I baptized Mary, y° daughter of Sister Wintworth." 

Peter Thacher died in 1727. He had a son, Oxenbridge, 
born May 17, 1681, who graduated at Harvard College in 
1698, and joined his father's church at Milton, March 3, 
1700-1. He preached for a short time in his early life, and 
is sometimes styled " Reverend ; " although in the Triennial 
Catalogue of his university his name is not italicized, from 
which it may be inferred that he was not ordained. It is un- 
doubtedly true that he entered into an arrangement to preach 
to the first settlers at some time subsequent to 1700, and 
previous to 1707. He may be the person referred to in the 
vote of Dorchester, 1705, Dec. 10, "Voted that the select- 
men shall make a rate upon all the inhabitants of Dorchester 
beyond the Blue Hills to pay their minister." He is recorded 
as having been the first man to preach to the English inhabit- 
ants of Canton. I do not believe he resided in Canton ; and 
I think his preaching was of short duration and missionary in 
its character. He left the ministry on account of ill health, 
and engaged in business in Boston. At his father's death he 
returned to Milton, and for several years represented that 
town at the General Court. He died Oct. 29, 1772, at the 
advanced age of ninety-three years. He had two grandsons 


who were clergymen, sons of the eminent lawyer and patriot 
of the same name, who died in Boston in 1767. These 
were Rev. Thomas Thacher, who was settled at West Ded- 
ham, and the more distinguished Rev. Peter Thacher, D. D., 
of Brattle Square, Boston. One of the original settlers of 
Canton went over to Dedham in his old age to hear Thomas, 
the grandson of his old friend Oxenbridge, preach ; and when 
he had finished his discourse, the old settler approached him 
in a rapture of enthusiasm, and exclaimed, "Your grand- 
father Oxenbridge was the first man that brought a Bible 
among us." 

But the time had now come when the early settlers were 
anxious to have a clergyman of their own. They were averse 
to calling upon some neighboring minister to perform pa- 
rochial ofiices; and, as before stated, they had no legal 
authority to raise money. Suffering deeply from the dis- 
couragements attending their condition, they resolved again 
to apply to the General Court for an Act of incorporation. 
In their petition they represented that they lived very re- 
mote from any place of public worship, the nearest being six 
miles distant. They gave a detailed account of the attempt 
which they had made to be set off as a separate precinct. 
They mentioned that they had met with the committee ap- 
pointed by the town of Dorchester, and that they had mu- 
tually agreed upon a site for their meeting-house ; and they 
stated that their former petition had passed in the House of 
Representatives, but had not been concurred in by the Coun- 
cil. They prayed, therefore, that the General Court would 
please to confirm the town vote and the doings of the com- 
mittee thereupon, and that they might be a distinct precinct, 
empowered to choose fit persons among themselves to assess 
and levy a tax for the support of their minister and the de- 
fraying of other charges, and to do such other acts as might 
be agreeable to the laws. 

The General Court, on the loth of December, 1715, granted 
the prayer of the petitioners, and they were duly constituted 
on that day with full powers to exercise all the rights inci- 


dent to a separate precinct; and on the 19th of the same 
month the order was read and concurred in by the Council, 
as will appear by the following : — 

In the House of Representatives, 

December i oth, 1715. Read and 

Ordered that the Prayer of this petition be granted so far as, that a 

new precinct be constituted and sett off with all the necessary powers 

and privileges used and exercised in precincts for the maintenance of 

the gospel ministry, agreeable to the limits and conditions expressed 

in the report of the committee appointed by the town of Dorchester 

for that end, which is signed, Samuel Clap, Samuel Topliff, and Samuel 


Sent up for Concurrence, 

Daniel Epes, Speak'r pro-Tempore. 

December 19th, 1715. In Council, Read and Concurred. 

Samuel Woodward, Seer. 

Consented to, W" Tailer. 

The " New Grant," from this time forward called the Dor- 
chester South Precinct, including a large portion of Wren- 
tham, extended to a point within about one hundred and 
seventy-six rods of what is now the easterly line of the State 
of Rhode Island; namely, about half a mile beyond Angle 
Tree. The South Precinct of Dorchester was about nineteen 
and a half miles long on its southerly line ; and the last four 
and a half miles of that line was on what is now the south 
line of Wrentham. 

" The New Grant was bounded southerly by the line of the colony 
of Plymouth, now called the Old Colony Line, northeasterly by Milton 
and that part of Braintree now Randolph, and included the present 
towns of Canton, Sharon, and Stoughton, nearly all, if not quite all, of 
Foxboro', a large tract of Wrentham, and about one quarter of the 
present town ol Dedham. That tract now belonging to Dedham is a 
tract of land varying in width from one mile and one third to three 
fourths of a mile along on the westerly side of Canton, and may be 
seen by drawing, upon the map of the County of Norfolk, a straight 


line from the angle or bend of Neponset River in South Dedham to a 
point in Dedham about three fourths of a mUe northwesterly of the 
north corner of Canton, where the boundary line between Canton and 
Milton strikes the Neponset River, and by drawing another straight 
line from the said bend in the river to Sharon line." 

On the 28th of March, 1716, the early settlers assembled 
for the first time to enjoy their new liberties. Joseph Hewins 
seems to have had his full share of honors on the occasion. 
The precinct chose a moderator to preside over their delib- 
erations; and they selected Joseph Hewins. They chose a 
precinct clerk to make good and legible records of their 
doings; and Mr. Joseph Hewins was again selected. They 
also proceeded to choose three assessors ; and of course Mr. 
Joseph Hewins's name was added to those of Henry Crane 
and John Fenno.^ 

The records of the precinct until the incorporation of 
Stoughton are of no particular interest. The men of those 
days seem to have attended diligently to the duties which 
devolved upon them, but these were very limited. At most 
of their meetings, the common subjects of discussion were : 
the raising of money to defray the necessary charges of the 
precinct, and to pay the minister; the choosing of a clerk 
and assessors, the latter of whom managed the " prudentials " 
of the embryo town ; the question of what title the precinct 
had to the land on which its meeting-house was situated ; and 
whether this or that man should be allowed to withdraw 
from them. But in the midst of these minor details, they 
always looked forward to becoming a township. As early 
as 1 71 8, they voted to petition the town of Dorchester to 

^ Joseph Hewins was the son of Jacob Hewins, of Dorchester, born May 3, 
l668. He appears as one of the lessees of Reynolds's Misery in 1705. He resided 
in what is now Sharon from that time until his death, which occurred Feb. 24, 
1755, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. He married, Jan. 29, 1690, Mehita- 
ble Lyon, daughter of Peter. She was born Oct. 23, 1669, and died Sept. 14, 
1733, in her sixty-third year. Mr. Dunbar says "she was a gracious woman, a 
very peacable, humble Christian." They lived near Meadow Hole Dam, and 
both are buried in the Chestnut Tree Cemetery. He appears to have been an 
active man in church, precinct, and town affairs. He was chosen deacon with 
Benjamin Blackman in 1718, and afterward elder, and was one of the first se- 
lectmen of Stoughton, town clerk in 1730, moderator and assessor in 1738. 


set them off as a township, to be bounded the same as the 
precinct then was. FaiHng in this, the next year they de- 
sired their part of the ministerial land and their proportion of 
the school fund of their mother town. Then the southern 
part of the precinct became uneasy, and was anxious to be 
set off a township; but to this of course the northern part 

In March, 172 1, the inhabitants living "beyond Joseph 
Tucker's saw-mill " desired that they might be constituted 
into a township ; and the May following their petition was 
again heard, but was " passed in the negative." A petition 
was subsequently preferred from the " Inhabitants of Punka- 
poag" to be a township. On Nov. 8, 1725, however, it was 
voted by the town of Dorchester " that the inhabitants of the 
South Precinct and all the lands beyond should be set off a 
township by themselves, they having their proportionate part 
of the school lands lying within that part to be set off." This 
was " passed in the affirmative," — thirty-four to twenty-nine. 
Preserved Capen, Ebenezer Holmes, and Edward Foster 
were appointed a committee to draw up a petition and pre- 
sent it to the General Court; and later, a similar vote was 
passed, the following change occurring in the phraseology: 
" The inhabitants on y" south side of Sawmill River in y' 
twelve divisions," and " that all y° land beyond y° six thou- 
sand acres, or Ponkapoag Plantation, be set off a distinct 

The inhabitants of the extreme western part of the Dor- 
chester South Precinct were anxious to be set off and attached 
to the town of Wrentham. They resided within three or four 
miles of the meeting-house in that town; and on town meet- 
ing and training days it was far more convenient to go there 
than to Dorchester Village. They applied to the town of 
Dorchester to be set off; but the town denied them their 
wish, and they therefore petitioned the General Court on 
June 19, 1724. A hearing was had. The town of Dorchester 
objected, but the General Court granted their request ; and 
on Nov. 27, 1724, a large portion of the South Precinct was 
attached to, and has ever since remained, a part of the town 


of Wrentham, as will be seen from the following extract from 
the records of the General Court : — 

Upon the petition of Jonathan Blake, Solomon Hews, and sundry 
others, Inhabitants of the Westermost part of Dorchester, praying to 
be set off to the town of Wrentham, as entered June 19th, 1724, — 

In the House of Representatives, Read together with the answer of 
the town of Dorchester thereto, and in answer to this petition : 

Voted, that the petitioners and their estates be and hereby are an- 
nexed to the town of Wrentham, to do the duty and enjoy the privi- 
leges of the Inhabitants in that town, the School Farm in Dorchester, 
in the present possession and improvement of Solomon Hews, to be 
exempted, and that they be freed from doing duty to Dorchester, and 
they are so to continue until this Court take further order about them. 

In Council, Read and Concurred. 

Consented to, . Wm. Dummer. 

By drawing a line on the map of Norfolk County from the 
southerly extremity of Walpole to a point about two thirds 
of the way from Angle Tree to the Rhode Island line, the 
size of this part may be ascertained ; and the reader will ob- 
serve that the territory thus taken from the South Precinct 
was about as large as one half of the present town of 

The efforts of the inhabitants of the South Precinct to be- 
come a town were at last to be crowned with success. The 
last official act of the precinct was to receive and grant the 
petition of Samuel Bullard, John Bullard, Ebenezer BuUard, 
Samuel Bullard, Jr., William Bacon, Timothy Gay, Hezekiah 
Gay, Ebenezer Healy, Samuel Holmes, John Holmes, Simon 
Pittee, Josiah White, James White, James White, Jr., John 
White, Moses White, and B. White, all living in the westerly 
part of the precinct, beyond the Fowl meadows. They said 
that they had for some time contended with many difficulties 
and hardships with respect to the enjoyment of public wor- 
ship, their distance from the meeting-house, and the " diffi- 
culty of the way." They wished to be freed from rates " so 
long as we shall hire and maintain an orthodox minister to 
preach the gospel among ourselves." 

On the 14th of November, 1726, Capt. Isaac Royall, Ensign 


William Billings, Capt. John Shepard, Silas Crane, and 
George Talbot were appointed a committee with full powers 
to petition the Great and General Court — 

"That this precinct with the lands be yand it, in y" Township of 
Dorchester, be sett of a distinct Township, with y" one half or propor- 
tionable part of the annual incom of y' School lands lying withm y° 
south part of s'd Town, according to a vote of y° Town of Dorchester 
passed at a Meeting of y° Inhabitants of s'd Town, on the eight day of 
November, 1725." 

On the 22d of December, 1726, the South Precinct of Dor- 
chester ceased to exist; and the old record-book closes as 
follows : " John Fenno, Peter Lyon, and Joseph Tucker, As- 
sessors of y° South Precinct in Dorchester, now called and 
formed into y' town called Stoughton." 

The creation of a new municipality rendered a change ne- 
cessary in the manner of supporting public worship. For- 
merly, all such matters had been transacted in town meeting ; 
and the calling to account in 1731 of Joseph Tucker, John 
Fenno, and Peter Lyon, who had been in charge of the pru- 
dentials since 1726, would seem to indicate that the time had 
arrived when it was necessary for those who were interested 
in the church to take charge of it and conduct its affairs 
themselves. An Act passed in the tenth year of the reign of 
George L had given liberty to five or more of the freeholders 
to petition to a justice of the peace for a warrant. Advantage 
of this was taken by William Crane, George Talbot, John 
Shepard, Silas Crane, and Charles Wentworth, who applied to 
Isaac Royall, Esq., who on the 17th of March issued in due 
form with a seal his warrant, notifying the freeholders and 
other inhabitants to " meet at our public meeting house in 
Stoughton on Monday the fift day of Aprill next att two of 
the clock in the afternoon." At this meeting, only an organi- 
zation was effected. 

" Whereas five of the freeholders of the first precinct in Stoughton 
(viz.), William Crane, George Talbot, John Sheppard, Silus Crane, and 
Charles Wentworth (agreeable to an made In the tenth year of 
King George Y" first. Chap, the 5) made applycation unto me the 



Subscriber to Issue out a warrent for the assembleing of the free 
holders and other Inhabitants s'^ quallyfied to vote in town affairs. 
These are tharefore In his majesties name to Require you, William 
Crane, forthwith to notifie y° Inhabitants affors'', as the Law directs 
in the affor^'' act, that they meet at our public meeting house In 
Stoughton on Monday, the fift of Aprill next, att two of the clock in 
the afternoon, for the Ends and purposes hereafter mentioned : — 

1. To choos a Moderator. 

2. To choos a Clerk. 

3. To choos assessors. 

4. To choos a com'"= to call meetings for the futer. 

Givin under my hand and seal att Stoughton, March the 17*. In 
the ninth year of his Majesties Reigne, anno domi 1735/6. 

Isaac Royall, 

y us' peace. 




JOSEPH MORSE, the first settled minister of the " New 
Grant," or Dorchester Village, was born at Medfield, 
May 25, 1671, and was the son of Joseph and Priscilla (Col- 
burn) Morse. He was graduated at Harvard College in 
1695. After leaving college, he went to Providence, and 
while engaged in teaching school there, fell in love with and 
married Miss Amity Harris of that place. In 1701 he went 
to Watertown Precinct, where he also taught school, and 
gathered a congregation, who built him a meeting-house; 
and on July 6, 1702, a call was extended to him to settle over 
them. But difficulties subsequently arose which could not be 
settled; the church was not organized, and he was not or- 
dained. He however continued to preach to them until 1 706, 
when a council of churches, held on March 6, " advise that 
after a month Mr. Joseph Morse cease to preach at Water- 
town farms." In January, 1707, he came to the "New Vil- 
lage,'' now Canton, and remained preaching here amid all the 
discouragements of the times for ten years and nine months. 
At the expiration of that time, a council was held, at which 
the churches in Dorchester, Milton, Dedham, and the two 
churches at Braintree were represented. A covenant consist- 
ing of eight articles was agreed upon and signed by twenty 
persons, ten of whom were connected with the neighboring 
churches, and ten non-communicants, whom the council on 
the 26th day of the preceding June, 171 7, had examined and 
approbated, in order that they might be ready to form a 
part of the church organization. The following are their 
names, — the first ten were the members of neighboring 
churches: Joseph Morse, Richard Smith, Peter Lyon, Sam- 


uel Andrews, Joseph Esty, Isaac Stearns, Benjamin Blackman, 
Joseph Hewins, George Talbot, John Withington, Benjamin 
Esty, Thomas Spurr, Joseph Topliff, Robert Pelton, John 
Wentworth, David Stone, Benjamin Gill, William Wheeler, 
Edward Bailey, Samuel Hartwell. 

The brethren that belonged to Milton Church before the 
ordination, — namely, Samuel Pitcher, Richard Smith, Peter 
Lyon, and George Talbot, — not having obtained their dismis- 
sion from Milton Church before the ordination day, were not 
"actually and personally in signing the covenant," and in being 
of the foundation on that day; but soon after, November 12, 
they obtained their dismissal. They then signed the cove- 
nant, and came up in full with the rest of their brethren, ex- 
cept Samuel Pitcher, whom the Lord removed by death, 
Nov. 23, 1717, the day after the first church meeting. "John 
Withington, being ill at the time of the ordination, signed 
the covenant." 

On the 30th of October, 1717, the Rev. Joseph Morse 
was ordained as pastor of the church in Dorchester Village.^ 
His record reads : " God, in and by His wonderful Providence 
and favor, did arrive and bring His people into this South 
Precinct of Dorchester to church gathering and ordination, 
on the thirtieth day of October, 1717." The Rev. John 
Danforth, of Dorchester, preached the sermon from Heb. 
xiii. 17: "Obey them that have the rule over you and sub- 
mit yourselves, for they watch for your souls as they that 
must give account." Mr. Danforth gave the charge, and 
Rev. Joseph Belcher, of Dedham, the right hand of fellow- 
ship ; the latter also managed the votes. Mr. Peter Thacher, 
of Milton, was invited to be present, but had not returned 
from Connecticut. His church, however, was represented 
by delegates. The following ministers imposed hands, — 
Messrs. Danforth, Belcher, Niles, and Marsh. 

At the time of his ordination, Mr. Morse was in the forty- 
seventh year of his age. Aside from the encouragement he 
had received from the people who were interested and be- 
lieved in the church, the inhabitants had taken steps to assist 
1 See Appendix VIII. 


him pecuniarily, as will be seen by the following abstract of a 
portion of the precinct records : — 

At a Precinct meeting legally warned in Dorchester, April the 
20th, 17 16, Samuel Andrews, Moderator, the same day it was voted 
that the inhabitants of said Precinct would give to Mr. Joseph Morse 
forty pounds, annually, so long as he shall uphold and perform the 
work of the ministry among them. The same day it was voted that 
there should be fifteen pounds raised by Rate upon the inhabitants 
and Rateable Estates within this Precinct, and laid out upon the 
Meeting House, as far as that would go towards the finishing of it. 

Five pounds more Rate were voted to defray the necessary charges 
of said Precinct. A committee, consisting of John Fenno and Richard 
Hixson, were chosen to receive the money that was granted for the 
Meeting House, and for other necessary charges arising within said 
Precinct, and to hire workmen to do the work about the Meeting 
House, and pay them for their work. At a Precinct meeting held 
July II, 1716, Joseph Hewins, Moderator, the same day was voted 
that there should be four shillings levied upon the poll in the Minis- 
ter's Rate this present year. The same day it was voted in the affir- 
mative that the assessors receive and pay Mr. Morse his salerey, and 
that the constable should make up his accounts with them. 

While matters had without doubt gone on smoothly during 
the decade before the church organization was perfected, 
the very fact of organization seems to have brought trouble 
to the pastor and the flock. Scarcely two months had 
elapsed after the people had been exhorted to obey them 
that had the rule over them, when a disposition was mani- 
fested by two members of the church to create a disturbance ; 
or possibly other members of the church were desirous of 
testing the strength of the new organization. Brother Peter 
Lyon was accused of making certain rash and imprudent 
speeches, and finding fault with the manner in which the 
brethren approbated by the reverend elders had been received 
into the church without making " formal relations." 

At the first meeting held after the ordination, Nov. 22, 
1717, it was voted that the church should keep a book, and 
record therein all the regular church acts and votes for the 


Committees were also chosen to assist the minister about 
his firewood, to raise a contribution for the Lord's Table, and 
to ask Dorchester Church to give something for the same 
purpose. Dec. lO, 171 7, £3 3s. id. having been received, it 
was devoted to the purposes above mentioned. 

On the 5 th day of January, 1718, the celebration of the 
Lord's Supper took place; and through the goodness and 
mercy of God the church all sat down at the Lord's Table in 
peace and unity. Although " many clouds came over us, 
yet the Lord appeared our deliverer, ... to whom be glory 
and praise forever. Amen." 

The first child baptized after the ordination was David, 
son of Shubael and Damaris Wentworth, on Jan. 19, 1718. 

At the fifth meeting of the church, held on February 14, the 
same year, it was decided upon mature consideration that the 
administration of the Lord's Supper should take place once 
in six weeks. The question also came up at this time 
whether those persons who made application to the pastor 
to join the church in full communion, or only to own the 
covenant in order to enjoy the rights of baptism, should 
have their cases " propounded " to the church first, and then 
to the congregation, or to b9th at the same time ; and with 
rather unusual liberality for those days, it was decided that 
they should be propounded, in general, to the church and 
congregation together. Upon this occasion, two covenants 
were prepared, — one called " an abbreviation of our cov't," 
designed for those persons to engage in who desired to be 
received into full communion ; the other, " a brief draft of 
y° cov't," designed for the signature of those persons " who 
are desirous to fall under y° watch and care of y° church," 
and who desired " y' y ordinance of baptism may be admin- 
istered to them and theirs according to y° order of y' Gospel 
of Jesus Christ." 

They are as follows. The first, — 

" You doe here, in y° presence of y" Almighty God and his people, 
solemnly take and chuse y° Lord Jehovah to be your God, promising 
and covenanting with his help to fear him and cleave to him in love 
and to serve him in truth with all your heart, giving up yourself and 


your seed after you in cov' with God and this Church to be the 
Lord's Intirely, and to be att his Direction and Disposal in all things, 
y' you may have and hold communion with him and this ch*" as a 
member of Christ's mysticall Body, according to his Revealed will, to 
your lives' end. 

" You doe also take y° Holy Scriptures to be your Rule of life to 
walk by, whereby you may discern y° mind of Christ, endeavoring to 
live in y faithful improvement of all opportunities to worship God, 
according to all his Gospel Institutions, Taking y° great Imanuel, y' 
Son of God, to be your Savior and Redeemer in all his offices, prom- 
ising to afford your attendance upon y' public dispensation of God's 
Word, y" Administration of y° Ordinances of Jesus Christ, especially 
y' of y" Lord's Supper, as God in his Holy providence shall give you 

" You also engage, with y^ Lord's help, by virtue of Christ's Death, 
to mortifie all sin and disorderly or vile and sinful affections, and to 
abstain from all sin, especially from scandalous sins, as y° Lord shall 
help you, y' you may not depart from y° living God, But y' you may 
live a Ufa of Holiness, and obedience to y' Revealed will of God. 

" You promise you will peaceably submit yourself to y" Holy Dis- 
cipline appointed by Jesus Christ in his church, and you doe now 
offer yourself up to y° Care, Government, and watch of this church, 
obeying y"" y' have y° rule over you in y° Lord. Of y' integrity of 
your Heart herein you call God, y° searcher of all hearts, to wittnesse, 
beseeching him to enable you to keep this Covenant inviolably to 
God's glory and your own spiritual good and edification, and where 
you shall fail in observing and keeping it, you begg y" Lord's forgive- 
ness and pardon and healing, for y" sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The second, — 

" You doe now take and avouch f Great Jehovah to be your God, 
and y' Lord Jesus Christ to be your Great high priest, prophet, and 
King. You give up yourself and yours to Jesus Christ, to be in- 
structed, pardoned, justiyed, sanctiyed, comforted, and eternally saved 
by him. 

" You also promise to walk according to y° holy scriptures. Endeav- 
oring as far as God shall enable you, to abstain from all sin, and to 
walk in y" ways of Holiness and Obedience to God, and in y° ob- 
servation of all Duty both towards God and man, as is expected 


and Required of you by y° word of God, or in y' gospel of Jesus 

" You now promise to walk in y° Regular observation of all such 
Holy Ordinances as you are now capable off, or shall be capable off 

"You also cov' and promise to submit to y'' watch, government, 
and care and discipline of this church or of Jesus Christ in it.'' 

At the same meeting it was proposed whether or no the 
church should proceed to " y° election or chusing of a person 
or persons to serve as Deacons in y" said church. It was 
concluded in y° affirmative." 

" It was voted y' two persons should be chosen as deacons in s** 

" As to the method of choosing the persons it was agreed and voted 
that ' every man should chuse and vote for himself whom God should 
direct and incline his heart, without any Nomination, and y' That 
brother that hath y^ most votes should be the first Deacon, — and so 
in like manner we will vote aU over a second time, — and he y' hath 
•f most votes in -f second voting, be y' second Deacon. In this way 
y' ch'^ voted very peaceably ; and in y° first voting, the vote fell 
on Brother Joseph Hewins ; and in y' second voting, y° vote fell on 
Brother Benjamin Blackman, who accordingly took y° weighty matter 
into consideration.' " 

It was also voted " that y° Deacons should dispose of 
y" fragments at y° Lord's Table, either by bestowing them 
upon y" minister," or in any other way in which they should 
see fit 

At the sixth church meeting, which was held May 15, 
1718, the two gentlemen who had been appointed to serve as 
deacons accepted the position, believing that in the hearty 
vote they had received " there was much of the voice of 
God." At said meeting, — 

" It was agreed upon to set apart a day for fasting and prayer by 
s" Ch**, and to hold it in public in y° Meeting House, for to seek the 
Lord's favor and the smiles of His Countenance to rest on this Ch*" 
and Congregation, and that Religion and trew Godliness might be 
advanced, and -f peace thereof and prosperity of both Ch"* and 
Congregation might be continued and enlarged by God Almighty." 


Accordingly, the 4th day of June, 1718, was so kept; and 
the congregation joined publicly with the church in its 

This year was remarkable for a great deal of sickness 
among the early inhabitants. About the middle of August 
it is said there were seventy people sick in Ponkapoag. Mr. 
Morse says in his record that — 

"In the month of September, 17 18, was a great sickness in this 
place. Several died, y" Minister being near Death, but mercifully 
spared, being absent from y° Lord's House thirteen Sabbaths ; whereof 
ten of y" were suppUed by y° help of Mr. McKinstry, — y° congre- 
gation being without preaching three Sabbaths." 

The matter must have been very grievous and serious, not 
only from the number of persons who died, but from the 
inability to procure nurses for the sick. The church-mem- 
bers gathered together in the early winter, after the great 
affliction, and spent some time in prayer, and made the best 
plans they could for the future under such disheartening 

Mr. John McKinstry, mentioned above, was graduated 
from the University of Edinburgh in 17 12, and arrived 
in this country only a month before the time he assisted 
Mr. Morse. 

No event of importance occurred during the next few 
years. Children were born ; young men and maidens were 
joined in wedlock ; and many of the elder and English-born 
settlers were carried to their last resting-places. Gilbert En- 
dicott had died in 1 716, and was the first person buried in 
the cemetery. The church affairs went on smoothly. It was 
deemed advisable to appoint an elder and another deacon to 
" assist and strengthen y" church in y° maintaining y' king- 
dom and encouraging y" interest of Christ among this peo- 
ple." Deacon Joseph Hewins and Brother Isaac Stearns had 
been chosen elder and deacon respectively; and they had 
received the compliment of a large and " clear " vote, Hewins 
having been raised from the office of deacon, and Stearns 
made associate with Benjamin Blackman. Minor matters 


had been attended to as well. The vessels of the Lord's 
Table had been burnished and cleaned by the good wife of 
the pastor ; the church building had been repaired ; and the 
seating of the meeting-house had taken place. 

On Jan. 8, 1721, we find this singular entry in the church 
records : "Hodie nostra soror Maria y * * * * * nostrce eccle- 
sicB confessionem dedit pro ebrietate." 

For some years everything had gone smoothly; no bitter- 
ness had sprung up to trouble the church, and the pastor 
appears to have enjoyed the esteem and affection of his peo- 
ple. But this happy state of things was soon to be inter- 
rupted. In those days the office of deacon was regarded with 
very great respect; for instance, we find that Deacon Joseph 
Hewins was a month in deciding whether or not he should 
accept the office of elder. Much more importance was at- 
tached to it than at the present day. It was therefore of the 
highest moment for the usefulness and happiness of a min- 
ister, that he should possess the confidence and support of 
his deacons. The deacons considered themselves as umpires 
on matters of doctrine, and, letting the greater part of the 
sermon slip by without interest, were on the alert to detect 
and remember the slightest dogmatical inaccuracy or un- 
guarded expression which in the hurry of composition might 
have escaped, from the pen of the minister. Thus Mr. Morse 
fell under the censure of one of his deacons for preaching 
false doctrine. This charge, preferred by one of such high 
standing and authority in the church, was the cause of much 
alarm and difficulty. Meetings and fasts were held con- 
cerning it, and the communion was suspended for more than 
six months. Finally the church voted that they were not 
dissatisfied with their pastor on account of the allegations 
brought against him. The deacon was obliged to make con- 
cessions, was restored to favor, and the ordinances were again 
resumed. But although the opposition from Deacon Stearns 
had subsided, the trouble was not allayed. The spirit of jeal- 
ousy and distrust, so destructive to the usefulness of a minis- 
ter and the happiness of a people, had been awakened. The 
disaffected only awaited an opportunity for a fresh attack; 


nor was it long before an occasion offered itself. It appears 
that for some reason, the nature of which we know not, Mr. 
Morse was summoned to appear before a committee of the 
General Court. Mr. Elhanan Lyon, who seems to have been a 
thorn in the flesh both to Mr. Morse and his successor, took 
exceptions to the testimony the latter had given before this 
committee, and exhibited it to the church as a ground of 
complaint. The church at first voted that the matter did 
not properly come within ecclesiastical jurisdiction ; and the 
parties were advised to adjust the matter amicably among 
themselves. All attempts at a reconciliation, however, proved 
fruitless : animosities were strengthened ; new charges were 
preferred ; and it was deemed advisable to call an ecclesiasti- 
cal council to hear and determine the difficulties between the 

The council accordingly convened, and after mature de- 
liberation rendered its decision. This decision was com- 
municated to the church, but was not accepted. In that 
part which implied a censure on the pastor, not a single 
hand was raised in favor of its admission. The parties were 
again desired to retire and endeavor to become reconciled. 
This proposition was acceded to; and mutual concessions 
and acknowledgments took place, which were communicated 
in writing to the ruling elder and read to the church, to the 
great joy and satisfaction of most of its members. But this 
was not the end. In church matters, dissatisfaction is seldom, 
if ever, confined to the breast where it first originated ; from 
the deflection of a single individual, many may be converted 
into enemies. This seems to have been the case with this 
society at the time of which I am writing. Grounds of com- 
plaint, at first trifling, gradually assumed a more and more 
formidable aspect, till the harmony of the church and society 
was destroyed. 

New complications having arisen, at a church meeting held 
on the 28th of April, 1726, it was voted that a council, to 
consist of the churches of Milton, Medfield, Braintree South 
Church, Roxbury Second Church, and Dedham Church, be 
invited to meet at Dorchester South Precinct, on May 18 


following, " to assist and afford us help under our present cir- 
cumstances." The council rendered its decision, but when 
put to vote in church meeting on the 14th of June following, 
some of the brethren signified that they did not very well 
understand it; and others declared that they did not care 
to be concerned in it at all. 

On the loth of September, 1726, an adjourned meeting 
of the council was held at Dorchester Village; but in the 
interim the dissatisfaction evinced by Mr. Morse's people had 
not only continued, but greatly increased. At this time the 
reverend council listened with patience to what both parties 
had to say. The matter was debated ; and the council de- 
clared that in their judgment " Mr. Morse had by his enor- 
mities of life rendered himself unworthy of the ministry ; and 
that as a testimony against the scandalous crimes which ap- 
peared against him, he ought not any longer to be allowed 
to fulfil the duties of his office." This damaging decision 
was passed by a majority of one. The Rev. Messrs. Baker, 
Niles, and Thayer, Deacons Smith and Bass, Captain Guild, 
Mr. Newell, and Mr. Fisher, did not believe in " silencing " 
Mr. Morse, but advised that he ask and that the people 
give him a dismissal, in order that he might be at liberty to 
preach where he would be appreciated, and that the people 
might be at liberty to obtain and settle another minister as 
soon as they desired ; but nevertheless they deemed it advis- 
able that Mr. Morse should be sharply rebuked for his " sin- 
ful misconduct," and the people as severely rebuked for their 
" wicked irregularity." The Reverend Moderator, the Rev. 
Samuel Dexter, Deacons Tucker, Metcalf, and Barber, and 
Messrs. Davis and Lyon voted to " silence him." 

On July 17, 1727, another council, consisting of nine 
churches, assembled at Dedham, which censured both par- 
ties, in all probability with justice, — requiring them to ac- 
knowledge their faults to each other, and to cover everything 
with the broad mantle of charity, and not to bring up against 
each other the things of the past ; assuring them at the same 
time that if they did not do so, and thereby remove the 
scandal they were lying under, they were to be looked upon 


as " scandalous and disorderly," and were to be dealt with as 
such by neighboring churches. But many of the council 
were dissatisfied with this majority report ; for it was asserted 
that since the last session of the council at the New Village, 
Mr. Morse had behaved in such a way that it was deemed 
advisable not only to silence him, but to vote him unworthy 
of the Christian ministry. The Rev. Samuel Dexter, at 
whose house the council sat, averred that he thought it 
would have been more to the glory of God and the interest 
of religion if this had been done, rather than simply to dis- 
miss Mr. Morse from his pastorate. His reasons for so be- 
lieving have been preserved to us, and I give them in full, as 
they throw a different light upon the matter from any that I 
have heretofore seen. 

" His [Mr. Morse's] addicting himself to false speaking, criminal 
lying, as I think appeared most evident ; for by a cloud of witnesses, 
three in particular of the council, it was evident that he has been, not 
only once or twice, but it has been the manner of his life, guilty of 
notorious breach of promise with respect to the payment of his just 
dues. The circumstances of the case make it evident that he would 
promise what he had no prospect of fulfilling, and when he had prom- 
ised had no regard to endeavor to do it. Witness, Deacon Tucker ; 
witness, Mr. Dwight ; witness, Colonel Thatcher, &c. And then it 
appeared to me that if a lie would save Mr. Morse in his name, credit, 
or estate, he would not stick at telling it, and that in a constant 

"Several I think he was detected in, in the presence of the council; 
and though he was ready either in word or writing to confess his fault 
of that nature, yet in no case to amend it, — witness, when the council 
brought in the first result, — they found Mr. Morse guilty of designed 
false speaking. He confesses his fault, asks forgiveness, and prom- 
ises reformation. Immediately upon the council's withdrawing from 
the public, he follows them and declares that the cliurch had sent a 
committee to him to desire him to desire the council to advise him to 
ask a dismission, and the church to give him one, which, when in- 
quired into, appeared not to be so ; those that were sent declared that 
they went on no such errand. 

" When the council met a second time at Punkepaug. I think it 
was made evident that Mr. Morse told an absolute falsehood to the 


council, the greater part of the church, and several of the congrega- 
tion, with respect to his bringing Elhanan Lyon's confession to the 
church in the room of his own ; for to the church he declared he 
thought it had been his own, and knew not his mistake till such time 
as the church sent word and informed him. But there were a great 
number that declared that as he came from his own house to the 
meeting-house, he had the paper in his hands which he gave them, 
and had it open ; and they thought he was reading in it as he came 
along. He came into the meeting-house, went into the deacon's 
seat, opened the paper, and held it before his eyes for a considerable 
time, and we thought he was going to read it to them himself; but 
immediately he hands it to them himself and broke away from them, 
though they entreated him to tarry. Now, how it is possible that Mr. 
Morse should look on and peruse a paper so long and yet not know 
what it was, is unaccountable to me. I would be as charitable to Mr. 
Morse as I have ground for ; but I cannot think he spoke the truth 
when he said he did not know what he did. 

" At the council at Dedham Elder Hewins was not there. Mr. 
Morse was charged with doing something that his people looked upon 
as irregular. He declared he did it by the advice and at the desire of 
Elder Hewins ; but Elder Hewins solemnly declares that he never ad- 
vised with him about it, — that it was done in his presence, but not at 
his desire. 

"At the last council at Punkepaug it was made to appear that 
Mr. Morse had lied with respect to his having drunk to excess. For 
some years past there had been a rumor that Mr. Morse had been 
drunk at Colonel Spurr's, at Dorchester. His brethren, some of them, 
were dissatisfied, but could not get any proof of it, because Col. 
Spurr and family refused to give an account of the affair. But nine of 
them meeting at his house one day, upon other busmess, the subject 
was soon turned upon this old affair. Mr. Morse equivocated for 
some time, but finally told them it was a false accusation, and he was 
not drunk. Upon hearing this, Col. Spurr and wife and some of the 
family declare that he was. 

" In the council he declared that the church by a vote, which he 
had upon records at home, had passed that offence by and buried it 
in oblivion. But it appeared by Elder Hewins and some of the 
brethren that there had never been a church meeting in which that 
matter had ever been mentioned, and so there could be no church 
vote, and no record of it, unless it -was forged. 


" Add to this, that the people of general esteem in the neighboring 
towns who have had dealing with Mr. Morse, say that they have 
found him/a/se; some say that they would as soon trust a Punkapaug 
Indian as Mr. Morse ; others, that he is not a man of truth. Now, I 
think the preachers of truth should be men of truth, and it is a scan- 
dal to religion and the ministry to uphold and countenance a man as 
a teacher of the truth of Christ who is no more a practicer of it 

" It was proved against Mr. Morse that he had been twice over- 
come with strong drink ; and it is said, how truly I cannot say, that 
. . . and . . . are frequently there ' disguised ; ' that Mr. Morse is 
often so, to the knowledge of particular persons, which, because they 
cannot prove in a legal manner, they do not insist upon. 

" It was proved by the evidence of two persons that while they 
sojourned in his house Mr. Morse lived in the gre^t neglect of family 
prayer. It is very evident that Mr. Morse has been very sinful and 
shamefully irregular in his conduct as a minister and as a Christian, 
in setting an ill example before his people, and in neglecting that 
Christian faithfulness and watch over them which he ought to have 
had. His people were almost universally dissatisfied with him ; his 
officers have forsaken him, although one of the Ruling Elders stood 
by him as long as he durst ; and the people's aversion to him so radi- 
ated that without a wonderful and almost miraculous interposition of 
Heaven there was no prospect of recovery. All of these considera- 
tions moved me to vote that Mr. Morse was not worthy to be contin- 
ued in the sacred ministry." ^ 

1 [The Editors, in pursuance of their purpose to print the text of this work as 
Mr. Huntoon left it, have decided to let the extract from the diary of the Rev. 
Mr. Dexter stand as they find it, although it is evident that Mr. Huntoon did 
not give full credit to the accusations against Mr. Morse which the diary states 
so sharply. For this reason, and in justice to Mr Morse and to those who may 
cherish his memory, the Editors cannot forbear calling attention to the fact that 
the charges in the Dexter diary are made by one who, in the bitter controversy 
of which Mr. Morse was the subject, sided with the party opposed to the 
accused minister, and that these charges are not stated with such particulars of 
time, place, or persons as make the diary of much value to a student wishing to 
get at the rights of the unfortunate controversy. The facts are not to be lost 
sight of that Mr. Morse was a man much more liberal in points of doctrine and 
observance than most of the ministers and church officers of his time; that the 
controversy began with a charge, preferred by one of the deacons, of teaching 
lax doctrine, and that the charges of per.sonal misconduct, afterward imported 
into it, were possibly afterthoughts on the part of the enemies of Mr. Morse ; 


The members of the First Church were not particularly 
pleased with that portion of the report of the reverend coun- 
cil which, in no uncertain terms, referred to them and " their 
wicked irregularity." They deemed it unfair that the corpo- 
rate body should bear blame which justly belonged to indi- 
vidual members, and desired that the stigma should rest 
upon those who from the beginning had instigated these 
unhappy proceedings. 

The pastoral relations of Mr. Morse with the society soon 
afterward ceased; the long controversy was drawing to a 
close. On the manner of its ending, the church records 
throw no light; but from original contemporaneous docu- 
ments we learn that Mr. Morse was dismissed by the church, 
and that his work ceased. 

Many of the freeholders were anxious that the town should 
also take some action in the matter ; and ten of the inhabitants 
requested, on the iSth day of May, 1727, that the town would 
vote " to dismiss him from his ministerial office, as the church 
had from his pastoral." We know not what action the town 
took in the matter ; but at a subsequent meeting the town 
agreed to pay the charges of the several sessions of the 
Ecclesiastical Council of five churches that had been held 
since May 18, 1726. 

The mutual acknowledgments recommended by the coun- 

that considering the free habits of the time in the use of intoxicating liquors, 
the charge of drunkenness was one most easily made and most diflScult to dis- 
prove ; that the charge of falsehood is almost always bandied back and forth in 
bitter personal controversies, particularly, it would seem, in church controver- 
sies ; and that it is difficult to understand, if Mr. Morse were really guilty of the 
enormities charged upon him, why his sentence should have been merely dis- 
missal from the pastorate, he remaining in the fold of the church ; and, further, 
why the people of Randolph were ready to receive him, not into Christian fel- 
lowship merely, but as their pastor and spiritual guide. As to the charges, 
made without specifications, of dishonesty in pecuniary matters, it is to be 
remembered that the parties lived in a very litigious community, that Mr. 
Morse had many bitter enemies determined to drive him from the ministry, and 
that an effectual help to accomplishing this would have been to pursue him with 
suits upon his personal obligations, had there been such unfulfilled. But while 
he was threatened with criminal prosecution for his failure to attend upon 
divine worship, it does not appear that suits for debts were ever brought 
against him in the civil courts.] 


cil did not take place for some time, Mr. Morse laboring 
under the impression that the acknowledgments were to be 
made to him, and the church that they were to be made to 
them. For the reason above mentioned Mr. Morse with- 
drew from the celebration of the Lord's Supper for some 
time after the ordination of his successor ; and when a com- 
mittee from the church waited on and desired him to give a 
reason for his conduct, the answer he gave them was that the 
acknowledgments had not been made. It is probable that 
his former church-members threatened to prosecute him ; for 
he afterward attended service often enough to comply with 
the letter of the law, but would carry with him a large 
wad of cotton, which, upon the beginning of the exer- 
cises, he would deliberately pull out and stuff irito his 
ears, so that not a word of the sermon should reach him. A 
story was circulated, for the truthfulness of which we cannot 
vouch, that Rev. Mr. Dunbar, the successor of Mr. Morse, 
once presented him with his ministerial rate-bill, requesting 
him to pay for his share of the preaching. Mr. Morse said 
that he had received no benefit from the preaching, as he 
had not attended church. Mr. Dunbar replied, " That makes 
no difference ; the preaching was there, and you might have 
had it." A few weeks afterward Mr. Morse presented Mr. 
Dunbar with a bill for three pigs; but, said the reverend 
gentleman, " I never had any pigs of you." " That makes no 
difference," replied Mr. Morse ; " the pigs were in the sty, if 
you had chosen to take them." 

The desire of some members of the council that " Mr. 
Morse might be at liberty to preach where he would be ap- 
preciated " seems to have some foundation in reason. Mr. 
Morse appears to have had many friends in what is now 
Randolph; for he was invited, March 19, 1729, to settle with 
them, and a contribution was subsequently taken up for his 

It is at this day almost impossible, in the absence of any 
contemporary biography, to give a correct estimate of the 
life and character of a man who did his appointed work in 
this place, more than one hundred and fifty years ago. From 


all the sources of information to which we have access, Mr. 
Morse appears to have been an amiable man and a correct 
scholar. He was not formed by nature to contend with oppo- 
sition. Possessed of much sensibility of heart and of feeble 
constitution, he sank under the burden that oppressed him, 
and becoming roused by, as he believed, ill and unjust treat- 
ment, became stubborn, unreasonable, and uncompromising. 
Among his flock there were discordant spirits who were 
not disposed to yield to authority; and at Dorchester Vil- 
lage, as in the place of his former settlement, he seems to 
have been subject to constant warfare. He had not the 
vigor of body or mind to take those vigorous and active 
measures to crush out insubordination and rebellion, which 
proved so effectual in the hands of his successor. Find- 
ing the situation arduous, he stepped down, accepting the 
judgments of others, — possibly with meekness and Chris- 
tian resignation, probably not, — and from the position of 
guide and pastor descended to that of an insubordinate 

But it is on the earher and brighter days of his ministry 
that we love to linger. From the church covenant which he 
adopted we conclude that he was not the devoted servant of 
a party, but a sincere believer in the great fundamental doc- 
trines of Christianity, — repentance, faith, love, and obedience. 
In this instrument there is nothing of that illiberal, exclusive, 
sectarian phraseology which was apparent in the creeds of a 
later generation. He taught, if he did not practise, what he 
believed; and although some considered his preaching as 
heterodox, there is reason to believe that he was in reality 
only a little in advance of his time. 

We have said that he was a correct scholar. He came to 
Dorchester New Village as a school-teacher, and having been 
liberally educated, was undoubtedly well qualified to teach 
the young men and women of the village in secular matters. 
In this work he was assisted by his wife, — a woman whose 
name deserves veneration and praise from all to whom her 
merits shall become known. The enthusiasm of the Eliots 
had filled the hearts of both with a desire to benefit the Indian 
' 8 


as well as the white man ; so the house of the first minister 
became the favorite resort of the poor Indian who desired 
spiritual light for himself or education for his children. 

Around Mr. Morse's capacious fireplace they were pleased 
to meet and hear his kindly words. He instilled into their 
untutored minds the principle of the Golden Rule; and 
though it was beyond his power to prevent the natural stock 
from wasting away, yet he could inculcate into their hearts 
the principles of the faith he held. Nor were the Indians 
ungrateful; for in June, 1710, they gave to Mr. Morse a cer- 
tain tract of land containing thirty-five acres, and put it into 
his " possession and occupation," for the purpose of encour- 
aging him to preach the word of God among them, and to 
visit them in their sickness and pray with them. They also 
desired that Mrs. Morse should be repaid for keeping the 
Indian school among them ; but by some mistake, after Mr. 
and Mrs. Morse had been peaceably in possession of this 
land for a considerable time, the Indians included this in a 
much larger tract of land, which they let out to Mr. Gilbert 
Endicott, whose son built upon the land, and was then in 
possession of it. The Indians themselves expressed great 
regret for this blunder, as it had operated greatly to the in- 
jury and damage of Mr. Morse and his wife. They desired 
to rectify their error and grant to the Morses another tract of 
land in another place. On April 13, 1726, a petition for leave 
to do this, signed by Thomas Ahauton, Thomas Ahauton, Jr., 
Hezekiah Squamaug, Simon George, and George Hunter was 
presented to the General Court, in which their reasons were 
set forth at length : — 

" In the first place : In that Mr. Morse hath preached the Word 
of God to us for the space of seventeen or eighteen years last past on 
proper occasions and at suitable times when we could meet together, 
not being scattered abroad, at our hunting houses. 

" In the second place : In that Mrs. Amity Morse did keep our 
Indian School for some very considerable time, till sickness came and 
broke up the school. She taught diverse of our children the English 
primer and psalter and testament, and brought them forward in the 
English tongue. 


" In the third place : In that Mr. Morse hath helped us in our 
difficult circumstances [the Indians especially refer to the years 17 17 
and 1 718, when they were visited with great sickness, being especially 
troubled with the measles and fever and ague]." 

They asserted that they had received at several times pro- 
visions and clothing from Mr. Morse, and that when death had 
visited their tribe, Mr. Morse had given them boards and nails 
to make coffins in which to bury their dead. Not only this, 
but it would appear that Mr. Morse had actually paid to the 
Indians considerable money on account of the land which had 
been given him by them in 1710, and which was now in the 
possession of another. 

This appeal to the General Court was not without effect ; 
and the Indians were allowed to give to Mr. and Mrs. Morse a 
tract of unoccupied land containing one hundred and sixteen 
acres then lately surveyed by Mr. Woodward, of Dedham, " at 
the desire and the expense of the Indians." 

Mr. Morse's experience in receiving his salary was not un- 
like that of many of his brethren in the ministry, both before 
and after his time. A committee had been appointed shortly 
after his ordination to gather in his old debts, and in 171 8 
he received from the precinct £2S in addition to his 
former wages; and the first and last Mondays in February 
were set apart as special days for settling all accounts with 
the pastor. In spite of the yearly stipend of £60, which 
he received during the years 1719 to 1722 inclusive, the old 
arrears of 171 7 and before still hung over him like a cloud, 
notwithstanding the precinct had often voted that they should 
be cleared up. 

The town of Dorchester treated Mr. Morse very liberally; 
they voted seventy-five acres of land for the benefit of those 
ministers who shall be ordained beyond " the blue hills," and 
a gift of seventy-five acres to the first minister who shall settle 
in the new village. Twice Mr. Morse received aid from the 
town ; and when he complained of the difficulty he had in 
obtaining his salary according to agreement, the town of Dor- 
chester allowed Mr. Morse, as well as their own minister, to 
take his salary out of the town treasury. 


The proprietors allowed Mr. Morse liberty to get cedar 
out of their cedar swamps, and also gave him the improve- 
ment of about twelve acres of meadow. 

Mr. Morse's house was situated opposite the meeting-house 
of those days, on the southerly side of the street. The 
cellar is still visible in the southwest corner of the Catholic 

Many persons with whom I have conversed will remember 
the old-fashioned low wooden house in which he lived. It 
must have been a pleasant place in those days. Directly in 
the rear of the house was a well-cultivated kitchen-garden, 
which, sloping gradually toward the south, formed a kind of 
basin, and was protected on all sides from the wind. At the 
foot of this natural depression was the well, which was very 
deep, — tradition says ninety feet ; so deep that in a bright 
day stars could be seen by one who descended into it. Toward 
the east was the orchard, which, planted in early days, bore, 
seventy years ago, an abundance of apples. It is said that 
after Mr. Morse's disaffection with his people he was in the 
habit of sitting all day Sunday in this orchard, to keep, as he 
said, " the Christians from stealing my apples." 

That he died possessed of £1,76^ ^s. 6d., would seem to 
indicate that he was " not slothful in business," and had 
accumulated a handsome competence during his lifetime. 
The inventory of his effects shows him to have had a good 
library. He had a pewter tankard for daily use, and a silver 
one for great occasions. He ate from pewter dishes, and 
warmed his bed with a warming-pan. He wore a gold ring, 
and carried a handsome cane; and in the house were two 
looms on which the females of his house wove. He died 
Nov. 29, 1732, and his successor in the ministry made the 
following entry in the record-book of the old church : — 

"December i, 1732. This day was interred the Rev. Mr. Joseph 
Morse, a member of this church, and first pastor of this church." 

He was buried in the oldest part of the old cemetery. His 
wife, who took excellent " care of the vessels of the Lord's 
Table from the first improvement of them," lies beside him. 


An old-fashioned moss-covered stone, ornamented at the top 
with a skull rudely cut, and flanked by two smaller ones in 
the same grotesque style of art, bears the following quaint 
epitaph : — 



Nov' y' 29"" 1732 IN y" 61^' year of his age 

Within this silent grave here now doth ly • 
Him that is gone unto Eternity 
Who when he liv'd was by good men respected 
Although by others was perhaps rejected 
Yet that don't hinder his Triumphing Joy 
With saints above where nought can him annoy 

In the Evangelical Congregational Church in Canton a mu- 
ral tablet to his memory has been placed by Elijah Adams 







THE Street now known as Washington Street begins at 
the Milton line, and runs to the Sharon line, near Cobb's 
tavern. This is our most ancient road, — the king's high- 
way. Portions of it were in existence during the middle of 
the seventeenth century, as the way to Rhode Island. The 
northern part, where it passes Blue Hill, is mentioned in 
1690, and in 1694 is called the "common road," as it passes 
PufTer's farm. In i/cxj it was laid out by the selectmen of 
Dorchester three rods in width, and was called " the road 
leading to Billings'," meaning the tavern in Sharon, where it 
joined the road leading from Boston, through Dedham, to 
Seekonk. Thus it followed substantially the existing high- 
way.-' In 1707 it was called the "road leading to Rehoboth." 
In 171 2 it was again laid out. 

It was at a later date called the "country road," or the 
" main road leading to Rhode Island." In 1743 it was called 
the "Taunton road; " in 1785, the "great road from Boston 
to Taunton ; " in 1799, the " main road ; " in 1800, the " great 
road;" again in 1830, the "Taunton road;" and in 1840 it 
received from the town the name of Washington Street. 

This road has changed its course at various points since 
first laid out. It entered on the Canton line at a variation 
from its present course, turned to the left near the great oak 
opposite Cherry Tavern, then crossed the present street to 
the right, north of the Bussey house, and hugging the western 
base of the hill came into a portion of what is now Green 
Lodge Street. South of Ridge Hill it made a ddtour to the 

1 See Appendix V- 


left of Jake's Pond, and went around instead of over Pine 
Woods Hill, the present course being adopted in 1831. At 
Canton Corner it bore to the right of Packeen Plain. 

In 1757 James Endicott petitioned to have the way turned 
near his house ; and the town voted to turn the way on the 
northeasterly side of Mr. Endicott's, at a small hill near Mr. 
Thomas Shepard's land, provided Endicott should give the 
land, and the way could be made passable. From Endicott's 
the road ran substantially as follows. Crossing the brook near 
the present site of the Kinsley Iron and Machine Company's 
Works, it continued to what is now High Street, when it fol- 
lowed that street to the present Sharon line. This part of it 
was at one time called " the road to Mashapog." 

Returning again to Milton, at the junction of Green Street 
and what is called in Milton Canton Avenue, — our Washing- 
ton Street, — we find on what is now Green Street an ancient 
road. It was laid out by Samuel Capen and James Blake, the 
selectmen of Dorchester, in 1704, and is accurately described 
as the road about Little Blue Hill. It is thus described : 

" From three chestnut trees at the beginning, over Nathaniel Clap's 
land, which was Lot No i, over Thomas Tolman's land, which was lot 
No 2 [now the Hemenway farm], on the side of the hill above the 
old way, to a bound tree between Thomas Tolman and Timothy Cre- 
hores land, so along Crehores land on the side of the hill, and then 
along below the hill on the left, where there is a convenient way to 
the east of Isaac Royall's lot, part of the way ; and then go upon his 
land over a stony hill to a white oak tree, marked, and to a little fur- 
ther, and to go partly on Ephraim Newtons land and partly on Isaac 
Royalls, only by his house, not so much upon him as upon Newton, 
and when it comes near to the old way, more upon Royall than 

Another road laid out to the west of this is described — 

"to begin at Crehores land and go to the north corner of Henry 
Crane's land, and so to go the south east way going down the hill, 
then leaving the old way up the side, and then down into a valley 
and continue up another hill and so along further till it comes 
over Ponkapoag brook." 


There appears to have been a road which, going in by the 
house of Deacon Silas Crane, now owned by Mr. Hemenway, 
skirted the meadow, and passing the houses at one time occu- 
pied by Peter Lyon, Tomlin, and others, came out at the 
entrance of the present avenue now leading to the house of 
Colonel Wolcott, near where stood the house of Mrs. Topliff. 
It ran across Green Street at right angles, and came out on 
Wood's Lane. This road is still in existence, and can be 
driven over with difficulty. 

It is probable that this road led to the Sprague farm at 
Readville. Whether it was a public road, I am not informed. 
In 1729 a driftway was laid out from the Fowl meadows to 
the road by Mr. Thomas Vose's, and this is probably the 
way marked at the Readville terminus by a lane on the 
upland, and a long line of willows extending into the Blue 
Hill meadows. There is a bridge, called in 1719 Fisher's 
Bridge, which was probably built by Anthony Fisher, who 
was a tenant on Mrs. Stoughton's farm in the seventeenth 
century. Nathaniel Hubbard subsequently rebuilt this 
bridge; but it was not thrown open to the public until 1 759, 
when Dedham and Milton again rebuilt the bridge. It was 
known to persons now living, who remember it as Swan's 
Bridge. During the first century of our town life communi- 
cation with Dedham by teams was arduous. There were but 
two ways to reach Dedham by public road in the early days. 
One was to go through East Walpole, and cross the Neponset 
at the bridge, built in 1652, " near the Widow White's ; " that 
is, near the present site of Morrill's ink factory. This spot 
should be remembered, for it was here, in 1675, that the 
two companies of Captains Henchman and Prentice halted 
during the eclipse of the moon, when they were on the march 
to the Narragansett country against King Philip. The other 
road to Dedham crossed the Neponset at Paul's Bridge. In 
1729 a driftway was laid out from Captain Vose's to the Fowl 

In 1720 a bridle-path led to the river from near the resi- 
dence of the late Adam Mackintosh, called the " way to As- 
pinwairs,"at the end of which a ford existed in 1726, near 


the " Long Ridge," as it was called, not far from the iron 
bridge on the Boston and Providence Railroad. Later a 
ferry was established; and travellers who desired to cross 
were obliged to call the boatman. In 1730 the town voted 
to build a bridge " over y" long ridge; " and again in 1732 
substantially the same vote was passed, in order that those 
persons who resided in the town, on the northwest side of the 
Neponset, might be accommodated ; and until this bridge 
was completed, it was voted that the inhabitants on that side 
of the river should be free from ministerial charges. But 
the river was made the line; and no bridge was built at this, 
the narrowest point of the Fowl meadows between the towns 
of Stoughton and Dedham, until 1803, and the ferry con- 
tinued to be used within the memory of persons still living. 
The matter of building the road, now called the Dedham 
road, was agitated in 1792 ; and in 1796 an article was inserted 
in the warrant " to see if the town will take any measures rel- 
ative to laying out a road from this town to Dedham, near 
Henry Crane's." The town voted to do so, and the " Long 
Ridge " opposite Eaton's Shore was deemed admirably 
adapted to the purpose. 

Green Street ran in early days about as now, from Milton 
line to Coombs's. It was called in 1738 the road "from Mil- 
ton to the creek near Jonathan Kenney's." From near Ken- 
ney's there seem to have diverged three roads, — one turning 
to the right near Coombs's, and passing over the brook by a 
picturesque bridge, to which I shall refer later. The other 
two forked near the former residence of Captain Shaller ; the 
left-hand road passed through what is usually known as 
Tucker's Lane, and was the travelled road to Ponkapoag. 
There was also a cartway leading to Washington Street, 
which came out near Blackman's shop. The right-hand 
road led through Capt. William Shaller's farm, crossed the 
brook in the rear of his house by a wooden bridge, bore to 
the left, and crossing Pecunit Street, passed near the eastern 
gate of the cemetery, and went through the Catholic Ceme- 
tery. Here it appears to have been called, as it passed the 
house of the first minister, the Taunton Old Way. The 


road then led to the old house standing near the pond on 
Pleasant Street, in old times called Bussey's Corner. It here 
branched, one portion turning to the left, over Hartwell's 
Dam, and known as the Dorchester Swamp road, now Pleas- 
ant Street, until it reached a point near Profile Rock, when, 
bearing to the right, it crossed, in 1719, the farm of Edward 
Bailey, later owned by Franklin Reed, and entered Pine Street, 
where it continued by a circuitous route to Dorchester 
Swamp, or modern Stoughton. From Bussey's Corner a 
road led to the right, by the house of David Tilden, now 
known as Priest Howard's, and came out nearly opposite the 
brick house of the Endicotts, on Washington Street. This 
portion of the way was called, until 1727, the Taunton Old 
Way. In 1764 it was discontinued, and the land conveyed 
by the guardian of the Ponkapoag Indians to the abutters, 
John Billings, John Withington, Jr., and David Tilden. 

It was discontinued through Morse's homestead before 
1740, yet the same year John Billings bounds the southerly 
portion of his farm on a path formerly called the Taunton 
Old Way. 

Coming from Milton up Washington Street between the 
Little and Great Blue Hill, the first street on the left is Blue 
Hill Street. It was mentioned at a very early period, but it 
does not appear to have been laid out until Sept. 23, 1726. 
Its width was two rods, and it was described as " under the 
western side of" Blue Hill until it comes to Milton Line, and 
meets that way in Milton that lieth on the Southerly side of 
y= Great Blue Hill." At one time it was described as running 
" from Royall's Corner by Puffer's to Milton Line." Oppo- 
site, on the western side of Royall's Corner, a street was laid 
out, and was styled, in 1729, the road westerly from Capt. 
Isaac Royall's leading toward Silas Crane's. This is the 
road which came out near the old Topliff house. In 1763 it 
was described as leading by Silas Crane's, through Dr. John 
Sprague's and Isaac Royall's, by the house of said Royall to 
the country road. Another road led directly from Royall's 
Corner to the house formerly occupied by Elijah Hayward 
at the junction of Kitchamakin and Elm. streets. It can still 


be traced, a few rods southerly of Royall Street, and run- 
ning parallel thereto. 

In 1824 this road was surveyed, a plan was made by Joel 
Lewis, and it was called the " road leading from the Taunton 
road near John Davenport's to Gen. Nathan Crane's." It was 
widened to two rods, and 476 rods were taken from the 
abutters for this purpose. Edward Wood was residing in 
the Royall house between 1830 and 1840, and in the latter 
year this road was named by the town Wood's Lane. It 
was then described as running from John Davenport's to 
Ebenezer Crane's. In 188 1 its name was changed to Royall 

Proceeding on Washington Street southerly, we reach, at 
the top of the hill, at the northerly line of the Ponkapoag 
Plantation, a narrow lane, which leads directly west to nearly 
opposite the Capt. William Shaller house, on Green Lodge 
Street, on which stood at least one house. Continuing 
through Ponkapoag Village we pass, at the foot of^the hill. 
Green Lodge Street. This street was called Green Street 
from this point to the Milton line by the way of Shaller's 
and Eldridge's from 1840 to 188 1 ; but as the portion leading 
over the bridge to Green Lodge, in Dedham, had been joined 
to it in 1852, making a straight line, it was decided to call the 
entire street after Green Lodge, a place known by that name 
as early as 1719. The committee of 1840 describe it as run- 
ning from Strowbridge's to Milton by Michael Shaller's. 

When we go down Green Street from Ponkapoag, we follow 
the track the Indian trod when he went from his wigwam 
to the Neponset River to fish ; it was the Indian trail from 
Ponkapoag to the river. In 1727 the part nearest Ponkapoag 
was the " path that leadeth down to Elias Monk's house," 
which stood on the Shaller site. 

In 1764 the dwellers in this vicinity petitioned the select- 
men to lay out a road from the house of Jonathan Kenney, 
where Mr. Coombs now lives, to the country road near 
Thomas Crane's at Ponkapoag; but the town, deeming the 
price demanded for the land exorbitant, refused to accept or 
approve the way, whereupon the petitioners appealed to the 


Court of General Sessions. It is probable that the appeal 
was successful, as the road was laid out and accepted a few 
years later. 

In 1799 it was called, after the old Tory of Ponkapoag, 
Taylor's Lane, because the house he occupied was at its 
westerly termination: it is still standing, and known as "the 
old Tory house." 

Proceeding on the main road, we come to the old Ponka- 
poag Hotel. The road that runs directly south is the Turn- 
pike, and quite modern. Although from the engine-house 
to Farm Street it followed the old road leading to Bear 
Swamp, it was incorporated as the Stoughton Turnpike, 
June 23, 1806, and was laid out from John Tucker's, through 
Stoughton, to Easton. In June, 1840, it was laid out as a 
public highway, and in 1856 re-located; it runs almost in a 
straight line to Stoughton. The cellar of the old toll-house 
is still to be seen on the easterly side of this road, south of 
what is commonly known as Capen's mill. In 1881 this street 
received the name of Turnpike Street. 

Returning now to the Ponkapoag Hotel, we take the right- 
hand road, and crossing Ponkapoag Brook, see on the left a 
short street leading up a steep hill; it is called Sassamon 
Street. Should we turn up this street, we should find that it 
is now only a short cut to the Turnpike ; but formerly it was 
a portion of the road that led to the Old Colony line. This 
road, making a detour at the top of the hill to the right, di- 
vided near what is now Farm Street, the left-hand road going 
through to the farms, substantially following Farm Street, 
and then dividing opposite the house of Ellis Tucker. This 
left-hand road, leading in 1690 to Bear Swamp, is now known 
as the road to Randolph. In 1727 there was a petition pre- 
sented for a road from the country road to that part of the 
town called York. In 1734 it was designated as the "road 
from Ponkapogg Brook through Mr. Fenno's farm to Philip 
Liscom's ; " sometimes as the road from Nathaniel Sumner's 
(who lived near Ponkapoag Brook) to York; later it is de- 
scribed as " beginning at John Liscom's fence near Thomas 
Jordan's house, at a rock at y" ascent of -f hill near Ben- 


jamin Jordan's old cellar, over y" brook where y= bridge is 
now made, through Mr. Fenno's farm, between Deacon Joseph 
Topliff and Nathaniel Sumner, to the road." 

On the top of the hill near the house now occupied by 
Jefferson May, the road turned to the right, and passing 
through the land owned in 1760 by Paul Wentworth, crossed 
York Brook about a quarter of a mile north of where it does 
at present. There stood a saw-mill. The road then joined 
the Indian Lane at the top of the hill near the Bancroft cellar- 
hole. In 1772 it is laid out, " as by Aaron Blakes over 
York Saw Mill pond." This was a very ancient road, and 
continued on by York Pond to East Stoughton. It was 
known in 1664 as Pigwackett. 

The right-hand road is now called York Street. An an- 
cient map in the possession of Mr. Jesse Fenno, dated 1742, 
calls this street the "road to York; " it ran in 1840 " from 
Lemuel Tucker's to the Stoughton Line." 

Let us now return to the junction of the Turnpike and 
Farm Street, and take the Turnpike, and we shall have 
some difficulty in determining exactly the ancient road- 
ways. One appears to have followed substantially the route 
of the Turnpike for a short distance, and then to have led 
straight to Belcher's Corner. This ancient highway must 
have been the most direct way from Ponkapoag to Taun- 
ton. Mr. Jabez Talbot, who died in Stoughton in 1881, 
said that he could remember "when stages went over that 

The territory traversed by this road is unoccupied except 
by a few houses that stand close to the highway. One can 
wander for hours together over these forsaken acres without 
finding any trace of habitation. A roadway from the house 
of Mr. Horace Guild crosses the land ; and there is no spot 
in Canton more delightful to visit on a pleasant day. The 
road is rough, to be sure, as it is only used for the purpose 
of carting wood, but these wood-roads furnish cool and shady 
drives or walks ; and diverging from them are smaller paths, 
where one treads on moss of the finest verdure, or sits on 
banks covered with ferns and flowers. Along these secluded 


paths the botanist can, in their season, find rare plants, which 
will well repay him for a visit to the place. Hills and valleys 
break the monotony of the landscape, and at intervals one 
obtains fine views of the surrounding country. A thick 
growth of wood covers a large portion of the land, and the 
remainder consists of fields which have long since ceased to 
be cultivated. Here was the clay-pit, from which the farm- 
ers carted clay; and the rocks along the roadway are worn 
by the heavy iron straps that covered the wheels of their 
primitive wagons. Here, also, was an Indian burial-ground. 
The location is ascertainable, but there is no visible sign of 
mounds. A thick growth of wood covers the ground, and 
vigorous digging for the relics of the lost tribe in several 
places was useless. The whole territory is divided by loose 
and dilapidated stone walls, which serve to point out its 
ancient boundaries. The large farms have in later years 
been converted into wood-lots, owned by persons whose 
only interest in them is the value of the growing wood. 
But to those who love to re<fall the history of the early days 
when our little town was first settled, this deserted land has 
an interest far deeper than that which pertains to its com- 
mercial value. As we wander over its broad acres, or plod 
through its dark groves of pine, we discover cellar-holes 
half filled with rubbish and the remains of orchards, long 
since past bearing. 

Who were the people that once lived here? Where are 
the houses, the cellars of which alone are left to testify to 
their former occupancy? Who gathered the apples from 
these broken rows of apple-trees? It is sad to know that the 
men who selected and purchased these farms have left no 
descendants living upon the land which, by a hand-to-hand 
fight with Nature, they redeemed. Some of their descend- 
ants may have occupied their ancestral houses for a few 
years. Now all are gone, the houses have been destroyed, 
and the land is desolate. 

Again we return to Ponkapoag, and turning toward Canton 
Corner, cross Aunt Katy's Brook, where the road was widened 
in 1824, and pass the Blackman blacksmith's shop, where 


one of the branches of the road through Captain Tucker's 
Lane came out. Farther on we pass Ridge Hill, and on our 
right is Pecunit Street. Halfway up the Meeting-House Hill 
we cross the Taunton Old Way, and are now at the beginning 
of Pleasant Street. This street, from Washington Street to 
Reservoir Pond, was not laid out until 1723; it is described 
as running " from the northerly end of the dam still standing 
on Pequit brook, then called Hartwell's dam, on the east side 
of the old fence that stood between the land of John Went- 
worth and Jabez Searle," thence to Washington Street. This 
road connected at what in 1760 was known as Bussey's Cor- 
ner with the road to Dorchester Swamp. From this point in 
very early days a cart-path, marked by blazed trees, mean- 
dered alternately on both sides of this present street. It 
was used to bring timber and shingles from the swamps in 
Stoughton to the landing-place at Milton. It appears on 
Butcher's map, dated 1698, but may have been drawn in 
later. This is undoubtedly the road described by Judge 
Sewall in his diary, when under date of Sept. 24, 1709, he 
writes that he leaves " Morey's at Ponkapog and goes over 
the new road," and rides over fourteen miles without see- 
ing a house. This early way, I believe, led to Stoughton 
through Pine Street, and was known in 1 730 as the way to 
Nathaniel Stearns's. 

In 1733 it is described as leading from the Dorchester 
Swamp road near Edward Bailey's barn to John Withington's 
mill-dam, now French and Ward's. 

In 1719-20, a road was laid out from the "road leading 
to Billings' [Washington Street], to Stoughton," and was 
called the " road to Dorchester Swamp." The route of 
this road appears to have followed in Canton the old road, 
and to have run about as Pleasant Street now does to Stough- 
ton line. 

In 1745 it was laid out by the selectmen of Stoughton, 
then passing through a small corner of Edward Bailey's 
land; it is described as early as 1740 as the "road from 
May's Corner." 1 

• See Appendix IX. 


In 1798 it was the road leading to Withington's Corner. 
From its tortuous and irregular windings, and shabby, deso- 
late houses, it acquired, a century ago, the nickname of 
Ragged Row. The map of 1830 calls it the "Stoughton 

Let us now return to the old road, which crosses Ponka- 
poag Brook back of the house of Mr. Coombs, by a pictu- 
resque stone bridge. This road was an ancient one, but was 
not laid out by the selectmen until 1738, and was described 
as running " from y" brook near Jonathan Kenney's to Wil- 
liam Billings', and for the use and benefit of the proprietors 
of the Twelve Division Lots." In 1745 it is described as 
" passing through land of Jonathan Kenny, where there 
was a gate, then by his house, through the lands of John 
Holbrook, Elihu Crane, and Joseph Aspinwall, then by y' 
frog pond, then upon land of Thomas Spur, Preserved Lyon, 
Henry Crane, until it comes to Pecunit brook, thence through 
Dunbar's land by Stephen Billings fence, as the way is now 
improved, till it comes to a big rock on the hill in William 
Billings land." The road at this point divided, one portion 
going through William Billings's land, across the Wheeler 
farm, through what is now George F. Sumner's estate, crossed 
Chapman Street, and then going through Endicott's land 
turned and went through Wattles's Grove straight across the 
railroad not far from the present bridge, and so to "y° old 
forge," or in later days Everton's mill, now the Stone Factory 

The old portion of this road, which went from the ancient 
stone bridge to Henry Bailey's, was discontinued in 1 798 ; 
and it would appear that Gen. Nathan Crane laid claim to 
the ancient road on account of labor performed on the new. 
The town did not convey the disused road, but allowed him to 
erect t^vo gates upon it, — one in the middle of a brook, so that 
there may be water on each side. Bailey also erected a gate 
upon it, near his house. In 1799 the Packeen road is described 
as the new way between Capt. George Jordan's and Colonel 

The portion of this road which was divided near the hill 



by Captain Billings came out at Canton Corner through 
Wheeler's Lane, following what is now called the Dedham 
road. In 1728 it was described, and two years later laid out, 
as the road from Capt. John Vose's by William Billings's 
to Richard Bailey's. In 1760 the town was asked to con- 
firm a road by John Wentworth, Jr.'s Corner, where James 
T. Sumner lately resided, to Capt. John Billings's, by Wil- 
liam Wheeler's, to or near the country road at the Milton 

This road also forked after crossing Pecunit Street, a few 
rods north of the Packeen road. One branch divided near the 
old Spurr homestead, crossed Pecunit Brook a little farther 
to the northward than the Packeen road, and skirting Pecu- 
nit meadows, came out through the land now owned by the 
heirs of Samuel Capen, about opposite the old Town-House. 
The old house now standing at Canton Corner, owned by 
Abel Everett's heirs, once stood on this road, and the cellar- 
hole on the borders of the meadow can still be seen. 

It is related that this house was built by John Wentworth, 
Jr., for his daughter Mercy, who married Lemuel Stodder, 
so that she should not be too near him. Her husband died 
June 24, 1789, aged ninety-five. After his death she bought 
in 1791 an acre of land of Dr. Crosman, and moved the house 
to where it now stands. A part of the old Wheeler house 
was added ; and a shop of one Gill was removed from Pleas- 
ant Street and attached to the other side. 

The right-hand road from the Spurr homestead crossed 
Pecunit Brook and joined the road leadmg to William Bil- 
lings's from Henry Bailey's and Enos Crane's homesteads. 

Two ancient roads now discontinued have given place to 
the present Pecunit Street. In 1799 it was known as the 
road by Benjamin Lewis's ; in 18 14 as the road from Henry 
Bailey's to Jabez Cobb's. 

Another road in 1768, probably forming a part of what is 
now Pecunit Street, left the homestead of Thomas Spurr, 
turned toward the east through land of Elijah Spurr and 
Zebediah Wentworth, and came out nearly halfway up " y 
south side of Ridge Hill." 


The road now known as Chapman Street, running from 
Robert Draper's brick mill to the Revere schoolhouse, was 
formerly called " y' way to y" old Forge." It was laid out in 
1729 "from the parting of the ways westward of Mr. John 
Vose's, leading by Mr. Goodwin's, and so along to y" south- 
west side of y" river by y' old forge." In 1733 the way be- 
tween the land of Rev. Samuel Dunbar and Dr. Pope was 
turned, and was known as Dunbar's Lane. In 1773 an article 
was inserted in the town warrant to see if the town would 
open a highway from Capt. John Billings's Corner to Everen- 
don's Bridge, two and one half rods wide. In 1812 it was 
probably laid out as it now is, and was called the road from 
" Wheatley's Factory to Stone's Corner." 

The lane, now called Spring Lane, which leads to the 
Dunbar farm, was laid out in 1791, and was called Fisher's 

The way leading from the Stone Factory Village to Wash- 
ington Street under the viaduct was called in 1786 Billings's 
Lane, after William Billings, 2d ; in 1790 " y° road from y° 
schoolhouse on Taunton road to y" old forge." In 1824 it 
was surveyed and widened. 

The road now known as Randolph Street, from the corner 
to Farm Street, may have been laid out in answer to a peti- 
tion from the inhabitants in York in 1727. It appears as 
Fenno's road in 1754. Ten years later it runs from " Fenno's 
causeway to the country road near y' old School House," 
and mention is then made of its following " y' old trodden 

To the left of Washington Street just south of the Crane 
schoolhouse, is a street now known as Bolivar. It took its 
name from the Bolivar Works, which stood on the spot now 
occupied by the shovel-works. These, in turn, took their 
name from Bolivar, President of Colombia. It was not 
opened to the public until 1792, when it was laid out to 
"Mashapog" Brook and a bridge built; thence it ran to 
what was called " y° old nursery," over Crane's Dam to Bea- 
ver Brook, until it came to a lane which led from Pine 
Street to Eliakim Pitcher's house. In 1827 the road was 


surveyed and widened from Messinger's factory to Bailey 

Walpole Street was in 1733 the road leading from " y'' 
bridge by y' old forge," through land of Timothy Jones, 
Joseph Hartwell, Jonathan Jordan, to Samuel Comings ; and 
the same year Hartwell and Jones desire liberty " to hang 
gates for passengers to open and shut as they pass on said 
way, for their recompense for damages they sustained by 
laying dut said way." It is probable that the town did not 
grant this request, for the following year Timothy Jones sued 
the town for laying a way through his land, and recovered 
damages. In 1742 it was a portion of the road laid out from 
" y° country road near y" Roebuck Tavern to y° forge of 
Ebenezer Jones & Co." In 1756 Joseph Hartwell was allowed 
to put up two gates across the road leading from Everendon's 
mill. In 1840 it was designated as "the road leading from 
the Stone Factory by Thomas KoUick's to the Sharon line." 
From this road, before reaching the Walpole line, there is on 
the map of 1831 a well-defined outline of a road over Major's 
Island, laid out in 1798. It is described as running from the 
land of William Fisher in Pigeon Swamp to Rhod's Island in 
said swamp, thence to Squire Sumner's upland. 

In old times a bridle-way led from Washington Street 
across the Massapoag Brook to Frog Island. It was laid out 
by the selectmen in 1768, from the house of John Pierce, 
which stood near the former residence of Arthur C. KoUock, 
and passing through the low land or clay meadow near Mr. 
Enos's, which he had purchased from Preserved Tucker in 
1 73 1, crossed the land of Benjamin Smith, and came to the 
road now known as Pine Street, near the house of Ephraim 

There were a number of bridges across the Neponset, prin- 
cipally private, for the transporting of hay. The town was 
asked to repair Woodward's Bridge, which crossed the Ne- 
ponset in the common field meadows, " in order that our 
Dedham neighbors might get their hay with less inconven- 
ience." It is needless to record the answer to such a. petition. 
Above this bridge was Fisher's, or Little Island Bridge, while 



below at the time of our incorporation were bridges bearing 
the names of Thayer, Holmes, Horse-shoe, and Swan. In 
later days Thorp's Bridge is mentioned. 

In 1744 the bridges at Deacon Joseph Tucker's saw-mill at 
" y" old forge " were rebuilt. 




IN May, 171 9, it was voted by the town of Dorchester that 
;^20 be added to the town rate for the keeping of a 
" Writing and reading school in the South Precinct, and the 
care of the school to be under the direction of the present 

In 1724 a committee was appointed by Dorchester and 
fully empowered to quit the town's right of purchase, and all 
their interest in the six thousand acres of land at Ponkapoag, 
to such of the inhabitants as they can agree with, one half 
the money to be given for the support of the school in the 
South Precinct. On the i6th of March Dorchester voted 
£2^, to be paid out of the town's treasury, toward the keep- 
ing of a school in the South Precinct for the year ensuing, 
the place of keeping the school and the school-master to be 
determined upon by the selectmen. 

In 1726 the dwellers in Ponkapoag had a reading and writ- 
ing school; and the town of Dorchester granted them ;£'20 
to assist them in keeping it. The children numbered about 
forty, and for want of a schoolhouse assembled at the house 
of Robert Redman. In 1760 the first schoolhouse at Pon- 
kapoag of which we have any knowledge was built. , The 
inhabitants hired a master upon their own responsibility, 
trusting to the precinct to allow them their share of the 
school money, which was done. This building was removed 
in 1799 to the Milton line, and converted to other purposes. 
On October 12 of the same year a new house was raised. 
This is still standing, but is now used as a dwelling-house, 
next north of the present schoolhouse. 


In 1726 Isaac Royall, Nathaniel Hubbard, and William 
Crane were appointed by the town of Stoughton, soon after 
its incorporation, to ascertain what part of the income of the 
school farms lying within its limits, belonged to the town. 
The following year it was voted to raise £^0 for the use of 
the schools. * 

In 1728 an article was inserted in the town warrant, "To 
consider and act upon the place or places where the town will 
have the school kept; " and in 1730, where said house shall 
be built; but nothing was done, and the school was "removed 
from place to place as formerly," until 1734, March 28, it was 
voted to build one schoolhouse, and that a tax of ;£'20 be laid 
out in erecting it This schoolhouse was built on land owned 
by the town near the meeting-house. An article was subse- 
quently inserted in the warrant to reconsider the vote, but it 
was unsuccessful. The building was erected under the charge 
of a committee consisting of Ensign Charles Wentworth, 
Lieut. William Billings, and Preserved Lyon, and completed 
in 1735. It was situated so near the meeting-house that in 
1749 it was deemed expedient by the inhabitants to remove 
it " to prevent y° meeting house in y" first precinct being in- 
dangered by fire or otherwise ; " and the precinct voted to 
remove the schoolhouse and provide land to set it on. This 
removal was from near the meeting-house, then standing, 
to what is now the Catholic Cemetery. 

' In 1765 this house was called " y" old School House," and 
five years later was deemed unfit for service, and sold. In 
1 77 1 a new building was erected on the land near the en- 
trance to the Catholic Cemetery, on the westerly side of Ran- 
dolph road, at or near the place where the old schoolhouse 
stood. It was a small red building. It is on the map of 
1785, then called the grammar school; and Mr. Samuel 
Chandler, who attended it, said it was in his day the only 
school in town where grammar was taught. This building 
lasted until 1809, when there was raised, at the junction of 
the streets directly in the rear of the Eliot trough, the frame 
of the hip-roof building, where some of us made our first at- 
tempts to mount " the hill of science." The architect of this 


building was Samuel Carroll; but the work was done by 
Thomas Crane, the third of that name. This house in its 
turn, remodelled and removed a few rods farther south, an- 
swered its purpose until it was sold to James Draper and 
George Frederic Sumner, and moved to their factory, on 
the Deacon Everett homestead, Aug. 20, 1867. 

In place of this schoolhouse was erected a two-story build- 
ing, 30 by 14 feet, with a projection 20 by 14. The building 
was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies in June, 1867. 
This school has received from the committee the name of 
Eliot. On Jan. 5, 1882, the town voted to remove this build- 
ing to a location near the hall of the First Congregational 

In 1734 William Royall, then fresh from Harvard College, 
presented a petition to the General Court, in behalf of the 
town, that some of the province lands might be granted for 
the support and maintenance of the school. 

On Sept. 29, 1 740, it was voted that £60 be allowed for the 
school. The school was called a moving school, because it 
was kept first in one part of the town, then in another. This 
year the school was kept in York for the first time, and the 
next year at Curtis Corner, now East Stoughton. The di- 
vision of the town into precincts required some change in the 
division of the school money; and it was decided, in 1744, 
that each precinct should receive such proportion as it pays 
to the province in taxes. The following year the town was 
asked to build a schoolhouse for each of the second and 
third precincts, but decided not to do so. 

In 1747 the division of the school lands in which Dor- 
chester and Stoughton were interested, the farm commonly 
called Waldo's farm, situated near Bridgewater, was appor- 
tioned, Stoughton receiving ninety acres on the southerly end 
of the farm, being forty-four one hundredth and fifteenths of 
the whole. The reservation was made that in case iron ore 
was discovered in any part of the whole farm, it should be 
applied for the use of the schools in both the towns. The 
committee on the part of Stoughton consisted of William 
Royall, Benjamin Johnson, Silas Crane, and Simeon Stearns. 


The ninety acres of land which had become Stoughton's 
share of the Waldo farm was wild and unimproved, and fre- 
quently trespassed upon ; no income had been received from 
it, and the town had been at some expense on account of it. 
A committee, consisting of Joseph Hewins, Elkanah Billings, 
and Theophilus Curtis, was appointed in 1761 to petition the 
General Court for leave to sell it for the most it would bring, 
the money to be for the use of the schools in Stoughton for- 
ever, and not to be converted to any other use. The petition 
was granted, and the proceeds of the sale were £34$. 

In 1755 ;^40 was appropriated for the use of the school, 
and it was decided to establish a school where grammar 
should be taught. This school was soon in operation at 
Canton Corner under the charge of William Royall, and 
was continued for some years, but subsequently became a 
"moving" grammar school. 

In 1758 the town voted that £^0 be appropriated for the 
schools, and the selectmen divided the money as follows : to 
the first precinct, ;£^20 i6s. 6d.; to the second, £iy 4s. Sd.; 
to the third, j^ii i8s. lod. 

In 1759 the town refused to build a schoolhouse in the 
third precinct, but allowed the inhabitants of that precinct 
what they had paid toward building the schoolhouse in the 
first precinct, to enable them to build one themselves. 

On April 24, 1761, a petition was presented to the town at 
May meeting to divide the school money so that the follow- 
ing " parts " shall receive their proportion ; namely, first, all 
on the north side of "Poncapog" brook; second, all on the 
east side of Fenno's causeway to the precinct line of the third 
precinct ; third, the part beginning at Lieut. William Billings 
" y= 2d," from thence to Mr. Nathaniel Leonard's, and all on 
the westerly side of " Mashapog " brook to the precinct lines. 

In 1 761 the town was presented before the court of General 
Sessions for not maintaining a grammar school for two years. 
It was fined £40, and borrowed the money of Seth Puffer. 
The town was again indicted in 1784 for not keeping a school. 
The grammar school was kept by Elijah Dunbar. He began 
to teach in Canton in 1760, and taught with greater or less 


regularity until the close of the century. In 1766 he began, 
on the 25th of November, at Ingraham's Corner, and con- 
tinued until Jan. 3, 1767, boarding at Seth Pierce's. On Jan- 
uary 5 the school was begun at York, where Mr. Dunbar 
taught four weeks, boarding at Samuel Tucker's. On Febru- 
ary 4 he went to Curtis's Corner, now East Stoughton, and 
taught four weeks. March 9 he taught the Corner school, 
and continued fourteen weeks. He then went to Ponkapoag, 
and taught th? Blue Hill Branch, beginning on July 6, six 
weeks. September 7 he went to Stoughton Village, and 
taught until Jan. 4, 1768, boarding at Mr. Capen's ; then at 
Dry Pond three weeks, where he boarded with Mr. Aaron 
Gay. He seems to have boarded at one place in all the 
districts except when at Ponkapoag. Here the custom of 
" boarding round " prevailed ; and the manner in which he 
was disposed of in the month of August has been preserved : 

"August I. Dine at Col Doty's; sup and lodge there. 3. Board 
at Kenney's. 4. Dine at David Lyons. 5. Dine at Mr. Crane's. 
7. Lodge at Sam Davenports. 8. Dine at John Davenports. 
10. Lodge at Col Doty's with Daniel Leonard. 12. Drink tea at 
Mr. Stone's. 15. Dine at Ben Bussey's. 24. Fine fiddling at Mr. 
Crane's. 25. Dine at Mr. Spares. 26. Dine at Robert Redmans. 
27. Dine at Jo Billings' j lodge at Mr. Davenports. 28. Dine at 
Col Doty's ; tea at Mr. Redmans ; singing. 29. Finish school at 
Blue Hills. 31. Singing meeting at George Blackmans." 

In 1767 the report of the committee appointed to consult 
and find out proper places for two schoolhouses in the first, 
and one in the second precinct, was not accepted by the 
town. But the following year the town thought better of it, 
and granted money to the Canton Centre Branch to erect a 
schoolhouse, and also voted to appropriate ;^20 of the school 
money to build a schoolhouse in the second precinct. Jona- 
than Capen gave the land for the building, which stood on 
the corner near the residence of James Atherton, in Stough- 
ton. In 179s the building was purchased by Samuel Osgood 
for £\0 \Os. He placed it as an addition to his house, and 
it so remains at this writing, being the property of Thomas 
Swan and others. 


In 1772 the inhabitants Hving south of the present Sherman 
schoolhouse to the precinct Hne desired to have their money 
for school purposes separate. They were Joseph Esty, Elea- 
zar May, Jr., Theodore May, Mather Withington, Bailey 
Withington, Abijah Upham, Samuel Morse, Eliakim Pitcher, 
John Clark, Reuben Hayward, Rufus Hayward, Ephraim 
Smith, Moses and Aaron Wentworth. In 1778 there were 
sixty children between the Stoughton line and the poor-farm. 
In 1796 the first schoolhouse was erected in what was at 
first the Ragged Row Branch, afterward District No. 5. The 
present building was erected in 1853, and has been named, in 
honor of its location near the early home of Roger Sherman, 
the Sherman School. 

In 1760 the inhabitants on the southeasterly side of Fenno's 
Causeway, including the Farms, York, and Indian Lane, were 
allowed what they had paid of the sum that was raised in the 
precinct for the use of schools. Their schoolhouse was used 
until 1797. It was in this schoolhouse that John Sherman 
taught in 1794 and 1795. He was the son of Roger, and is 
said to have been a captain in the Revolutionary War. He 
married Nancy, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Dana) Tucker, 
of Milton, and died Aug. 7, 1802. She was born Sept. 22, 
1762, and died Dec 7, 1858, aged ninety-seven years. She 
resided for many years on the corner of Washington and Sas- 
samon streets. She was in receipt of a pension for her hus- 
band's services in the war. Both are buried in the Canton 

The town voted to join with Dorchester in selling the 
school land in Wrentham; and on July 4, I77r, the General 
Court empowered the town of Stoughton to sell the eight 
hundred acres of land which had been laid out and appropri- 
ated in 1657, the money to be applied for the benefit of free 
schools in Dorchester, Stoughton, and Stoughtonham. On 
the 5th of November, 1772, the land was sold to Dr. Timo- 
thy Stevens for the sum of ;^284 13J. 4^., Dorchester receiv- 
ing ;£^I7S 15^-, and Stoughton ;^io8 iSs. 4d.; the bond for 
the latter sum was deposited in the hands of the town treas- 
urer by the committee, — Benjamin Gill, Elijah Dunbar, and 


Thomas Crane. In one week Stevens sold five sixths of it 
for more than three times the amount paid for the whole. 

When White's farm was sold in 1791, and the sum of 
;£'i332 gs. lod. was received, of which £l'ji 8j. yd. belonged 
to our town, it would appear that this money was diverted 
from the original educational purposes for which it was de- 
signed, as the following vote of the town shows : — 

" In y° present embarrassed situation of y° town, it is judged ex- 
pedient for y° town to make use of y" school money to pay their 
debts, on interest ; but at the same time it is hereby declared that -f 
town will by no means alienate y" fund, but will again raise and re- 
fund y'= money, which shall be applied to y"' "se of y° schools, agree- 
able to y° design of y° donor." 

In 1790 the modern "school committee" was foreshadowed 
when this year the town appointed Hon. Elijah Dunbar, Peter 
Adams, Esq., Mr. Joseph Bemis, George Crosman, Esq., and 
Capt. Samuel Talbot, a committee to join with the selectmen 
and ministers in visiting the schools. 

In 1794 a committee of sixteen was chosen to confer on 
some method for the more equal distribution of learning ; and 
shortly afterward sixteen more gentlemen were added to the 
committee, and their report was ordered to be posted up in 
public places in order that the inhabitants of the town might 
all read and understand it. £\\0 was voted this year for 
schools; and a committee of three in each branch was 
chosen to consult as to the manner of building school- 
houses, in order that they might all be built on a similar 
plan. The following were the branches, or districts, which 
were recommended by the committee on schooling: in the 
First Parish, six branches ; namely : — 

" Blue Hill to remain as usual, /. e. all north-east of Ponkapoag 
Brook; York, to take all above the causeway by D. Tucker's, and 
to include Philip Whiting, Amariah Oliver, and Seth Wentworth. Up- 
ham's, to take from John Morse's to Esq. Crosman's brook, all to y' 
Southard ; Bailey's, to take in all West of Ponkapoag Brook, Israel 
Bailey, Nathaniel Shepard, and John Taunt to be y' southerly bounds ; 
Centre, to take all north of Pequit Brook and to Ponkapoag Brook, and 
then to extend to y" bounds of y" other branches." 


The following gentlemen were chosen a committee of the 
several branches : — 

Centre, First Parish, Elijah Dunbar, Esq., Nathaniel Fisher, 
Capt. Wm. Bent; Blue Hill, Col. Nathan Crane, Redman 
Spurr, Capt. Abner Crane; Ingraham's, Elijah Crane, -Jacob 
Shepard, James Endicott, Esq. ; Upham's, Col. B. Gill, Lieut. 
Sam. Capen, Capt. Nathan Gill; Bailey's, Henry Bailey, 
Lieut. Edw. Downes, Capt. George Jordan; York, Deacon 
Benj. Tucker, Capt. John Tucker, Lieut. Elisha Hawes. 

In 1797, the districts were designated as follows: — 

No. I, Centre Branch; No. 2, Blue Hill Branch; No. 3, 
Ingraham's Branch; No. 4, York Branch; No. 5, Ragged 
Row Branch; No. 6, Bailey's Branch. In 18 14 the names 
remained the same except that Ingraham's was changed to 
Kinsley's. Soon after the districts were numbered. 

The residents at Packeen petitioned in 1774 for a separate 
school; and in 1783 those composing the neighborhood again 
desired to be set off. They consisted of the families of the 
following persons: Henry Crane, Richard Bailey, Preserved 
Lyon, Joseph, Joseph, Jr., and John Aspinwall, Roger and 
Isaac Billings, Israel Bailey, William Crane, 2d, Joseph 
Thompson, John and Levi Taunt, Mary Spurr, and Ezekiel 

This school, known as Bailey's Branch, or No. 6, but com- 
monly called the Packeen School, was situated in Pecunit 
valley, almost upon the margin of Pecunit Brook, in that 
part of Canton now called Packeen. The school was in 
operation about 1796, and continued till 1832. The children 
were then distributed between Canton Centre and Ponkapoag. 
The original building is said to have been disposed of by the 
prudential committee for two pairs of boots. It was built by 
Henry Withington in 1806; and about 1838 it was moved to 
the Centre, and was for many years a woodshed attached to 
the house of the late James Draper. 

The distinguished mathematician, Warren Colburn, who 
was born March i, 1793, and died at Lowell, Sept. 13, 1833, 
taught school in Canton in 181 8. He had previously learned 
to weave of Captain Williams, a Norwegian, who lived here 


in i8ii. Colburn was taxed here in 1812. He married one 
of his pupils, Miss Temperance C. Horton. 

In 1822 the town chose the following committee to go 
with the ministers and selectmen of the town to examine the 
several schools according to law: Thomas Tolman, Thomas 
French, Adam Kinsley, Charles Tucker, Ezra Dickerman, and 
Abel Farrington; in 1823 Thomas French, Joseph Downes, 
Elijah Endicott, Simeon Tucker, Samuel Chandler, and Sam- 
uel Taunt ; in 1 824 Thomas Tolman, Joel Lewis, EHsha Crane, 
Jeremiah Tucker, Samuel Chandler, and Samuel Taunt. 

Two years after, May i, 1826, it was voted that the school 
committee consist of a chairman, who should be chosen at 
large, and six others, one from each school district; and 
Deacon Ezra Tilden, Thomas French, Simeon Tucker, Zach- 
ariah Tucker, John Gay, and Samuel Taunt, were chosen, with 
Rev. Benjamin Huntoon as chairman. Six hundred dollars 
was raised for schools, and fifty dollars for the purchase of 
books. This year it was voted to discontinue grammar 
schools for instruction in the Latin and Greek languages. 

In 1826 a law was passed obliging towns to choose a 
school committee ; and the following year a statute allowing 
the districts to elect prudential committees, with power to 
contract with teachers, took the matter of selection out of the 
hands of the town committee, leaving it a veto-power rarely 

Nov. 20, 1826, a new district was established; and in 1827 
a schoolhouse was erected at a cost of six hundred dollars, 
in that part of the town which has been designated as the 
Stone Factory and No. 6. It was intended to place the 
schoolhouse on the lot where the chapel stands ; but the 
Manufacturing Company offered to give the land at the 
junction of Neponset and Chapman streets. An addition 
was made to the original house on the southerly side, and 
in time a second story added. 

The school kept at the corner of Chapman and Neponset 
streets is now called the Revere School, in honor of Paul Re- 
vere, who resided in this town from 1801 to 1818. The origi- 
nal building, though many times transformed, still remains. 

• SCHOOLS. 143 

In 1830 books were delivered free to the children of parents 
unable to pay for them. In 1835 Thomas French and Thomas 
Tolman, in 1836 Rev. Erastus Dickerman, and in 1837 Asaph 
Merriam visited the schools. Henry D. Thoreau taught 
school in Canton during his college vacation in 1835, but 
with poor success. The same year Mr. William F. Temple 
drafted a plan for a new division of the town into school 

In 1839 the whole number of scholars was, in summer, 386; 
in winter, 454. There were many absentees, and the com- 
mittee deeply regretted the fact "that moral and religious 
instruction has been almost entirely neglected, seemingly by 
common consent." Asaph Merriam and Ezra Abbot, M. D., 
were school committee this year. Mr. Ezekiel Capen taught 
a school for the instruction of youth in Greek and Latin in the 
old Town-House. He was born in Sharon, January, 18 18, 
and died at Canton, April 5, 1872. He fitted for college at 
Milton Academy, but never finished his course at Brown Uni- 
versity. From 1849 to the day of his death, with the excep- 
tion of three years, he was a member of the school board. 
Upon the occasion of his death the school committee passed 
resolutions expressing " feelings of gratitude for his character 
and worth as a citizen, an educator, and a man;" and the mem- 
bers of the religious denomination of which he was a zealous 
member have placed a mural tablet in the Baptist meeting- 
house, where it appears he was " for many years its wisest 
counsellor and most liberal benefactor." 

In 1840 the committee reported the condition of the schools 
as " truly deplorable." The schoolhouse in Ponkapoag was 
" a disgrace to any civilized community," sixty or seventy chil- 
dren being crowded into a little, low, dirty room that could 
not supply good air or accommodation to half that number. 
The seats in the schoolhouse at Canton Centre, especially for 
the little ones, " could not be made more uncomfortable or 
more injurious to the health of those who occupy them." The 
committee consisted of Rev. W. H. Knapp and Levi Little- 
field. Twelve hundred dollars was appropriated for the sup- 
port of schools. The number of schools was seven, designated 


as follows : Centre, Blue Hill, Forge, York, Chandler, Factory, 
and Hardware. 

In 1 841 the committee congratulated themselves that obsta- 
cles of which former committees had complained — inconven- 
ient schoolhouses, a multiplicity and variety of textbooks, 
absence and tardiness of pupils, deficiency in the qualifi- 
cations of teachers, lack of interest of parents — were less 
than in former years. The first printed school report ap- 
peared in 1841-42, Charles O. Kimball and Levi Littlefield, 

In 1842 the committee reported that Canton stood ninety- 
fifth in the list of 307 towns which had made liberal appro- 
priations for the support of common schools in the State. " It 
is said by those who are competent to judge, that our schools 
were never in a better state. . . . The locality of our town, 
its proximity to the city, the abundant and easy modes of con- 
veyance by means of the railroad, and various other advan- 
tages render it, in the opinion of the committee, peculiarly 
desirable that our means of literary and moral improvement 
should be multiplied to the extent of their capabilities." 
Charles O. Kimball and Thomas French were the superin- 
tending committee. 

In 1843 Ellis Ames and James Dunbar were school com- 
mittee. Mr. Ames appeared to be fastidious in regard to 
reading, as in his report he wrote of the reading as " bad." 
Mr. Ames had taught school at Ponkapoag in 1827. The 
money appropriated was fourteen hundred dollars. 

The committee of 1843 were satisfied that the schools had 
been respectable. The reading, however, " was so indistinct 
and devoid of energy, emphasis, or animation " that the com- 
mittee could not keep the thread of the story; in some 
schools the reading was " bad beyond description." 

In 1844 the committee determined that the literary and 
moral qualifications of teachers should be such as the law 
required. They therefore organized themselves into a Board 
of Examination. They recommended that more money be 
raised by the town, the raising of money by districts having 
been attended with much perplexity and expense of time in 


soliciting and collecting subscriptions; also the committee 
believed that the system worked unequally, throwing the 
burden upon a few individuals, and did not insure a general 
attendance of the children of the districts. The committee 
were Benjamin Huntoon, Abraham Norwood, and Leonard 

In 1847 Canton stood number seventy-one in the State av- 
erage of schools, and fourteen, among the twenty-one towns 
of Norfolk County. The committee were Benjamin Hun- 
toon, William B. Hammond, and Timothy C. Tingley, all 

In 1854 the present schoolhouse, which accommodates 
the children living between the village of Canton and the 
Sharon line, was erected. The Hardware, as this portion 
of the town is sometimes called, had been a part of District 
No. 3, but in 1835 it was set off as a separate district by it- 
self, and a new schoolhouse was erected, and designated as 
No. 7. Oct. 2, 1854, in view of the fact that Gen. Richard 
Gridley had lived, died, and been buried in the vicinity, the 
name Gridley School was placed on the front of the building. 

We cannot fix the date of the erection of the first school- 
house in what is now South Canton. It stood opposite the 
entrance to Walnut Street, and was 13 by 13 feet. It was in 
good condition in 1766, when Elijah Dunbar taught in it. It 
was superseded by a new one in 1796, which was situated 
near the corner of Washington and Neponset streets. It was 
commonly known as Ingraham's Branch, from the fact that 
it was situated near the house of Jeremiah Ingraham. In 
1826 it had outgrown its usefulness, and was removed to the 
site of the Universalist meeting-house, converted into a tene- 
ment-house, and subsequently burned. The stone house at 
Ingraham's Corner, now- occupied by Fuller Brothers as a 
store, was erected in 1827, and until purchased by the Ne- 
ponset Bank Corporation, in 1836, was used as a schoolhouse. 
It was built of stone at the sohcitation of General Crane, who 
agreed to pay the difference between the cost of a wooden 
and a stone house. The district then erected, about 1837, ^ 
one-stoiy building on the site of Peter Crane's house, the lat- 


ter having been removed to the Revere Copper Yard. This 
schoolhouse was raised, in 1846, from one story to two 
stories, and was used as a repository for the equipments 
of the militia after the destruction of the old Armory. 

The present school building in District No. 3 was dedicated 
April 18, 1854. This house, when built, was declared to be 
a building "which in beauty of architecture, completeness 
of design and adaptation, is unequalled." The land on which 
it stands had been owned and occupied by Major-Gen. Elijah 
Crane; for which reason the committee named the school 
very appropriately the Crane School. 

In 1856 the committee decided to appoint a superinten- 
dent of schools. Mr. Samuel Bradley Noyes, who had for 
twelve years been a teacher or committee-man, was the first 
superintendent; he served in that office during the years 
1861-63, 1868-70. J. Mason Everett succeeded Mr. Noyes 
as superintendent in 1859; Ezekiel Capen succeeded Mr. 
Noyes in 1864. In 1866 and 1867 Daniel T. V. Huntoon was 
superintendent, and again in 1871; Thomas E. Grover in 
1872-73; Frederic Endicott from 1874 to 1878; George I. 
Aldrich from 1879 to 1883; George W. Capen, 1883. 

The map of Canton, published in 1855, has the boundary 
lines of the school districts distinctly traced. 

In 1858, a committee chosen at the March meeting rec- 
ommended that the town choose a school committee of one 
from each school district, and two at large. This plan was 
adopted, and the school committee has been so constituted 
ever since. 

In 1858, a petition for a high school was presented by 
Nathaniel Dunbar, Virgil J. Messinger, and others, and from 
this time forward, the establishment of a high school was 
urged in all school reports until May 4, 1866, when the first 
examination for admission took place in the Crane school- 
house. In 1869 it was placed in the building especially 
erected for it, at a cost of $10,000, after much controversy 
as to its location. In 1868 the district system was abolished; 
and in 1870 the town took possession of the schoolhouses 
at an appraisal of $27,000. In 1871 evening schools were 


established, and for a few years were well patronized. In 
1878 the salary of the superintendent was raised from five 
hundred to thirteen hundred dollars. 

The following gentlemen have been principals of the High 
School: Henry B. Miner, 1866-69; John F. Casey, 1869-73 ; 
Frank M. Wilkins, 1874-76; Clarence H. Berry, 1876-80; 
Frederic L. Owen, 1 881-18 — . 



THE centre of population during the first decade of the 
eighteenth century was near the village of Ponkapoag ; 
and here, on a hillside back from the road, the first settlers of 
Canton buried their dead. 

The Proprietors' Lot. 

I have no record of the existence of this place of sepulture 
anterior to 1708 ; but I know of no other spot, nor ever heard 
of any, where those who died between 1690 and 17 16 could 
have been buried. Years passed ; and the heads of families, 
whose children had been interred on the hillside, and who 
expected to be placed beside them, deemed it expedient to 
procure a legal title to their last resting-place, and the deed 
was procured from Thomas Shepard on the 7th of March, 
1 741. The consideration mentioned was £'^. The parties 
taking the deed were John Puffer and Benjamin Blackman, 
and " their associates hereafter mentioned ; " but no associates 
are mentioned. The land is described as being in Stoughton, 
and containing one quarter of an acre, on the west side of 
Shepard's farm, about six or seven rods to the southward of 
the public road. The deed provides that the proprietors 
shall have a right of way from the road to the place of burial, 
and recites that the land is the same that has " been im- 
proved as a burying place for more than thirty years past, and 
is now so used and known by that name." 

In the mean time the centre of population had moved 
toward the south. The first meeting-house had been moved 
to Packeen Plain, now Canton Centre ; and the Canton Ceme- 
tery, as it is now called, was first used as a place of inter- 
ment in 1716. Naturally the older cemetery was disused; 


and only the descendants of the original proprietors buried 
their dead at Ponkapoag. Although many are buried there, 
the stones still standing are few.^ 

Headstones were not used to mark the first interments. 
The early graves are marked with the rough stones of the 
field, with no inscriptions. The headstone of one of the 
original proprietors, " Old Lieutenant Puffer," as he was 
called, is in a sad condition ; it is broken so as to be almost 
illegible, and some kind hand has set it up against the wall. 
When the man to whose memory this stone was erected was 
ten years old, his mother and his eldest brother, James, were 
killed by the Indians at Mendon, and he was probably pres- 
ent at the massacre. He was an early settler in Canton, 
receiving from his father, in 1691, 120 acres of land, bounded 
northeasterly by what is now the Milton line, and on the 
northwest by the Great Blue Hill. He married, Dec. 10, 
169s, Mary Holbrook, of Roxbury. In 1705 he was ap- 
pointed a constable for Ponkapoag. He was born at Brain- 
tree, Oct. 10, 1665, and died Jan. 19, 1750. 

The English Graveyard. 

We have shown that the Proprietors' Lot was back from 
the country road, now Washington Street, and that the owners 
had a right of way to it Let us now turn our attention to 
the land intervening. Among the earlier settlers of Canton 
were those who had been, in England, members of the Estab- 
lished Church. 

Samuel Spare, who came over in 1728, was a member of 
Christ Church in Boston previous to his removal to what is 
now Green Lodge Street in 1738, and by will gives the in- 
terest of ;^I3 6s. %d. " for the use of the Church of England 
in this town forever." Joseph Aspinwall and Henry Crane, 
the great-grandfather of Margaret Fuller, lived at Packeen. 

Jonathan Kenney, in 1754, held the fee-simple of the inter- 
vening land between the road and the Proprietors' Lot. He 
was anxious to increase the influence of the denomination 
1 See Appendix X. 


with which he was connected, and he gives this land to " The 
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 
incorporated by royal charter, and to their successors for- 
ever." This gift he makes " in consideration of promoting 
the honor of Almighty God, and in the interest of the Church 
of England, as by law established, and for the better accom- 
modation of the professors of that holy religion." The land 
is to be " for a situation for a church for the worship of God 
according to the laws and usages of the Church of England, 
as by law established, and for a cemetery or burying place 
for the dead." 

The land was described as containing twenty-seven square 
rods, beginning at the road and running six rods to " a bury- 
ing place belonging to certain proprietors," then running 
southwest four rods and a half, thence to the road. Whether 
there was ever any line of demarcation between these two 
places of burial is doubtful. The line, if one existed, has 
long since disappeared; hence the two graveyards became 
merged, and the fact that they ever had a separate ownership 
was forgotten. The later name has been retained, and the 
enclosure is known as the English Churchyard. 

The question of the title to this churchyard has agitated 
the town on several occasions. In 1806 Capt. William Bent 
and others, descendants of the original proprietors, petitioned 
the town to fence the burying-ground at the northerly part of 
the town; and a committee, consisting of Benjamin Lewis, 
Elijah Dunbar, and Samuel Blackman, was instructed to 
inquire whether a clear title would be given to the town in 
case it should fence the yard. The town treasurer was di- 
rected to take good titles of both yards from the proprietors. 
Whether the treasurer received deeds from either party at 
the time, I am not informed, but judge that nothing was done 
about the matter, for in 1818 another committee reported that 
the town runs a risk in fencing land not its own; that the 
agent of " the church " could claim the land contemplated to 
be fenced, or prosecute the town for fencing it; but the com- 
mittee learned from the aged John Spare that the ground 
was not church property. This was true as to the church 


organization at Canton; and Mr. Spare probably was not 
aware that the fee-simple was in the Society for the Propa- 
gation of the Gospel. 

However, the wall was tumbling down; the trees were 
leaning against the old moss-covered stones and cracking 
them ; and the town voted that a sum of money should be 
granted to the proprietors, "they to fence the land." 

In 1843 the granite posts, which had once adorned the 
mansion of Gardiner Green in Boston, were reset, an iron 
gate took the place of the old red one, and a new wall was 
built. In 1883 the town granted the sum of $150 to put 
this burial-ground in good order; the wall was reset, and 
large stones were placed, one on each side of the gateway, 
bearing in old-fashioned lettering the following inscriptions : 

Oldest Burying Ground I Here stood ye English church 
1700. I 1 754-1796. 

The Gridley Graveyard. 

The enclosure at the southerly part of Canton, originally 
the Leonard family burial-ground, known of late years as 
the Gridley Graveyard, from the fact that here for over 
eighty years the remains of Major-General Gridley reposed, 
was established as a matter of necessity, in a trying time. 
In May, 1764, the town was visited with the small-pox; and 
the records of its ravages, as they have come down to us, 
are terrible. " Awful," says the old pastor, " was the provi- 
dence among the sick ; two adult persons, heads of families, 
died, and a private fast was had in the Parish on account of 
the visitation." The following extracts are from the diary of 
Elijah Dunbar : — 

" May 27. Terrible time on account of small pox. 
" June — . Vilet died this night, a very terrible time. 

" Leonards folks taken with the small pox. 

" Mrs. Vose dies of the small pox. 

" Old Joseph Fenno dies. 

" Polly Billings dies of the small pox, purple sort. 

" Leonards family in great distress. 

" Sunday Mrs. Davenport dies of the small pox. 


" 14th. Fasting on account of the great sickness. Poor Mrs. 

Leonard died this forenoon, and Walley this afternoon, 

of y° small pox. 
" 1 7th. Nurse Howard dies of small pox. 
" 23d. Ebenezer Talbot dies." 

The following gravestones — all that are standing — tell the 
sad story of three of the victims of the dreadful scourge : 

" Here lies y" body of Mr. WaUey Leonard, who died of the small 
pox, June the 14th, 1764, in the 44th year of his age." 

" Here lies y° body of Mrs. Mary Leonard (and her new bom 
babe), the wife and child of Ensign Nathaniel Leonard, who died of 
the small pox, June y° 14th, 1764, in the 39th year of her age." 

" Here lies the body of Mary Billings, daughter of Mr. William and 
Mrs. Mary Billings, who died of the small pox, June 8, 1 764, in the 
i8th year of her age." 

Nathaniel was the son of Uriah, and was born March 7, 
17 1 7. He married Mary, daughter of Major John and Re- 
becca (Fenno) Shepard, Jan. 26, 1744. He purchased, in 
1743, " London New," and is described as a "bloomer." He 
paid, in 1764, three shillings for every ton of iron ore he 
brought from Massapoag Pond. He resided in that part of 
the town known as the Hardware, and deserves remembrance 
for his public spirit in erecting the first milestone ever put up 
in the town. It stands just north of M&ssapoag Brook, at the 
point where Washington Street crosses it, a few rods from 
the original resting-place of Richard Gridley. It was found 
buried near the roadway, and was preserved by James Strat- 
ton Shepard ; it bears an inscription supposed to have been 
cut by Leonard's own hand : — 

B. 17 


N. L. 

After the death of Nathaniel Leonard, his son Jacob, in 
conveying the property to Richard Gridley, Edmund Quincy, 
and others, in 1772, reserves "one rod square for a burial 


place, and here some of the grantor's relatives are buried." 
Here Gridley buried his son, Scarborough, who died Dec. 16, 
1787, and his wife, Hannah, who died Oct. 17, 1790, and he 
was himself interred in this enclosure, near the graves of the 
Leonards and the collateral Bilhngses; so that in 1821, when 
Adam Kinsley bought the little plat, it had been increased, 
and "three rods were reserved for the burying place." 

In 1707 the population of the precinct had extended so 
far to the southward that it was decided by the Dorchester 
Committee to locate the meeting-house on Packeen Plain, 
now Canton Centre, and it was deemed convenient and desira- 
ble to have a burial-place near this meeting-house. The In- 
dians cheerfully relinquished all their interest in the land, and 
the spot selected was that portion of the present cemetery 
which lies nearly west of Central Avenue, and extends to 
within a few feet east of the only row of tombs in the ceme- 
tery ; it is bounded on the north by Prospect Avenue and on 
the south by the Washington Street wall. 

In the northeastern part of this division of the burial- 
ground are interred many of the first settlers. Their graves 
can easily be distinguished by moss-covered stones half sunk 
in mould, ornamented with death's-heads, cross-bones, and 
hour-glasses, standing in irregular rows at an angle with 
Prospect Avenue. Here stands the oldest stone in the cem- 
etery, — that of Gilbert Endicott, who died in 1716, and who 
was, says Mrs. Oliver Wentworth, who died many years ago, 
the first person buried in this ground. Here are also in- 
terred the first three ministers ; here too are buried the father 
of Roger Sherman, doctors, squires, colonels, deacons, and 
the heroes of the French and Revolutionary wars th&t have 
been famous in the annals of the town in days gone by. 

There are several inscriptions in the Canton Cemetery that 
are peculiar and worthy of record. Some occur in other 
places of burial. Miss Thurston's and Mrs. Hannah Daven- 
port's are far from original. 

" Stop, my friends, as you pass by. 
As you are now, so once was I. 
As I am now, so you must be ; 
Prepare for death and follow me." 


William Glover's is as follows : — 

" My Loving friends, as you pass by, 
On my cold grave pray cast your eye. 
Your sun, lilce mine, may set at noon, 
Your soul be called for very soon." 

This is Mrs. Mary Blackman's : — 

" Stop here, my friends, and drop a tear; 
Think on the dust that slumbers here. 
And when you read this date of me. 
Think on the glass that runs for thee." 

Mrs. Esther Tolman has the following epitaph : — 

" Stop, pensive reader, cast an eye ; 
Beneath such clod your flesh must lie." 

This is Mr. Nathaniel Merion's : — 

" Come, my dear friends, prepare to die. 
That you with me may reign on high. 
That when the last loud trump shall sound. 
At Christ's right hand we may be found." 

Mr. William Shaller's is as follows : — 

" Some hearty friend may drop a tear 
Over my dry bones, and say 
They once were strong as mine appear." 

This is Miss Polly Patrick's : — 

" Praisis on tombstones are vanity ; 
A good name is her monument." 

Aaron Baker's daughter is described as — 

" A lovely bud, so young and fair. 
Called home by early doom. 
Just come to show how sweet a flower 
In Paradise could bloom." 

There is a peculiarity on two stones erected to the memory 
of members of the Billings family which I have not noticed 
in any other cemetery. They begin, " In memory of y° Ris ; " 
then follows the name. 


Mr. Jesse Wentworth's epitaph is as follows : — 

" Mourn not for me ; 
Death is a debt 
To Nature due, 
That I have paid, 
And so must you." 

This is Eliza Tucker's, who died July 29, 1834 : — 

"Like a good steward what the Lord gave her she left in the 
bosom of the church, — ;?i,2oo." 

The following is the epitaph on the stone of Joseph Shel- 
den, a native of Staffordshire, Old England, who was born 
June 13, 1804, and died Feb. 8, 1847: — 

" I was a stout young man 
As you might see in ten ; 
And when I thought of tWs 
I took in hand my pen, 
And wrote it down in plain. 
That every one might see 
That I was cut down like 
A blossom from a tree. 
The Lord rest my soul. 


In 1791 the parish voted to fence the burying-place near 
the meeting-house, putting a stone wall on the east side ; and 
as there were several families in the parish who " do not make 
use of that Burying Place," it was agreed that " they shall have 
the portion of the fencing-tax remitted." 

It was also agreed that " if George Crosman, Esq., will please 
to grant an addition to the Burying Place on the side next to 
his land, as it is said he has proposed, the Parish will build 
the fence the entire southerly side." This small plat of land 
served the needs of the town of Canton for one hundred years 
from the burial of Gilbert Endicott. 

When the ancient place of sepulture became so crowded 
that it was necessary to enlarge it, the only suitable way to 
do this was by purchase of a piece of land on the west, — the 
adjoining land on the east being occupied by the meeting- 
house. At the beginning of the present century, this vacant 


land on the west was used as a timber-yard ; and the valley 
which a quarter of a century ago bloomed with flowers and 
fragrant shrubs, seventy-five years ago was used as a saw-pit. 
It contains about an acre, and extends from the imaginary 
line before referred to, just east of the tombs, until it joins the 
land on which the meeting-house of the First Congrega- 
tional Parish now stands. Under an article inserted in the 
town warrant in 1815, a committee, consisting of Deacon Ben- 
jamin Tucker, Thomas French, Jr., and Ezra Dickerman, was 
appointed to inquire into the expediency of enlarging the 
old, or laying out a new cemetery. This committee deemed 
it advisable to enlarge the original lot, provided as much of 
the adjacent land as would be necessary could be purchased at 
a reasonable price. They recommended that a committee be 
chosen to inquire the cost of the land, and report. The town 
appointed the same committee to attend to this matter, with 
the exception that Ezra Tilden took the place of Ezra Dick- 
erman. The committee was instructed to ascertain the cost 
of an acre of land on the opposite side of the street; the 
owner asking one hundred and fifty dollars for it, and Mr. 
Oliver Downes asking only fifty dollars an acre for the ad- 
joining land on the west, the latter was preferred, and the 
committee recommended its purchase ; also, that the money 
necessary be raised by subscription, the town to take the 
deed. A committee, consisting of Gen. Elijah Crane, Gen. 
Nathan Crane, Simeon Tucker, Samuel Carroll, and Israel Bai- 
ley, was appointed in 18 16 to carry the purpose of the town 
into effect. They however did nothing about the matter, and 
subsequently the town treasurer was authorized to pay the 
money and receive the deed. 

The deed of the land was obtained Jan. i, 18 17, when Mr. 
Downes, in consideration of fifty dollars, conveyed to the in- 
habitants of the town of Canton one acre of land bounded 
easterly on the burying-ground. The same year a commit- 
tee, consisting of Gen. Nathan Crane, Joseph Bemis, Esq., 
Thomas French, William Shepard, Elijah Endicott, Ezra 
Tilden, Jr., and Samuel Leonard, was appointed to assign 
to particular families such portions or parcels of the land 


annexed to the burying-ground as should be convenient, 
having in mind " symmetry and order in the improvement." 
The committee allotted the "westmost" corner in the rear of 
the purchase for a place of burial of foreigners and people of 
color, who might die in the town. The committee proposed 
that such of the inhabitants as might die thereafter should 
be buried in the rear of the new addition, beginning at the 
" northeastermost " corner adjoining the old ground, there 
extending westerly until it reached the lot assigned for for- 
eigners, filling in the first line all the way with the deceased, 
leaving a space between graves, and room at the rear for the 
erection of gravestones. The first line being full, a similar 
one was to be begun, and so on, until the new addition was 
filled up. Fearing this arrangement for " symmetry and 
order " might not meet the views of some of the citizens, 
the committee recommended that those persons who desired 
might be allowed to build tombs, — the natural basin in the 
centre of the lot being adapted to such purposes. It would 
appear, therefore, that it was intended to have a circle of 
tombs around this basin; fortunately, few were built. A 
receiving-tomb was erected in 1837, and rebuilt from designs 
of G. Walter Capen, in 1882. In order to make a convenient 
passage around the basin, one rod and a half of land was 
purchased on the western border of the new addition, for 
which the town paid at the rate of sixty dollars an acre. 

The first person buried in this addition to the burying- 
ground was Abel Wentworth, who was born March 21, 1 764, 
and died July 9, 1816. It was known as the Meeting-House 
Lot, from the fact that the two meeting-houses which pre- 
ceded the present one were located upon it. It is that por- 
tion of the present cemetery lying east of Central Avenue 
and extending to the path on the easterly brow of the hill, a 
few feet west from the beginning of Main Avenue. Its south- 
eastern corner was, within the memory of some now living, 
determined by a stunted oak-tree, known as " the old oak." 
When this tree, about 1858, had decayed, a maple-tree was 
planted by Mr. Charles Mackintosh on the site of the old 
stump ; it stands near the wall at the northeasterly boundary 


of the lot now owned by Nathaniel Dunbar. From this tree 
the Une ran directly to Prospect Hill, thence turning to the 
north, extended in a straight line until it was intersected by 
the line from the old gateway, running through Central Ave- 
nue, which divided it from the original burying-ground on 
the west. 

An attempt was made by the town, in 1829, to obtain this 
Meeting-House Lot by exchange ; but no satisfactory result 
being reached, the subject was dropped until 1840, when the 
question of a further addition to the cemetery was agitated. 
The town was desirous of knowing on what terms the old Meet- 
ing-House Lot could be obtained ; and at the annual March 
meeting, Thomas Dunbar, Elisha White, William Tucker, John 
Gay, Abel Wentworth, and Joseph Leavitt were chosen a com- 
mittee to inquire into the matter, and also to ascertain the 
expense of removing the old wall, and building in its place 
a wall of split granite. The committee estimated the cost of 
a good wall, four feet high, at nine dollars per rod, and that 
thirty-one rods were necessary. They recommended that 
the old wall be removed to the back part of the yard and 
capped with long flat stones "to prevent thoughtless boys 
from rolling stones from off the top of the wall down the 
hill." The old Meeting-House Lot was at this time owned 
by the First Congregational Parish. The committee of the 
town reported that by a vote of the parish passed at a meet- 
ing held on the 3d of March, 1840, the parish agreed to 
convey the " Old Meeting House Lot" to the town, pro- 
vided the latter would accept and fence the same, and that 
the land be improved by them for no other purpose than a 
cemetery; and the parish further authorized their treasurer 
to give a quit-claim deed of the premises. A committee was 
appointed by the town, in 1841, to lay out the walks, and or- 
nament the grounds by planting trees and shrubs. This com- 
mittee consisted of Elisha White, William Tucker, and Leon- 
ard Everett. In their report they said that they had laid out a 
carriage-way from the entrance on Washington Street to the 
boundary wall on the northeast rise (Central Avenue), fifteen 
feet in width ; and eight avenues, seven feet in width, running 


parallel to the street, subdividing the ground into lots fourteen 
feet wide. These strips the committee again divided into lots 
sixteen feet six inches long, by lines drawn at right angles 
with the street. The wall was ordered to be completed be- 
fore the Fourth of July, 1841. The ladies of the Sewing Circle 
held a fair, the proceeds of which were expended in orna- 
menting the newly acquired grounds. The first person 
buried in this addition was the wife of Elijah Bailey. 

A decade had not elapsed when the citizens again found 
that the cemetery was too small. Besides, a great change 
had taken place in public sentiment in relation to burial- 
places. The age had become refined. The laying out of 
Mount Auburn had quickened the hearts and minds of a few 
men, who, encouraged by the success attending the expen- 
diture of the small amount of money on the old Meeting- 
House Lot, determined to bring the matter before the citi- 
zens of the town at its annual meeting, and on the 8th of 
November, 1847, Hon. Thomas French, Leonard Everett, 
and Samuel Capen, were chosen a committee to take the 
matter of enlarging the burial-ground into consideration. 
March 6, 1 848, the report of the committee was accepted ; 
and another committee, consisting of Hon. Thomas French, 
Rev. Benjamin Huntoon, Capt. William Tucker, Ezra Ab- 
bot, M. D., and Silas Kinsley, was appointed, with power 
to purchase such additional land as they might deem expe- 
dient. This committee obtained, April 28, 1848, from the 
heirs of Oliver Downes, a deed of nine acres, three quarters, 
and twenty rods of land. The rights which the Canton 
Aqueduct Company had in the premises were reserved to 
them. This land was all that could be desired ; its situation 
was beautiful, the conformation of its surface being varied, 
and presenting undulations of hill and dale, — all admirably 
adapted for a " garden of graves." 

At the annual town meeting in May, 1848, it was voted that 
the same committee with the addition of two — F. W. Lincoln 
and Virgil J. Messinger — be a committee to grade and lay 
off the lots, and " that they have full discretionary powers to 
lay out such a part or parts of said addition as shall seem best 


to their judgment, and make or cause to be made a plan of 
the same, and appraise the value of the same, and lodge the 
plan with the treasurer of the town, that the inhabitants of 
the town may select such lots as may please their tastes and 

The following year the town voted to allow the Ladies' 
Sewing Circle of Rev. Mr. Huntoon's society permission to 
expend such sums as they should see fit in ornamenting the 
burial-ground, and that the care of the cemetery be in the 
hands of the selectmen. During the years 1850-52, $555 was 
thus expended by the ladies. 

The following is the report of the committee last mentioned : 

To the Selectmen and other Inhabitants of Canton, in Town Meeting 
Gentlemen, — Your committee, chosen May 8, 1848, to lay out 
the addition to the burying-ground, with full discretionary powers, 
also to lay out such a part or parts of said addition into lots as shall 
seem best to their judgment, and make or cause to be made a plan 
of the same, and also appraise the value of said lots, and lodge the 
said plan with the treasurer of the town, that the inhabitants of the 
town may select such lots as may please their taste and judgment, 
having attended to the duty assigned them, would offer the fol- 
lowing report: — 

The first and most difficult task assigned your committee was 
that of laying out the grounds so that they should best subserve their 
intended use as a cemetery for the dead, and satisfy the taste and 
meet the convenience of the living. For this purpose a committee of 
two, Hon. Thomas French and William Tucker, were chosen to 
obtain an engineer or some other competent person to perform this 
work ; who at a subsequent meeting of the committee reported that 
the Hon. Henry A. S. Dearborn, Mayor of Roxbury, the gentleman 
who projected and laid out the cemetery at " Mount Auburn," and 
also the "Forest Hills " cemetery at Roxbury, had generously offered 
to come and give us his services in laying out ours also, which offer 
was most gratefully accepted, as there is not probably a gentleman 
in the country better qualified for the work, by science, taste, and 
experience, than General Dearborn. 

The preparatory work of cleaning the grounds of brush and under- 
wood to fit them for the survey was assigned to the Secretary of the 


Board of the committee, who immediately hired hands and proceeded 
to the work assigned him. On the 29th of June, General Dearborn 
arrived, with his assistants, inspected, and commenced laying out the 
grounds with appropriate avenues and paths, as a general outline, to 
be filled out as future convenience might require, — the principal 
avenues being laid out sixteen feet wide, and the footpaths six feet 
wide. The 30th day of June being rainy, the work was suspended. 
On the loth day of July, General Dearborn and the Secretary of the 
Board completed the work of laying out the grounds ; and at the 
subsequent meeting of the committee, the Secretary was directed to 
proceed and mark out by cutting a trench on the side or sides of 
the avenues and paths, that they might be distinguished, and also 
to cut out the trees and brush that were within the avenues, to- 
gether with all the birch-wood upon the grounds, and cause the same 
to be sold at auction for the benefit of the town, which was accord- 
ingly done. This closed the first section of the duty assigned your 

The next duty was that of laying out a portion of the grounds into 
lots for the purpose of family burying-places. This task was assigned 
to the Secretary of the Board, and Mr. Virgil J. Messinger, and con- 
fined to one tier of lots adjoining the old burying-ground, together 
with the plot which had been reserved for free interments in the old 
burying-grounds. This tier of lots, commencing at the southeast 
corner of the lot belonging to Mr. Nathaniel Dunbar, and proceeding 
northerly to the northeast corner of the old burying-ground, 
making nine lots in that range, each lot being sixteen and one half 
feet long from east to west, and fourteen feet wide from north to 
south, together with the lots of similar size in the common ground of 
the old addition, were appraised at $5 per lot and a plan of them 
given to the treasurer of the town. 

On the 5th of December, the committee accepted a plan offered by 
Hon. Thomas French and Rev. Benjamin Huntoon, who had previ- 
ously been appointed a committee for that purpose, for laying out 
twenty lots, bordering on the easterly side of the old burying-ground ; 
namely, first, a walk or footpath eight feet wide ; then a range of ten 
lots fifteen feet wide from south to north, and twenty feet long from 
west to east : then another walk seven feet wide, and adjoining that 
another range of ten lots of similar dimensions with the above, bounded 
on the east by the Main Avenue, with a walk in the centre, running 
from west to east six feet wide, and a space of three feet between each 



lot from west to east, leaving each lot separate from the other, and 
that each of said lots be valued at $10 apiece, also that the owners of 
lots on the west side, adjoining the walk eight feet wide, give the name 
to said walk, and the plan of said lots was given to the treasurer of 
the town. This closed the second part of the commission of your 
committee. The whole number of lots laid out by your committee is 
forty; twenty of which were valued at $5 per lot, and twenty at $10 
per lot, making the sum of $300 (and the whole land cost less than 
$350) ; and the whole of the land taken for these forty lots, including 
all the avenues, walks, and vacant spaces, is less than one half of an 
acre, at which rate, throwing out three acres of waste or useless land, 
leaves a residue to be sold by the town for jiS4,20o, in available lots, as 
they must be wanted for the burial of its dead. Of the lots laid out 
by your committee, sixteen have been taken or spoken for, at the 
sum of Jioo, which is equal, lacking ^500, to the price of three acres of 
the land, and not occupying one fourth part of an acre ; your committee 
report also that the Messrs. Mackintosh, having taken three adjoining 
lots, have the privilege of enclosing the same in one lot, — namely, 
Nos. 102, 103, and 104, — as a family burying-lot, without regard to 
the spaces between them, as laid down on the plan. 

Your committee also have surveyed the strip of ground on the back 
or north side of the old wall, between the wall and the brow of the 
hill, and find that a tier of lots, twenty in number and twenty feet 
long from east to west, and fifteen feet wide from south to north, pass- 
ing the Main Avenue, continued through to the north side of them, and 
a pathway between each of the lots of six feet in width, with a sidewalk of 
six feet north of them, might be laid and valued at $10 per lot, which 
would produce the sum of $200, and also that of the western side of 
said strips, eleven lots, of sixteen feet by fourteen, might be laid out, 
and reserved for free burying-ground, or valued at $^ per lot, making 
the additional sum of $$s, amounting to $25^, equal to the cost of 
seven acres of the ground. But your committee recommend that an 
avenue sixteen feet wide be made in the ground where the twenty lots 
might be laid out. 

All of which is respectfully submitted. Per order of the 


Benjamin Huntoon. 
Canton, April 2, 1849. 

The beauty of our cemetery has become renowned through- 
out the State, and visitors who have travelled far and wide 


have expressed the opinion that it is the most beautiful rural 
cemetery in the country. The superintendents of city cem- 
eteries have visited it, praised its natural advantages, and 
admired the wide view from Prospect Hill. To our own 
citizens, the cemetery has become a matter of pride. Many 
expensive and beautiful monuments have been erected within 
its precincts ; the greensward has been carefully attended to ; 
and the whole ground presents an attractive and beautiful 

At the April meeting in 1870 the town voted that ten 
acres of land be purchased for the use of the cemetery, at 
an expense not exceeding $1,000; and a committee, con- 
sisting of Hon. Charles Endicott, Oliver S. Chapman, and 
Virgil J. Messinger, was appointed to carry the vote into 
effect. The sum of $500 was also appropriated, to be ex- 
pended on the cemetery, for that year. A committee, con- 
sisting of Virgil J. Messinger, Oliver S. Chapman, and J. M. 
Everett, was appointed to have charge of the cemetery. 
After the death of Mr. Chapman, Hon. Charles H. French 
was appointed to fill the vacancy. The original committee 
named the principal avenues in the older parts of the ceme- 
tery. Fourteen tablets were also erected, properly inscribed, 
to the memory of those soldiers who were killed or died in 
service during the Rebellion, whose graves had not been pre- 
viously designated. The committee purchased of Mr. Wil- 
liam Horton about ten acres of land adjoining the addition of 
1848, on the east side, the ground being admirably adapted 
for the purpose for which it is intended. 

After various consultations with Mr. H. A. May, of Boston, 
and after a careful topographical survey by Mr. Frederic 
Endicott, a plan was ordered to be prepared by the com- 
mittee. On the 3d of April, 1876, the town voted to give a 
lot in the cemetery for the purpose of erecting a monument 
to Gen. Richard Gridley. A fine elevation was selected by 
the Gridley committee, and the bones of the old hero were in 
due time deposited near it. He was the first person buried 
in the fourth addition to the cemetery. A lot has also been 


given by the town for the burial of the soldiers who fell in 
the War of the Rebellion. 

This chapter would be incomplete without further men- 
tion of Oliver S. Chapman, who, except Benjamin Hun- 
toon, did more to beautify and adorn this sacred place than 
any other. To him the town's cemetery owes much of its 
beauty. Here month after month he labored, directing the 
expenditure of the town's money, and when that was insuffi- 
cient, freely drew from his own purse the necessary funds. 
But the last year was indeed the crown and glory of his well- 
spent life ; and the remembrance of it will be long treas- 
ured by those who have the welfare of the town at heart. 
During the thirty years of his residence among us he was 
ever active in all measures pertaining to the improvement 
and embellishment of the town. He was more than a good 
citizen; he was an active and energetic public man, always 
ready to give more than his share of time and money to 
benefit his townspeople. He was ready to serve on any 
committee where the public welfare was concerned. If a 
schoolhouse was to be built, there was no one so well quali- 
fied to superintend its erection as Mr. Chapman. Day by 
day he was at his post, directing, guiding, and taking a part 
himself if the work flagged. During the dark days of the 
war he sustained the government, and by his influence induced 
others to do so who were disposed to be lukewarm. He was 
to be seen at all public meetings ; and though he seldom 
spoke, he was ever ready to contribute his time and his 
money to encourage those less hopeful than himself No 
one watched the course of events during those gloomy years 
with more interest than he, and no one was more gratified at 
the final result. 

While the Boston and Providence Railroad was in process 
of construction, Mr. Chapman paid his first visit to Canton, 
where he was engaged upon a piece of work near the viaduct, 
and occupied, with his employees, the very house of which he 
died possessed. It was about this time that his friend and 
cousin, William Smith Otis, married, June 22, 1835, Eliza- 
beth, the daughter of Deacon Leonard Everett, of this town, 



Mr. Chapman being present at the ceremony; but the hap- 
piness of their wedded life was of short duration, for on the 
13th of November, 1839, at the early age of twenty-six 
years, Mr. Otis died at Westfield, having invented and per- 
fected one of the marvellous mechanical inventions of the 
age, — the Otis steam excavator. 

On the 23d of March, 1845, Mr. Chapman was married to 
the widow of William S. Otis. In 1863-64 he was sent as 
Representative to the State Legislature from the Eleventh 
Norfolk District. In 1856 Mr. Chapman was chosen one of 
the directors of the Neponset National Bank. He was born 
at Belchertown, Aug. 18, 181 1, and died at Boston, of 
apoplexy, Feb. 8, 1877. 





FORGE POND lies in a northeasterly direction from the 
village of South Canton. It receives its supply of 
water from Massapoag Brook, the confluence of Beaver and 
Steep brooks on the south, and Pequit Brook on the north. 
The outlet to this pond is near the main street of the village, 
not far from the Massapoag House. The early settlers called 
it Saw-Mill River ; on the modern maps it bears the name of 
the " East Branch of the Neponset River." It is not a long 
stream ; less than two miles from its starting-point it joins the 
West Branch of the Neponset River in the Fowl meadows. 
The water furnishes the motive-power for the Kinsley Iron 
and Machine Company, the Revere Copper Company, and 
the Neponset Cotton Factory. 

Washington Street crosses the stream near the works of 
the Kinsley Iron and Machine Company. This spot is 
identical with the northeasterly corner of a lot which was 
known on the map of the Dorchester proprietors as Lot 
No. II. It consisted of forty-five acres, and was laid out 
and assigned to one Thomas Holman, who appears to 
have been born in Dorchester, Aug. 6, 1641. He was by 
occupation a shoemaker. The exact time at which he 
began the erection of a dam and saw-mill on the southerlj'^ 
side of the stream is not known. It was standing in 1700, 
and was the first saw-mill built in Canton. On the 12th of 
May, 1703, in consideration of ;^30, Holman sold his mill to 
Joseph Tucker, Jr., of Milton, who, it would appear, was 
already the possessor of Lot No. 12, and also had a lease 
of land in the Ponkapoag Plantation on the north of the 


stream, taking in the land now extending from the Massa- 
poag House to the residence of the late William Shattuck. 
The deed of the mill conveys the mill-house standing near 
the mill, also " all the saws, iron work, running and going 
gear, utensils, head weirs and mill ponds, earth and soil 
thereof, and all streams, waters, water courses, fishings, fish- 
ing places, ways, paths, passages, easements, profits, com- 
modities, advantages, emoluments, and appurtenances to the 
said mill and premises belonging." After the death of Dea- 
con Tucker his widow married, Dec. 16, 1746, Richard Stick- 
ney; and in 1750 it was known as Richard Stickney's mill. 

In 1760 there was conveyed to John Withington, Jr., by 
the son and grandchildren of Deacon Gamaliel Tucker and 
Abigail (Howard) Lyon — John and Samuel Howard — all 
the right in an old saw-mill and the stream and landing- 
place which formerly belonged to Joseph Tucker. On the 
map of 1785 it is put down as owned by Withington. It 
was subsequently, in 1788, purchased by Leonard and Kins- 
ley. In 1794 it is designated as Leonard and Kinsley's forge, 
corn and saw mill. 

There lived in Dorchester in 17 16 two gentlemfen by the 
names of Samuel and Elijah Danforth. They were the sons 
of the Rev. John Danforth, who for many years was the 
pastor there. They had a sister, Hannah, who married the 
Rev. Samuel Dunbar, the second minister of this town. Her 
gravestone is in the old Canton Cemetery, and bears this 
inscription : — 

" Here lyes buried y° body of Mrs. Hannah Dunbar, wife of the 
Rev. Samuel Dunbar, who departed this life Sept. ist, 1746, in y= 
48th year of her age." 

Elijah Danforth was born Nov. 30, 1683, and died Oct. 8, 
1736. In 1727 we find him a resident of Dorchester and 
one of the assessors. He seems to have devoted himself to 
the study of medicine, and quaint old Blake says, " He was a 
good and safe physician, and had been one of the Justices of 
the County of Suffolk for many years together." 

His brother Samuel was born in 1696, and graduated at 


Harvard College in 1715. He is denominated as "Sir"iu 
one of the ancient documents which I shall quote, because 
he had not then received his degree of Master of Arts. It 
was in the early period of their lives that their interests for a 
time drew the brothers to Canton ; and to their enterprise and 
perseverance were the early settlers indebted for the first, and 
for many years the only mill for grinding their corn. 

On March 11, 1717, the following petition, signed by the 
most prominent citizens, was presented to the Dorchester 
selectmen with the request that it be acted on in town 
meeting : — 

" The subscribers being informed that it is no small discourage- 
ment to such as would settle upon the Twelve Divisions in Dorchester 
New Grant that there is no corn mill there ; when they hear such as 
are already settled there are forced to go so far for grinding that it 
commonly costs them one whole day to get one grist, and sometimes 
two days ; being also informed that there is a good conveniency for 
such a needful mill on a certain stream, running from below Mr. 
Tucker's saw mill bridge down to the meadows between the line of 
said Twelve Divisions and the Indian land in said New Grant ; and 
being informed that Elijah Danforth, Esq., and his brother, Sir Dan- 
forth, are willing to build a corn mill and a house and barn for a miller 
there, the cost whereof will be great, if the town will give leave and 
encouragement, — therefore, to show our good-will to. works of such 
public benefit, we, for our part, declare our full consent and approba- 
tion, and it is our desire and request to the town that the freeholders 
and inhabitants of the town will please to grant the said Danforths, 
the undertakers for the said corn mill there, the said stream as above 
mentioned and described, to their sole use and benefit, they causing 
a corn mill to be erected there, together with leave and liberty to pur- 
chase some adjoining Indian land to set a house on, and to make a 
small tenement with accommodations to be let only to an HONEST 
miller. And we pray the Selectmen to insert accordingly in the war- 
rant for the next meeting." 

The following is the petition of the Danforth brothers : 

Feb. I, 1716. 

We also humbly petition the Town of Dorche.ster for the stream 
and privileges mentioned on the other side of this paper, hereby 


firmty obliging ourselves and engaging to the town to perform and 
fulfil the conditions, there also mentioned, of setting up a good, sub- 
stantial corn mill there. 

The petition was at once granted by the town ; and the land 
and river at Pacomit, as the place was called in the record, 
was laid out and confirmed to the Danforths. The place 
selected for this first grist-mill was at the extreme southern 
boundary of the Ponkapoag Plantation, and was the site after- 
ward used for the government powder-mill, now occupied by 
the Revere Copper Company. 

On the nth of April, 1717, William Ahauton, Indian 
preacher, in connection with Squamaug, Momentaug, Quok, 
Mary Pomham, and others, in behalf of all the Indians in the 
township of Dorchester, and in consideration of ^^40, paid 
by Elijah Danforth and his brother Samuel, and in consid- 
eration of " leave given us by the Governor, the Lieutenant- 
Governor, and the Honorable Commissioners of the Indians, 
do give and sell all our interest in the river running from Mr. 
Joseph Tucker's saw-mill downward to the meadows, and the 
soil and stones which the said water runs upon." The land 
was then directly opposite the land of Mr. Samuel Jones in 
the " Twelve Divisions," and contained about forty acres. The 
town of Dorchester ordered a road to be laid out in \^\^ on 
the south side of Massapoag Brook, running from what is now 
Washington Street to the Revere Company's dam, at a dis- 
tance of four rods from the river, and authorized the Dan- 
forths to join their mill-dams over the river to any part of the 
highway. It is not probable that this mill was a financial 
success, for in ten years we find the Danforths gone, and the 
property, with the dwelling-house and grist-mill, in the hands 
of Ebenezer Maudsley (Mosely), who conveyed it to Philip 
Goodwin. ' 

For a hundred years after its settlement in 1620 Massa- 
chusetts was the chief seat of the iron manufacture on this 
continent. The places where the iron was melted were called 
bloomeries, and their owners or workmen bloomers. The 
bog, or swamp, ores were the only kinds obtainable. The 


vicinity of Canton was abundantly supplied with this ore, and 
so valuable was it considered that when land was sold, in 
some instances rights to dig iron ore were reserved ; or in 
case iron ore should be subsequently discovered, then the 
sale was to be invalid. 

The Neponset Cotton Factory — a large stone building, 
erected in 1824 — is easily seen from the viaduct of the Bos- 
ton and Providence Railroad in Canton. It occupies the last 
water privilege on the easterly branch of the Neponset River. 
In 1 71 7 the privilege now occupied by this corporation was 
selected by a company of gentlemen as a suitable place 
whereon to erect a mill for the smelting of iron ore. It 
consisted of Edmund Quincy, of Braintree, John White, of 
Boston, Standfast Foster, Samuel Paul, Thomas Tileston, 
Ebenezer Maudsley (Mosely), Ebenezer Jones, Timothy Jones, 
and Robert Royall. From the ninth lot in the " Twelve Di- 
visions," originally laid out by the town of Dorchester, they 
purchased two acres of land; and here, in connection with 
Timothy Jones, the owner of the property, they biiilt a dam 
and erected buildings suitable for smelting iron ore. These 
works were the first in Dorchester and were continued for 
some time; but the cost of procuring iron in this manner 
was so great that the business was discontinued, the build- 
ings unused, and finally demolished. 

The policy of the mother country had always been opposed 
to the manufacture of iron in the colonies ; and the law passed 
in 1750 prohibiting the erection or continuance of any mill 
for slitting or rolling iron, or any furnace for making steel, 
under a penalty of ;^200, was one of the grievances which 
resulted, a few years later, in the Revolution. 

Kent, Suffolk, Dorset, and Warwickshire in England each 
has a river Stour. Like other ancient Saxon names, the 
original meaning of Stour has faded away ; and its etymology 
is by no means easily ascertainable. The suffix ton originally 
meant an enclosure, a homestead, or a farm ; and in Scotland 
at the present day, a solitary homestead, as well as a hamlet, 
goes by the name of a toun. If the ton, or enclosure, was 
situated on a hill, it was called Hilton ; if it was noted for its 


production of apples, Appleton ; if it was a good place for a 
hunt, Hunton; if it was situated by the water, Waterton; if 
on the river Linn, Lynton; if on the river Stour, Stourton. 
We may therefore by the termination ton distinguish the 
Saxon origin of a name or place. These places gave sur- 
names to families; and the English family of Stoughton, 
with a slight orthographical change, derived their name from 
the town on the Stour. 

The town of Stoughton was incorporated by an Act of the 
General Court, passed on the 22d of December, 1726, one 
hundred and six years after the landing on Plymouth Rock. It 
was named in honor of Lieut.-Gov. William Stoughton, son of 
Col. Israel Stoughton, who in his lifetime owned many acres of 
land in Dorchester, and who during the Pequot War was com- 
mander-in-chief of the colonial forces, and subsequently in 
England was a lieutenant-colonel in the parliamentary army. 

William was born at Dorchester in 163 1. After graduating 
at Harvard, he went to England and became a Fellow of New 
College, Oxford, and received the degree of Master of Arts. 
He pursued the study of divinity, and preached with great 
acceptance, both in England, and on his return in his native 
land. Not desiring a settlement in the ministry, he interested 
himseff in public affairs. In 1676 he went to England a sec- 
ond time, in obedience to a requisition from King Charles, 
as an agent for the colonies, to give answer to the vari- 
ous complaints which had been brought against them. On 
May ir, 1686, he was appointed governor, but refused to serve. 
Soon afterward he was appointed deputy president of the 
colony; and in the July following he was placed at the head 
of the courts of the colony, which office he held until he 
became a member of the council of Sir Edmund Andros. 
In 1692, on the arrival of the charter of William and Mary, 
he was appointed lieutenant-governor, which office he held 
until his death, and by virtue of which he assumed the duties 
of governor upon the departure of Sir William Phipps for 
England in 1694. He received his appointment as Chief- 
Justice of the Superior Court, Dec. 22, 1692, and was ap- 
pointed Chief-Justice of a special Court of Oyer and Ter- 


miner, constituted to conduct the trial of persons charged 
with witchcraft. He died unconvinced of the erroneous 
decisions he made at that time. Aside from this he was, 
says an old account, " a person of eminent qualifications, 
honorable extract, liberal education, and singular piety." 
He was liberal with voice and pen in the cause of education. 
His gift of land to Dorchester for school purposes, the town 
farm in Milton, and Stoughton Hall at Harvard College re- 
main as memorials of his liberality. He died at Dorchester 
on the 7th of July, 1701. 

Whom have we lost? 

Stoughton ! 


I have said sufficient. Tears press. 

I keep silent. 

The Act incorporating the South Precinct of Dorchester, 
with the exception of that portion which had been previously 
set off to Wrentham, as a new town, was signed by the 
Lieutenant-Governor, William Dummer, the office of gov- 
ernor being vacant, and became a law on the 22d day of 
December, 1726. 

"At a Great and General Court or Assembly for his Majesties 
Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, begun and held 
at Boston on Wednesday, the 2Sth day of May, A. D. 1726, and con- 
tinued by several Prorogations unto Wednesday, the 23d day of 
November following, and then met. 

"An Act for Dividing the Town of Dorchester, and Erecting a New 
Town there by the name of Stoughton. 

" Whereas the Town of Dorchester, within the County of Suffolk, 
is of great Extent in Length; and lies Commodious for Two Town- 
ships, and the South Precinct with the Land beyond it within the 
Bounds of Dorchester are competently filled with Inhabitants, who 
have made their Application to the said Town, and also Addressed 
this Court that the said Lands may be made a distinct and separate 
Township : 

"Be it therefore Enacted by the Lieutenant Govemour, Council, 
and Representatives in General Court Assembled, and by the Author- 


ity of the same, That all that Part of Dorchester lying to the South- 
ward of the Dividing Line betwixt the North and South Precinct, 
together with the Lands beyond the said South Precinct in Dor- 
chester, be and hereby are set off and constituted a separate Town- 
ship, by the name of Stoughton ; And that the Inhabitants of the 
said Lands as before described, excepting those Families already set 
off and added to the Town of Wrentham, be and hereby are Vested 
with the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities that the Inhabitants of 
other Towns within this Province by Law are or ought to be Vested 
with : And that the Inhabitants of the said Town of Stoughton shall 
have their proportional Part of the Income of the School Lands lying 
within the same ; viz : In Proportion to their Part of the Province 
Tax for this present Year. 

" Provided, That the Inhabitants of the said Town of Stoughton 
do, within the space of Twelve Months firom the Publication of this 
Act, procure and settle a Learned, orthodox Minister of good Con- 
versation, and make Provision for his comfortable and honourable 
Support, and likewise provide a School-Master to Instruct their Youth 
in Writing and Reading; And that the said Inhabitants pay their 
respective Proportions of all Province Taxes and Town Taxes, that 
are already Levyed or Assessed upon the Inhabitants of Dorchester, 
for Charges hereto arisen within the said Town. 

" And further, It is to be Understood That the Proprietors of any 
Common and Undivided I^ands in the said Townships of Dorchester 
and Stoughton, are to Hold and Enjoy their respective Rights and 
Properties in such Lands, as if the said Township had not been made, 
Any Law, Usage, or Custom to the contrary notwithstanding." 

The day after the Act incorporating the town of Stoughton 
was signed, Nathaniel Hubbard, commonly called Squire 
Hubbard, was directed to call together the inhabitants of 
the new town; and in conformity thereunto, on the 26th of 
December he issued his warrant, directed to Samuel Hart- 
well, one of the constables of the town of Dorchester, whose 
residence was in the newly incorporated town, requiring him 
to warn the voters to assemble at the meeting-house to 
choose suitable officers for the new town. The original war- 
rant, signed in a bold and elegant hand, is before me as I 
write ; and on the back of the instrument is Samuel Hart- 
well's return, with his autograph. 


Suffolk, ss. 

To Samuel Hartwell, of Stoughton, in the County of 

j .3. } 

Suffolk, yeoman, one of the Constables in the South part 
of Dorchester, now made Stoughton, Greeting : 

In pursuance of an order of the Great and General Court im- 
powering and directing me, the subscriber, to summon the inhabitants 
of said town of Stoughton to meet and assemble for the choosing 
of town officers to stand until the next annual election, according 
to law, these are in His Majesties name to require you immediately 
to summons and give notice to the inhabitants of Stoughton afore- 
said, qualified for voters, to assemble at the public meeting house in 
said town, on Monday, the second day of January next, at eleven of 
the clock of the forenoon, then and there to choose town officers 
according to the aforesaid order of Court. 

Hereof fail not, and make return hereof, and of your doings herein 
unto myself, at or before the said second day of January. Dated at 
Stoughton aforesaid, the twenty-sixth day of December, in the thir- 
teenth year of His Majesties reign, Annoque Domini 1726. 

Nathaniel Hubbard. 

Suffolk, ss. 

Stoughton, Dec. 31, 1726. 

By virtue of this warrant I have warned the inhabitants of the town 
of Stoughton to meet according to time and place within mentioned. 

Samuel Hartwell. 

At the beginning of the new year, on the 2d day of Jan- 
uary, 1727, in obedience to this call, the legal voters as- 
sembled at the meeting-house, and organized their first town 
meeting. The follow^ing officers w^ere chosen : — 

Nathaniel Hubbard, Esq., was elected moderator. Joseph 
Tucker was elected town clerk. Nathaniel Hubbard, Esq., 
Joseph Hewins, Joseph Tucker, William Crane, and George 
Talbot, selectmen and assessors. Philip Liscom, constable 
for the north part of the town. John Hixson, constable for 
the south part of the town. Surveyors of highways, John 
Shepard, John Withington, Ephraim Payson, Samuel Bul- 
lard. Tithing-men, Isaac Stearns, Benjamin Esty. Fence- 
viewers, John Feni]o, Benjamin Esty. Town treasurer, 
Joseph Tucker. Sealer of leather, William Crane. Hog- 


reeves, Obadiah Hawes and John Kenney. Field-drivers, 
Bezaleel Billings and Ebenezer Healy. 

As soon as the ofificers were chosen, it was the custom 
for the town clerk to issue an order to one of the constables 
of the town, requiring him to summon the persons elected 
to the various offices to appear before one of his Majesty's 
justices of the peace for the county of Suffolk, within six 
days, to be sworn to the faithful discharge of the duties of 
their respective offices. 

The first duty of the selectmen, who were also assessors, 
was to make a tax list. This of course was done in 1727, 
and was the first tax assessed in Stoughton.^ The list was 
divided into two parts, — one embracing the taxable inhabit- 
ants living in the north part of the town, or that part now 
the town of Canton, and the other taking in those residing in 
the south part of the town, now Sharon. 

1 See Appendix XXITI. 




DURING the latter half of the seventeenth century, a 
Scotchman by the name of John Dunbar, having met 
with misfortunes in business, resolved to leave the land of 
his ancestors and the place of his birth, and seek another 
country, where he hoped to re-establish his shattered for- 
tunes, and better his worldly condition. 

He sailed for one of the West India Islands, but soon after 
his arrival, becoming disgusted by the impiety, and shocked 
by the immorality, of the natives, resolved to embark for New 
England. On arriving here, he found among the denizens of 
the town of Boston that reverence for God and respect for 
the ordinances of Christianity which he had sought in vain in 
sunnier climes. The customs and habits of the people re- 
minded him of " bonnie Scotland," and he was charmed with 
the honest and upright life of the people with whom he came 
in contact ; but there was another influence, far more potent, 
that held him to these shores. He became enamoured of a 
young lady soon after his arrival, Miss Margaret Holmes by 
name, who resided in Dedham. The intimacy continued, and 
soon ripened into marriage. On the 2d of October, 1704, 
in the town of Boston, a child was born to them; he was 
christened by the good old Scripture name of Samuel. But 
the little boy was destined to grow up without the care and 
protection of his father, who, dying when the boy was four 
years of age, left to the mother the sole charge of the child. 
Thus, early in life, Samuel Dunbar became dependent solely 
upon the industry and exertions of his mother. He soon, 
however, attracted the attention of the Rev. Cotton Mather, 
one of the most learned and distinguished ministers, and the 


most voluminous author of his time. Mather was then pas- 
tdr of the North Church in Boston ; and fortunate indeed was 
young Dunbar to obtain the patronage of so scholarly a man. 
True, he imbibed many of the austerities and popular fanati- 
cisms of the day, along with the store of knowledge which 
was imparted to him by the eminent divine. To one famil- 
iar with the history of the witchcraft delusion and the promi- 
nent part which Mather played in it, it is unnecessary to say 
that, educated under a man holding to the strict doctrines of 
a severe faith, it is no wonder that the pupil, in after life, 
should have been somewhat distinguished for arbitrary and 
dogmatic inclinations. We must remember that the early 
ministers who were potential in influencing the minds of 
younger ones had the sternness and devotion, but not the 
gentleness and forbearance, of the Christian of to-day. Could 
gentleness, grace, forbearance, and forgiveness have been 
added to their undeviating regard for principle, they would 
have manifested the highest type of Christianity. 

Mr. Dunbar entered the Boston Latin School at an early 
age, and afterward Harvard College, and graduated in 1723. 
Immediately afterward he accepted the position of usher in 
the Latin School, at the same time prosecuting the study of 
divinity. In due course of time he completed his studies, 
and received a call to settle over the church of Christ in 

The following members of the church extended the call to 
Mr. Dunbar : — 

Nathaniel Airs, Edward Bailey, Benjamin Blackman, Wil- 
liam Crane, Samuel Chandler,* John Dickerman, Joseph 
Esty, Benjamin Esty, Nathaniel Etheridge, Benjamin Gill, 
Samuel Hartwell, Joseph Hewins, Elhanan Lyon, Peter 
Lyon, Joseph Morse, Joshua Pomeroy, Robert Pelton, Isaac 
Stearns, Thomas Spurr, Richard Smith, David Stone, Joseph 
Tucker, Joseph Toplifif, Thomas Tolman, George Talbot, 
David Tilden, John Wentworth, John Withington, William 

The decision of the church was ratified and concurred in 
by the town at a meeting held on the 3d of August, 1727; 


and the town voted to give Mr. Dunbar £100 in salary annu- 
ally, and ;^200 in gratuity, if Mr. Dunbar would consent to 
become the minister. The town also chose as a committee 
to agree upon terms with Mr. Dunbar, Isaac Stearns, Samuel 
Bullard, Joseph Tucker, John Vose, Peter Lyon, Jr., and John 

The following is the letter of acceptance written by Mr. 
Dunbar, recorded upon the town's books, the original of 
which is still extant. The letter bears date, Sept. 23, 1727: 

Gentlemen, — ■ Whereas it has pleased the Holy God, in whose 
hands are the hearts of all men, so to incline your hearts and affec- 
tions to me and my preaching as that, in a meeting called in order to 
choose a pastor to watch for your souls, there was a very great and 
delightful unanimity in electing myself, — the youngest, the meanest, 
and most unworthy of all, — I would, in the first place, give all the 
glory to God (Not unto me, oh Lord ! but to thy name be the 
glory) ; and then would render thanks, and all suitable gratitude to 
you, who have elected me. It being a case of such great weight and 
concern, I, unwilling to trust to my own judgment or inclination, have, 
after earnest prayer to God for directions, applied myself to several, 
both ministers and others, for their advice, as knowing that in a mul- 
titude of counsel there is safety. The advice that has been given me 
is to accept of your call, provided you will come unto these conditions : 
In general, that you will afford me a comfortable maintenance, that I 
may live as a minister of Christ ought to live. In particular, that 
besides the ;£'200 which you give me as a settlement, you procure 
some parsonage lands fit for the production of hay and corn. That 
besides the ;^ioo you have offered me as a yearly salary, you will 
promise to find me my firewood from year to year, and bring it to my 
house. That if God should increase me in a family, and this should 
prove too httle and narrow, you will make such additions as shall sup- 
port me comfortably, so that I may not be taken off from my studdys 
and my ministerial labors, through necessary distressing cares. That 
you will promise to afford me this maintenance if I should be carried 
off from my work by the Providence of God, either through sickness, 
or, if God should spare and prolong my life, through the infirmities 
of old age. If you will comply with these terms — which to me seem 
reasonable — and will oblige yourselves to fulfil them, I now declare to 
you, in the presence of the Great and Glorious God, who keepeth 
covenant, and his Holy angels, who are doubly concerned spectators 


in such weighty transactions, that I here accept of your call, and am 
willing to settle among you as your minister; and promise, by the 
Divine help, to carry towards you as becomes a minister of Christ, 
and as my duty is pointed and explained to me in the Sacred Writ- 
ings. I promise to take pains in my study ; to prepare my sermons, 
that you may have the beaten oil of sanctuary ; carefully and faithfully 
to watch for your souls ; to give the best advice to you I can ; to ad- 
minister comfort to the disconsolate, and reproof to the prophane ; to 
administer the seals of the Covenant, the sacraments to you, and the 
censures of the Church even, if there should be occasion, which I pray 
God there may not be. Further, I promise to continue your minister 
till Death, unless some unforeseen Providence should fall out, which 
will make my duty to leave you. 

Sam'l Dunbar. 

At the town meeting held on Oct. 9, 1727, the above letter 
was read, and the town voted to " come in to " Mr. Dunbar's 
proposals. The expenses of the council of the five churches 
were also ordered to be defrayed by the town. On the 15th 
of November following, Mr. Dunbar was ordained. The 
services were attended by a large concourse of people. 
The order of exercises consisted of an introductory prayer 
by the Rev. Samuel Dexter, of Dedham; the Rev. Peter 
Thacher, of Milton, gave the charge ; and Rev. Joshua Gee, 
pastor of the Second Church in Boston, presented the right 
hand of fellowship. 

Mr. Dunbar preached his own ordination sermon, as had 
been the custom since the days of John Cotton. His text 
was taken from the First of Timothy, third chapter, first 
verse: "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office 
of a bishop, he desireth a good work." Mr. Dunbar's first 
year was passed with much satisfaction to himself and to his 
people ; and at the end of the year he says : " I would bless 
God, who has carried me through one year so comfortably, 
and has given me such success in my labors and ministry." 
During the year fourteen persons owned the covenant, sixty- 
nine were baptized, eleven were married, and nineteen funerals 
were attended; and it was not necessary to excommunicate 
any member of the church, nor did any fall under its censure. 


The second year one person owned the covenant, thirty were 
added to the church, and thirty-four were baptized. 

In 1 73 1 the till of the church suffered from some undis- 
covered cause. At one time, thirty shillings were taken 
from the deacon who had charge of the money, and at an- 
other time, forty-five shillings. The church therefore called 
a meeting to raise money to replenish the exchequer, in order 
to purchase the elements for the holy sacrament. The church 
voted " to acquit " the deacon of the forty-five shillings, but 
would not " acquit " him of the thirty. The church further 
agreed to " acquit " him from the duty of keeping the church 
money any longer. It was further considered inexpedient to 
allow the deacons any " pension " for going to Boston to pro- 
cure the elements, and it was thought wise that none of 
the congregation should be present at any private church 

A curious custom seems to have prevailed at this time. 
It was voted that the bottles which were used to bring up the 
wine, and which were the property of the church, might with 
propriety be loaned to those having in charge the funeral 
of a church-member or any of his family, the borrower to be 
responsible for their safety, and to return them sound and 

On the 4th of August, 1734, the church voted to send 
delegates to a council to be held at Salem. A collection 
was taken to defray the expenses. It amounted to £T) 35-. ; 
and Mr. Dunbar remarks that the church " was not spirited 
to do as so large and numerous a church might do," and 
he resolves to try it again, but with no better success ; and 
the entry this time is " a poor, niggardly collection." The 
result of this council at Salem, which we may say, in passing, 
created quite an excitement at the time, was accepted by 
the church in Stoughton ; and they pronounced sentence of 
" non-communion with that obstinate and impertinent church, 
even the First Church in Salem." 

On Dec. 28, 1735, Mr. Dunbar read a proclamation, on the 
matter of an unusual and malignant distemper in many towns 
of the province, which was likely to spread through the land. 


This year it was voted "that this church be a professed Con- 
gregational church." 

On Sept. lo, 1738, the town voted that a committee of five 
men be chosen to treat with Mr. Dunbar, and obtain from 
him a statement of what he thought would be a sufficient 
maintenance for him yearly, in time to come, without further 
demands. The committee waited upon Mr. Dunbar, who 
in reply wrote them the following letter, the original of which 

is in my possession : — 

Stoughton, Sept. 25, 1738. 

Gentlemen and Neighbors, — If you would be at y« pains to look 
back to my original contract with this town, when I accepted y' call 
you had given me to y= Pastoral ofSce among you, you will find such 
an engagement as this to me, viz. : " That if God should increase 
me in a family, and this, — /. e., the hundred pounds you had granted 
me for my yearly salary, — I say if this should prove too little and nar- 
row, you will make such additions as shall support me comfortably.'' 
What you allow me from year to year is not sufficient for this end by 
reason of the low currency and little value of our money. It has for 
several years fallen short, as I have signified to many of you months, 
and I suppose I may with truth say, years ago. Therefore I signify 
this incompetency of what you vote and allow me yearly, for my family 
maintenance, to you all, now legally met together, that when you vote 
me my salary, you may do what is just, and according to our original 
covenant. Moreover, I would inform you that the meadow you allow 
me from year to year in lieu of hay and corn, or land fit for the pro- 
duction oLthem, is not sufficient to answer for them, according to the 
allowance you long since granted me. 

Your loving and faithful pastor, 

Samuel Dunbar. 

In order that the town may be satisfied, Mr. Dunbar ap- 
pends an account of his expenses for the maintenance of his 
family for the past year: — 

A true account of my expenses for the maintenance of my family fi-om 
October 9th last past till this time. 

To Mr. Baker for Shoes ... ... £6 — 7 — o 

To Lieut. Will'm Billings, to Sundries .... i — 18 — o 

To Mrs. Clap, to Sundries 1 — 18 — o 

To Sam'I Cummins, to Sundries o — 4 — o 



To Mrs. Daniel, for her Powder . . . 

To Mr. Dwelle for Sundries . . 

To Indians for Cranberries 

To Mr. James Foster for Gravesstons . 

To Mrs. Goodwin 

To Mrs. Liscom for Butter .... 

To Elea'r May, Juu'r., to mending Shoes 

To Mr. Tilden, to mending Shoes . . 

To Mrs. Jones for Spinning .... 

To Jemima Pope, to cutting out a garment 

To Dr. Thompson for medicines 

To Mrs. Stebbins, for Wasliing and Spinning 

To Mary Stowe for washing, etc. . . . 

To Benj. Smith for Pidgeons .... 

To Mr. Savel for Tayloring 

To Mr. Shubal Wintworth for Smithing 
To Mr. Endicott for Sundries .... 
To John White for Partridges . . 
To Mr. Simpson for Sundries . . 
To Sundries from Boston & Dorchester. 
To Roasting Pigs . . 

To Beef 

To Tallow 

To Pork 

To 5 Barrels of Cyder . 
To Rye, 8 Bushels, I2>^ p. Bush. . . 
To Indian Com, 35 Bush., 8^ p. Bush. 
To Potatoes, 4 Bush., 8}4 p. Bush. . 

To Cloth for myself 

To Clothing for my Servants . . . 
To Thread 

- o 

— o 
o — 16 — o 

O 10 — o 

I— 5— o 
o — 6 — o 

— 5 — o 

1— 7— 9 
I— 8— o 
4 — o— o 

4— 3— 6 
^o- 7 

0— 3— o 

22 10 — 6 

68—11— I 

O 10 — o 

6 — 15 — o 
I — 10 — o 

24— 7— 6 
3— IS— o 
4 — 16 — 6 

14 — o — o 
I — 12 — o 

10 — 12 — 6 
4—15— o 

1— 5— o 

^198— 8— II 
S. Dunbar. 

The town, at the meeting on March 5, 1738-39, voted 
that the town shall make as good to the Rev. Samuel Dunbar 
his ;^ioo as it was twelve years ago ; namely, that it shall 
purchase as much of the necessaries of life as it would then ; 
and that this shall not only be so in the future, but shall 
be retroactive for the two years last past, and a committee 
was chosen to decide what was a just and equitable reimburse- 
ment. The report of the committee is as follows : — 


We, y° Subscribers, being a Committee chosen by y" Town to in- 
quire into y° Differance between y^ prices of y' necessaries of Life 
Twelve years agoe & y' three Last years. Report as followeth. We 
finde that y° necessaries of Life have Risen so much betwixt y^ years 
1727 & 1738, that that which one hundered pounds would purches in 
1727 would take in y° year 1738 one hundred eighty-nine pounds, 
fourteen shillings, & eleven pence ; and that in y^ year 1 739 it would 
take one hundred eighty-four pounds & thirteen shillings, and so 
Likewise in y'= year 1740. Dated at Stoughton, May y'' 17th, 1740. 
All which is humbly submitted by 

William Crane, ■j 

William Billings, V Committee. 

Richard Hdcson, J 

The deacons, as well as the pastor, were sometimes sub- 
ject to annoyance. Deacon Stearns in 1739 was not pleased 
with an observation which fell from the lips of John Upham. 
The latter told the former that he was " an old, one-eyed 
hypocrite and a lying old sinner." But being brought before 
the church, he asked the forgiveness of the deacon and the 
church. Deacon Stearns's house was situated in what is now 
Stoughton, on the west side of a cross-road that leads from 
French and Ward's factory toward Dry Pond. On the top 
of a hill, commanding a fine prospect, is still to be seen the 
cellar-hole of a house which he erected as early as 1716, — one 
of the earliest in modern Stoughton. He died April 5, 1741. 

On April 11, 1739, at a church meeting, the following query 
was propounded, "Whether married persons, who cannot 
live together peaceably, but are always in broils and conten- 
tions, may not, by consent, live separately, and be no whit 
concerned with one another? " It passed unanimously that 
it was not agreeable to the laws of Christ in the gospel. 
Matt. xix. 9. 

Mr. Dunbar sums up the year 1744 in these words : — 

" Through the patience and goodness of God, I have finished the 
seventeenth year of my ministry. It has been a year of very uncom- 
mon trial to me, but I desire with all thankfulness and humility to set 
up my Ebenezer, for hitherto the Lord has helped me." 


In 1 746 " there was a terrible fever and mortality among 

Mr. Dunbar received three letters inviting him to accept 
the office of chaplain in the army at Louisburg. One was 
from the Committee of War, one from " the Honorable 
Secretary," and the third from Brother Taylor, of Milton, rep- 
resenting the Ministerial Association, of which Mr. Dunbar 
was a most distinguished member. Mr. Dunbar was willing 
and anxious to go, and laid the letters before the church, 
and asked that the church would grant him leave of absence 
for a while, to go into the service of his country; but only 
one hand was raised in the affirmative, and the pastor ex- 
pressed the hope that if it was their desire that he should 
remain, the Lord would reward them by graciously giving 
success to his ministry among them. 

Nov. 14, 1747, twenty years had rolled away since Mr. 
Dunbar began his ministry in the Stoughton First Precinct; 
and he tells us that during all these years he was never un- 
able to perform his duties on account of ill health or any 
other cause. He exclaims, "I desire, with Samuel of old, to 
set up my Ebenezer, saying. Hitherto the Lord has helped 

On Feb. S, 1749, Mr. Dunbar preached a sermon on "The 
Melancholy Occasion of the Premature Deaths of Several 
Young Persons." From it we learn that a child of Mr. James 
Andrews and one of Mr. Samuel May were suddenly choked 
to death within the year; that four persons, Elisha Tailor, 
Abigail Liscom, Mary Haughton, and Mary Clapp were re- 
moved by a terrible fever within a month. 

We find the following record this year. The initial letters 
of the name are only given. A knowledge of the dead lan- 
guages was then confined to a select minority ; and the confes- 
sion is in such a tongue that it was undoubtedly unintelligible 
to any in the church except the pastor : " L. P. Coram eccle- 
sia, propter vini excessum, sponte sua confessionem habuit 

On the 28th of May, 1760, Mr. Dunbar preached the an- 
nual election sermon, " The presence of God with his people, 
their only safety and happiness." 


On Feb. 18, 1762, Theodore May, a little lad, offered him- 
self as a communicant to the church. 

The same year Isaiah Tolman left Mr. Dunbar's church 
and joined the Episcopal Church in the town, called Trinity 

In 1769 Elijah Dunbar and Lieut. Benjamin Gill were chosen 
deacons of the church. Rev. Mr. Dunbar preached the Con- 
vention sermon this year at Boston. 

It is related of Mr. Dunbar that on Feb. 11, 1769, he was 
called to attend the funeral of one who had not been an 
attendant at church, but who was called in those days "a 
scoffer." Mr. Dunbar stood at the head of the coffin, and 
with characteristic frankness remarked to the surviving rela- 
tives of the deceased " that his body was before them, but 
his soul was in hell." We may well credit this story when 
we read the following selection from Mr. Dunbar's sermon on 
"the Premature Deaths of Several Young Persons:" — 

"And will you, can you, dare you, delay any longer in settling about 
the one Thing needful, — the Care and Salvation of your Souls? Tho' 
you are in your youthful Days, yet are you not old in Sin ? May it 
not be said truly of many of you. The Sin of the Young Men and 
Women is very great before the Lord? Are you not ripe for the 
Scythe of divine Justice to cut you down? And may not the Day of 
God's Patience, for aught you know, be just at an End with you? 
And because you have been often called upon, both by the Voice of 
God's Word and the Voice of his Providence, and have been often 
reproved, and all to no good Purpose, may not a holy God be pro- 
voked to destroy you suddenly and without Remedy? Oh, it is to be 
fear'd that your Judgment now of a long Time slumbereth not ! Where- 
fore, Oh, ye young People, who are now in a Christless Estate, and 
condemned already, because you believe not, and liable every Day, 
every Hour, every Moment, to be cut off by the Stroke of Deatli, and 
be sent down to the tremendous, intolerable, and endless Miseries and 
Torments of the Damned, make haste, escape for your Lives, Linger 
not ! Should you neglect to improve the present Time to prepare for 
Death, you may never be favoured with another Opportunity; you 
may be taken away with a sudden Stroke. And the same Blow that 
sends your Bodies to the Grave, may send your Souls to Hell. Oh, 
therefore, my dear young People, be wise for yourselves, be wise for 
Eternity ! Beg of God to bestow this Wisdom upon you." 


Mr. Dunbar was a temperate man, and wonderfully so, con- 
sidering the customs of the time in which he lived. Although 
he took a little wine for the stomach's sake, he was fond of 
preaching against " that cursed rum bottle." It was a favor- 
ite expression of his, and well known to all his parishioners. 
One day a neighbor of his was going to Boston, and Mr. Dun- 
bar intrusted him with an empty jug, with instructions as to 
the " particular vanity " with which it was to be filled. The 
neighbor did not return until it was dark, and the parson 
appeared at the front door with the candle in his hand, in 
order to expedite the unloading of the jug. No progress 
being made, the parson became impatient, and exclaimed, 
"What are you looking for?" . There was silence for an in- 
stant ; then the reply rang out sharp and clear on the night 
air, " That cussed rum bottle ! " 

The church, during the latter years of Mr. Dunbar's minis- 
try, received several gifts. Mr. Ebenezer Maudsley (Mostly), 
who died in 1739, gave by his will ;£'20 to the church. The 
aged Widow Tolman gave ;^5 in old tenor bills to purchase 
vessels for the table. Deacon Benjamin Blackman, a little be- 
fore his death, presented to the church two handsome pewter 
tankards; and on May 30, 1765, John Wentworth gave ;^so, 
old tenor, equal to £6 13J. 4d., lawful money, for the use of 
the church. John Boylston, a young blacksmith who died 
Sept. 8, 1775, by his will gave a legacy to the church. The 
year following, a committee, appointed for the purpose, re- 
ported that the Widow Anna (Payson) Boylston, whom he 
had married Jan. 6, 1774, "ought to receive ;^8 12s., and that 
Brother Nathaniel Fisher, executor of the will of her deceased 
husband, remit the same to her; and that this church expects 
that the executor will execute the will of John Boylston faith- 
fully according to the tenor of it, and hereby enjoin upon him 
so to do, as he will be answerable to this church." It was 
voted that the land given by Boylston be let out, and Dea- 
cons Dunbar and Gill ordered to take care of the rent for 
the benefit of the church. This land was called the church 
land; it consisted of six and one half acres on Chapman 


In the Canton Cemetery stands a portion of a stone with 
these letters : " d Sep * * * * the 32* year of his age." From 
the footstone marked "I. B.," its nearness to the grave of the 
infant son of John Boylston, who died about a month after 
his father, and from the fact that gravestones were provided 
and paid for by the executor, we judge it to be the grave- 
stone of John Boylston. 

During the latter years of Mr. Dunbar's ministry his record 
is mostly taken up with an account of the various ecclesiasti- 
cal councils in which he participated ; and the events of the 
home parish are not recorded as fully as in his earlier years. 
But the genealogist who desires to find the birth, baptism, 
marriage, or death of any person connected with the church 
while he was its pastor will have reason to bless him, for he 
was a model recorder ; and were all pastors as faithful in this 
respect as he, the history of our towns and families, and so of 
our State and country, would be more easily ascertained and 

Thus we come to the close of Mr. Dunbar's long ministry. 
From his sermons, his records, and from the traditions that 
have been handed down to us from his time, we are able to 
form an estimate of his life and character. Possessing the 
same bold, enterprising spirit which was the distinguishing 
characteristic of the men under whose care he had been edu- 
cated, and accustomed from his youth to contend with diffi- 
culties and hardships, he was well fitted for the trying epoch 
in which he was called to act. The people over whom he 
was invited to settle were not remarkable at this time for 
courtesy or urbanity. Estrangements existed among fami- 
lies, disagreements among neighbors; and the church itself 
had lately been distracted by intestine feuds. This state of 
affairs had culminated in the ejectment of the former pastor, 
who, being a man of mild disposition, had neither the will to 
command nor the strength to maintain his pastoral authority. 
Consequently, discipline had been neglected, church rules 
disobeyed, and a spirit of insubordination and defiance pre- 
vailed. To restore peace, to bring into harmony discordant 
natures, to heal the wounds of the past, and to curb the spirit 


of tlie unruly and rebellious, was the earnest endeavor which 
the second minister of this parish had continually to bear in 
mind. But it was a difficult task. It required a man of 
no ordinary prudence, fortitude, and perseverance. For the 
work Mr. Dunbar was eminently qualified. " The fear of 
man which bringeth a snare," was no part of his character. 
The existing disorders he resolved to correct ; and in spite 
of slander and falsehood he persevered with undeviating 
firmness in the rigid system he had adopted, nor could cal- 
umny or opposition divert him from the path of duty. Mr. 
Dunbar was not only a true representative of the early New 
England divine; he was more, — he was a leader; and upon 
his office the strongly marked individuality of his character 
was stamped. 

He Was a fine scholar, possessing a critical knowledge of 
Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. A ready composer and rapid 
thinker, he invented a stenography of his own, which les- 
sened the manual labor of the pen. His sermons were in 
the fashion of the day, — polemical, bristling with texts from 
the Scriptures, and ornamented with quotations from the 
original text, which were none the less effective because his 
simple parishioners could not comprehend them. He was a 
man of robust health ; and he boasts that for more than half 
a century he was not absent from his pulpit on account of 
sickness. He took a deep interest in municipal and provin- 
cial, as well as ecclesiastical matters, and had large influence 
by reason of his education, intelligence, and force of charac- 
ter. Nor could the narrow limits of his own town contain 
his reputation. His usefulness and influence were acknowl- 
edged far beyond the bounds of his own parish. His bold 
and persuasive eloquence obtained for him a high rank 
among his contemporaries; and his printed sermons on 
special occasions, still extant, are replete with vigor and 
sound learning. 

One of his sermons bears the number 8,059. The Rev. 
George F. Piper, in a discourse preached at the meeting-house 
in Canton in 1867, upon the one hundred and fiftieth anni- 
versary of the organization of the church, thus speaks of this 
sermon : — 


" It is numbered 8,059, ^n^ as it was written in the forty-ninth year 
of his ministry, he must have composed, on an average, no less than 
one hundred and sixty-four sermons a year, or a little more than three 
a week. He must have gone into the pulpit twice every Sunday, every 
Lecture Day, on every Thanksgiving, on every Fast, and not infre- 
quently on funeral occasions, during all these years, with a freshly 
written sermon. 

" If there is no mistake in the number, the second minister of this 
parish may be said, almost without hesitation, to have written more 
sermons than any other man that ever lived. Five thousand sermons, 
or one hundred a year for half a century, has sometimes been men- 
tioned as a prodigious number ; but in the case before us we have 
eight thousand and fifty-nine, and are to remember that their author 
continued to preach, and probably to write, for seven years more. 
There is reason to question whether the transcriber did not mistake 
the number." 

For my own part, I do not believe there was any error in 
the count. We must remember that Priest Dunbar was a 
pupil of Cotton Mather, and that Cotton Mather considered 
his father. Increase Mather, " a princely preacher." Of him 
it is related that in addition to preaching twice on Sunday, 
and holding his ordinary lecture every Thursday, he preached 
thrice a week beside, — on Wednesday and Thursday, early 
in the morning, and on Saturday afternoon. He also held a 
daily lecture in his house ; and occasions frequently occurred 
when he would spend six hours " in the word and in prayer." 
On his voyage to this country, in company with three other 
clergymen, they generally had three sermons a day. In Cot- 
ton Mather's diary it is recorded that in one year he preached 
seventy-two sermons, kept sixty fasts and twenty vigils, and 
wrote fourteen books; his publications in all amounted to 
three hundred and eighty-two, some of them of huge dimen- 
sions. Samuel Hidden, of Tamworth, N. H., preached two 
hundred and sixty sermons each year for forty-five years, and 
one thousand funeral sermons, making twelve thousand seven 
hundred in all. 

But the writing of sermons was not the only duty of the 
minister of those days. There were parochial duties depend- 


ent on him : families must be visited ; the sick must be called 
upon ; confession must be made, and a time set apart for spe- 
cial intercession, meditation, and prayer. Again, if any diffi- 
culty arose in a neighboring parish, Mr. Dunbar's counsel was 
immediately sought; and it is affirmed that he was usually 
successful in promoting reconciliations. He sat as a member 
of fifty-three ecclesiastical councils, in most of which he took 
an active and distinguished part. A prodigious amount of 
labor, truly, the early divines of this country performed. 
During Mr. Dunbar's long ministry he baptized 1,703, mar- 
ried 690 couples, and attended 682 funerals; and as it was 
the custom of our ministers for more than a century after the 
first settlement to have discourses preached at marriages as 
well as funerals, we can well see on what occasions the 8,059 
sermons were delivered. 

Aside from the arduous duties which ecclesiastical matters 
imposed upon him, Mr. Dunbar, like most of the clergymen 
of his time, was a patriot. In provincial times he was a Loy- 
alist, stanch and firm. He considered obedience to his king 
as a portion of his religion; and he expounded the duties of 
patriotism with zeal and fervor. Nor was his the cheap patriot- 
ism of words. In 1745 he asked for leave of absence from his 
pulpit to become chaplain in a regiment about to be sent with 
his Majesty's army to Louisburg. For some reason his re- 
quest was denied ; and he was obliged to content himself with 
remaining at home. But during this time his firm and steady 
attachment to his king, and his resolute and indefatigable en- 
deavors for the prosperity and honor of his country, attracted 
the notice of the government; and in 1755 he went to the 
field as chaplain in one of his Majesty's regiments, com- 
manded by Colonel Brown, of Sudbury, then going on an 
expedition against the French at Crown Point. And on 
November 18 of the same year we find him encamped on 
the shore of Lake Champlain, at the time " the great earth- 
quake " visited that place. 

At a later period, when the oppressive acts of the British 
Parliament had forfeited all claims to loyaltv, we read that 
Parson Dunbar, by his zeal and firmness in the cause of free- 


dom, and his unwavering confidence in the Divine assistance 
and blessing, even in the darkest hours and under the most 
forbidding aspects of the war, contributed much to support 
the hopes and sustain the sinking spirits of those who were 
contending in so unequal a contest. 

He lived to see the war close triumphantly, and the return 
of peace. At the celebration held in Stoughton in honor of 
that event, on the 2d of June, 1783, he was present and 
offered a public prayer. This was his last public service. 
How fitting that his long and useful life should have such 
a glorious conclusion ; that in that sanctuary where he had 
ministered for over half a century, he should for the last 
time lift his voice in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty 
God for the return of peace and the establishment of na- 
tional freedom ! 

In less than two weeks, those who rejoiced with him in the 
priceless gift of liberty had their joy turned to sorrow to 
learn that he who had ministered to them in spiritual things 
for fifty-six years was no more. His strong faith in God, his 
patient resignation to the divine will under the pains of an 
excruciating disorder, proved that faith in the religion of 
Christ, which all his life he had recommended to others, was 
to him a sheet-anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, a solace 
in the hour of death, surpassing the treasures and pleasures 
of this fleeting world. 

At the close of a Sabbath day in the month of June, Mr. 
Dunbar's relatives and friends assembled around his death- 
bed. As the shades of evening approached, his pulse became 
slower and his breath shorter; he was in the utmost distress, 
panting for breath, tossing from one side of the bed to the 
other. In answer to an inquiry by an affectionate friend, his 
reply was, in the words of Polycarp, " I have served a good 
Master, and he has not forsaken me." Thus passed from earth 
the second minister of this town. He was buried on the i8th 
day of June. Certain of his contemporaries and friends as- 
sembled at the old parsonage and from its portals bore, with 
reverent sorrow, his body to the grave. His friends, Adams 
of Stoughton, Curtis of Sharon, Robbins of Milton, Taft of 


Randolph, Wild of Braintree, Chickering, Thacher, and Haven 
of Dedham, acted as pall-bearers. The day succeeding his 
death, the precinct voted that they would bear all the ex- 
pense and make the necessary provision for his funeral. For 
this he had himself provided, " except the Parish will for my 
long and constant and, I hope, faithful ministry and labors 
among them be so generous as to do it." The Rev. Jason 
Haven, pastor of the First Church in Dedham, delivered an 
appropriate and just funeral sermon. From a copy before 
me I select the following estimate of Mr. Dunbar's character 
as given by his friend and contemporary. The reverend gen- 
tleman took his text from Num. xxiii. lo, — " Let me die the 
death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." 

" Though I am not fond of funeral eulogia, yet silence on the re- 
moval of one eminently pious and useful in the church of Christ might 
be censurable. I wish I was better able to do justice to his character 
and memory. 

" The great Author of Nature was pleased to endow him with very 
good mental powers. These being brightened and improved by a 
learned education, united to a firm and happy constitution of body, 
and sanctified by God's grace, fitted him to discharge with dignity and 
usefulness the duties of the Christian and ministerial character. He 
shone with distinguished lustre in the orb in which He who holdeth 
the stars in His right hand was pleased to fix him. Not only this 
society and this town, but the neighboring ones, have seen and felt 
the radiance and influence of this ' burning and shining light.' He 
was a zealous defender of what he took to be ' the faith once deUv- 
ered to the saints.' He treated much on what have been called the 
peculiar doctrines of grace ; these he considered as doctrines ac- 
cording to godliness. And he constantly maintained it as a faithful 
saying that they who believe in Jesus should be careful to perform 
good works. He knew the great design of preaching too well, and 
pursued it with too much fidelity, to give in to the practice of which 
some are so fond, — the practice of entertaining people with the 
subtleties of metaphysics, which tend rather to amuse or perplex than 
to impress the conscience, mend the heart, and reform the life. As he 
meant always to be understood, he used great plainness of speech. A 
more courageous and faithful reprover of vice, both in public and 
private, perhaps hath never been known among us. He complied 








with the direction given to the prophet, ' Cry aloud ; spare not ; lift up 
thy voice like a trumpet, to show my people their transgressions and 
their sins.' He was, on proper occasions, a Son of Thunder, endeav- 
oring, by the terrors of the law, to awaken secure and hardened sin- 
ners, to point out to them the dreadful danger of a course of sin and 
impenitency. But he knew how happily to change his voice, and to 
become a Son of Consolation, and by the soft and winning charms of 
the gospel to lead weary souls to Christ for rest, and to comfort those 
that are cast down. 

" He was diligent, laborious, and fervent in his work, and did not in 
his public services offer to the Lord that which cost him nothing ; 
but giving himself to reading, meditation, and prayer, brought into the 
sanctuary what he used to speak of by the term of beaten oil ; i. e. 
well-studied and well-connected discourses, adapted to the several 
ages, characters, and circumstances of his people, and to the present 
aspects of divine Providence. You of this society, I trust, are wit- 
nesses to the fidelity and tenderness with which he performed the 
more private parts of ministerial duty, — visiting the sick ; counselling, 
instructing, and comforting them ; praying with and for them ; en- 
deavoring to speak a word in season to them, and to help them to 
a proper improvement of the dispensations of Providence. How he 
exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you as a father 
does his children ! 

" And did not his life and conversation happily correspond to his 
doctrine and instruction? Are ye not witnesses, and God also, 'how 
holily and justly and unblamably he behaved himself among you'? 
He was a lover and promoter of peace, diligent and skilful in his 
endeavors to quench the coals of beginning strife before they kindled 
into a iiame. 

" How steady a friend, how warm an advocate, was he for civil and 
religious liberty, and the rights of mankind ! How firm a patriot in 
the struggle for freedom ! And it is remarkable that the last public 
service he performed in character of a minister, was to lead in your 
devout acknowledgments to God, for espousing the cause of America, 
establishing our independence, and restoring to us the blessing of 
peace. He was a friend to the order, discipline, and government of 
the New England churches called Congregational. He was kind and 
helpful to them and to his brethren in the ministry, and often in- 
vited to counsel and advise in matters of difficulty. Though he had 
much warmth and fire in his temper and constitution, yet it was not 



an ignis-fatuus. He could not be justly called an enthusiast in re- 
ligion, as he happily tempered his zeal with meekness and prudence. 

" He was honored with long life and usefulness, and was perhaps an 
unparalleled instance of carrying on ministerial labors without being 
interrupted by any bodily infirmity, for the space of fifty-three years 
from the time of his settlement. But the best constitutions must fail 
at length. The prophets do not Uve forever. He, after serving God in 
the gospel of his Son for more than fifty-five years, now rests from 
his labor. He died, we doubt not, the death of the righteous, — a 
death attended with hope, peace, and safety. His last sickness, which 
was very painful, he bore with much patience and submission to the 
divine will. He viewed the approaches of his change with Christian 
calmness and fortitude ; he appeared willing to depart and be with 
Christ. This account of the state of his mind I have from those who 
were with him in his last days and hours. He has gone, we trust, to 
receive the reward of a faithful servant ; and ' having turned many to 
righteousness,' of which we hope he hath been instrumental, ' to shine 
as the brightness of the firmament, and as a star forever and ever.' 

" ' And Samuel died, and all the Israelites lamented him and buried 
him in his house at Ramah.' " 

His grave lies on the left-hand side of Central Avenue as 
you enter the cemetery by the western gateway ; and the head- 
stone bears this inscription : — 


hie est corpus Rev di Samuelis Dunbar 

EcclesiiB Stoughtonensis prima 

Per L V annorum spacium Pastoris vigilantissimi 

Viri plane integerrimi 

Concionatoris eximii 


Paritus ac Libertali Eruditione 


Qui obiit in Domino jfune XV 


Et etatis suce LXXIX 

The old parsonage, in which three generations of Dunbars 
lived, was torn down in April, 1884. It stood on the north- 
erly side of what is now Chapman Street, formerly Dunbar's 


Lane. Its situation was pleasant, just far enough from the 
road to be secluded, yet near enough for the occupants to 
recognize distinctly the passers-by. Built in the fashion of 
the last century, it had two stories in front, and sloped gradu- 
ally almost to the ground in the rear. The front door within 
my remembrance was ornamented over the top with fanci- 
fully carved woodwork, shaped like the Greek Delta; two 
enormous chimneys protruded from its roof, the bricks of 
which were made from clay found in the Pecunit meadows. 
Near the mansion in early days stood the roomy chaise- 
house ; and here was stored, until the powder-house was 
built in 1809, the town's stock of ammunition. On the left 
of the house, as you faced it, was the well, over which 
swung the old sweep. From this well generation after gen- 
eration have drunk ; and the generations that will occupy the 
new unfinished house will continue to quaff its waters. In 
front of the house, and on the line of the modern highway, 
stands an ancient mulberry-tree, one of the largest of its kind, 
but now so dismantled and forlorn that its career is nearly 
run. The house faced nearly to the south ; and the westerly 
side was shadowed by a willow of magnificent circumference, 
which grew from a rod stuck into the ground by Wil- 
liam Downes in 1835. Entering, the visitor was struck by 
the quaint appearance of the rooms ; the old beams, sheathed 
with wood, protruded through the ceiling, and one could 
easily reach them by raising the arm. The panels of the 
doors were immense. At the back of one of the closets, on 
the lower floor, was a sliding-door ; by pushing up the slide 
a secret recess is revealed. 

The land on which the old house stood was purchased from 
the Ponkapoag Indians by John Withington, who erected a 
house upon it, which was standing as early as 1728. This 
same year he sold the property to Rev. Samuel Dunbar, 
who a few years after erected the building now removed. 
It was said to be the handsomest house between Boston 
and Providence. 

Parson Dunbar was a young man in those days, fresh from 
Harvard College, firm, courageous, unflinching. Look at 


him ! He has the appearance of one accustomed to com- 
mand and to be obeyed. He is dressed as befits his pro- 
fession, in the clerical manner of his day. His long black 
gown, his snow-white bands, his flowing gray wig, his black 
short-clothes, his knee and shoe buckles, bring up before us 
the clergymen who ministered to our ancestors in spiritual 
things when the Georges were on the throne. 

From this house he walked to his meeting-house, and 
looked, as we look to-day, upon the Blue Hills, and on the 
Pecunit valley at his feet. Stern gentleman, patriot, priest, 
and soldier that he was, he passed often through trial and 
tribulation, but he never faltered. His heart never failed him. 
He walked in the rugged path of duty for fifty-five years, 
cheered and encouraged his fiock, and helped them to carry 
the burdens of daily life. If the Lord crowned the year with 
his goodness, or if Governor Bernard sailed away; if they 
wept when " four persons were removed by a terrible fever 
within a month," — the pastor and the people rejoiced or 
wept together, and he always preached a sermon suitable 
to the occasion. 

Bancroft speaks of his prayer at the Doty tavern, in 
Canton, where the first Suffolk County Congress was held, 
in 1774. When the British fleet under Lord Howe was 
reported off the coast, meditating a descent on Boston, he 
prayed that God would " put a bit in their mouths, and 
jerk them about, send a strong northeast gale, and dash 
them to pieces on Cohasset Rock." Again, in a season of 
great anxiety, he prayed that God would let the Redcoats 
return to the land whence they came, " for Thou knowest, 
O God, that their room is better than their company." 

He died June 15, 1783. He gave to his son Elijah the 
old homestead, " to requite him for all his dutiful tenderness 
and care of me in my old age." Elijah was born on the 
2d of September, 1740. He graduated at Harvard College 
in the class of 1760; two years later he placed an addition 
on the westerly side of the old house, and brought thither 
Sarah Hunt, his young bride. He was a different man from 
his father, more a man of the world; his appearance was 


commanding and majestic, a trifle too portly. Some still 
living can remember him. He wore a drab coat, with long 
and ample skirts, designed by John McKendry, who was fa- 
miliar with the latest Boston style ; under this a long waist- 
coat. His legs were clothed with breeches fastened at the 
knees with buckles; below, stockings of home-manufacture, 
which, on his visits to Boston or on grand occasions, were 
exchanged for silk hose. I found an old shoe-buckle in the 
garret of the old house ; it may have been one that assisted 
to complete his wardrobe; it may have belonged to his 
father. In early life Elijah wore his hair uncut; but on the 
1 6th of February, 1773, he records in his diary that he cut it 
off and purchased a " bobb wig." In the latter part of his 
life his head was ornamented with a gray wig with puffs, still 
preserved as an heirloom; surmounting this was a broad- 
brimmed hat. 

In his youthful days he skated on Ponkapoag Pond, he 
hunted bees, he caught trout, he shot squirrels, he went to 
huskings, and he went to " sings." The last were his de- 
light; he taught the first singing-school in the town, and I 
believe that he started the first musical society in the coun- 
try. He was for many years President of the Stoughton 
Musical Society. He established the first library in Canton. 
As he grew older he wrote the wills, the indentures, the deeds, 
and appraised estates and surveyed land for his neighbors. 
He was appointed on Feb. 4, 1768, by Governor Bernard, a 
justice of the peace ; and he never forgot, whether he led 
the singing in his father's meeting-house, presided over the 
town meetings, or sat in the halls of legislation, that he was 
an officer in the service of his Majesty the King; he ever 
preserved, even in the days that tried men's souls, the self- 
poise and dignity which so distinguished the provincial gen- 
tleman. The blood of the Stoughtons and the Danforths was 
in his veins, and from them he received a large tract of land 
in the Nipmuck country ; for ready money, he had only to 
write a deed of a farm in Charlton. During his day the 
old mansion was the abode of hearty hospitality, as it had 
been in the day of his father; but no longer did the ancient 


divines come to discuss the " essentials and non-essentials." 
Now came the veterans of the French War. Here jovial 
Thomas Doty told of his adventures at the dark and dreary 
period of the French and Indian War, when he crossed Lake 
Ontario at the head of his regiment, and threw himself upon 
the bulwarks of Fort Frontenac, to be rewarded with victory. 
Here came Edmund Quincy, son of Judge Edmund and 
Dorothy Quincy, whose daughter was to marry John Han- 
cock. Here also came Roger Sherman, signer of the Decla- 
ration of Independence, who made annual visitations to the 
home of his boyhood ; and here came to unite in the dear 
old songs the sweetest of all singers, William Billings. Here 
" Master " Lem Babcock and James Beaumont sang. Here 
Capt. William Patrick, one of Dunbar's neighbors, sat by the 
open fireplace and chatted over pipe and cider-mug. Little 
did he dream that the savages under Brant would one day 
murder him with a cruelty too atrocious to describe. An- 
other neighbor. Col. Benjamin Gill, who had commanded 
a regiment at the surrender of Burgoyne, came one day 
dressed in his blue coat, light under-clothes, and cocked hat 
to invite Dunbar to be present at a dinner he was to give 
his officers on the anniversary of the famous surrender. 
Here came young Aaron Bancroft, to sit in the chair of the 
old Calvinistic minister, and to overset in the mind of the son 
the doctrinal teachings of a lifetime. After the Revolution 
a frequent guest was Col. Jonathan Eddy. He used to walk 
down from Sharon, breakfast, and then ride into Boston with 
Dunbar to attend the sitting of the General Court. In 175S 
he had raised a company for the reduction of Canada, which 
had been attached to the regiment of Col. Thomas Doty. 
In 1759-60 he was stationed at Fort Cumberland; in 1776 
he was at General' Washington's headquarters at Cambridge ; 
in 1777 he was in command of the forces at Machias when 
that place was beset by the enemy. 

Richard Gridley, well known to William Pitt, friend of 
Amherst, companion of Earl St. Vincent and Cook the navi- 
gator, and later, friend of Washington, Warren, and Hancock, 
the man who planned the fortifications on Bunker Hill, the 


veteran of three wars, lived in Canton, and many a night he 
was a visitor at the old parsonage. The two sieges of Louis- 
burg, the scaling of the Heights of Abraham, the battle of 
Bunker Hill, formed a story which, if these old walls could 
speak, would be as thrilling as any in the annals of our coun- 
try. Here came in the flush of youth Benjamin Bussey, full 
of his adventures as quartermaster in the Revolutionary War. 
He was to live a life of gilded misery, give to Harvard Col- 
lege what must now amount to a million dollars, because he 
could not carry it with him, and to the HoUis Street Church 
a set of the ten commandments, because he could not keep 
them. Strangest of all, here came young men in search of 
the philosopher's stone, swearing at the midnight hour to 
conceal from the vulgar " such alchemical secrets as they 
should receive in pursuit of the Grand Elixir." 

When the Revolution broke out, the old parson and his 
son were some time divided in political sentiments. The old 
man, as I have shown, was at the first meeting in the county 
held to oppose British tyranny. He continued active in the 
patriot cause, and during the entire duration of the war volun- 
tarily relinquished one half his pay. The young man was in 
doubt; his career was beginning; he must weigh well the 
probabilities of the result. His uncle, Samuel Danforth, the 
short-time mandamus councillor of the king, assured him that 
if he acted with the rebels, he would certainly lose his office 
of justice of the peace, and he might lose what was far dearer 
to him, — his head. This was the time Daniel Leonard 
chose to appear on the scene. He came most inoppor- 
tunely to the door of the old manse as never a man came 
before or since. If we may believe the description John 
Adams gives us, he drove up with a chariot and pair ; upon 
his head he wore a three-cornered hat, around which was a 
broad band of gold lace ; his cloak glittered with laces still 
broader, and flunkies in livery were perched on box and 
rumble, who alighted at his slightest word, — this was the 
outward show. Within that gilded luxury there sat a man of 
wonderful attractiveness, a man of the most brilliant intellect, 
but a notorious conspirator, a scholar, a lawyer, an orator. 


the author, long kept secret, of those famous letters signed 
" Massachusitensis." To all these qualities of mind were 
added a most winning address and a manner which charmed 
and controlled a listener. Over and above all, a long and 
tender friendship, dating back to their college life, existed 
between these two men. Their tastes were similar ; Leonard 
and Dunbar had lodged together at the Doty tavern as early 
as 1767; and Leonard never drove from Taunton, to Boston 
without stopping at Canton. Once he passed a Sunday with 
Dunbar, and sat in the minister's pew in the old meeting-house. 
But the fascinations of wealth, intellect, and even friendship 
failed to convince Dunbar ; and this short-timed mandamus 
councillor, this future Chief-Justice of Bermuda, who was to 
wander over the world banished and in exile, to die in a 
foreign city by the accidental discharge of a pistol in his own 
hand, was obliged to leave Dunbar without having won him 
to the cause of the king. 

Possibly the arguments of Leonard and Danforth rendered 
Dunbar less enthusiastic in the patriot cause than he would 
otherwise have been. As the agitation increased, and the 
sentiment of province, and town crystallized into a firm and 
decided purpose to resist, at all hazards, the unjust demands 
of the mother country, Elijah Dunbar cast his lot with his 
neighbors, and assisted his townspeople; but the hesitation 
and delay had injured him, and rendered him an object of 
suspicion. That his conduct was remembered, I learn from 
the opening lines of a doggerel that did not appear until the 
war was over : — 

" A stands for Adams and Administration ; 
B stands for Baker, who gave the oration ; 
C stands for Capen, for Crane, and Cockade ; 
D stands for Dunbar, that old Tory blade ; 
E stands for Eagle, the sign of the inn ; 
F stands for Federal, who went to drink gin." 

This line was unfair ; for his procrastination he had nobly 
atoned. During the ordeal of the Revolution, the occupant 
of the old parsonage was a zealous patriot: he was town 
treasurer; he procured soldiers; he built near his house a 


building for the manufacture of saltpetre; he was one of 
the committee to carry on the salt-works at Squantum, also 
appointed to " take cognizance of those who had been un- 
friendly to the common cause." In 1782 he was one of the 
Committee of Safety and Correspondence, and a member of 
the General Court. In 1789 he was elected senator. One 
who knew him said of him, " He was a faithful sentinel, ever 
watchful of the rights and liberties of his constituents, and 
ready to give the alarm should any infringement of the same 
be attempted." 

He was possessed of great mathematical talents, which he 
undoubtedly inherited from the Rev. John Danforth, and 
observed the transit of Venus on June 3, 1769. He aston- 
ished the loafers about Blackman's shop on the morning of 
June 24, 1778, by telling them the exact moment when the 
eclipse of the sun would begin ; it was, said he, " as I had 
projected it." On the i6th of June, 1806, he writes, "Fair 
and serene view of y° total eclipse of y' sun, — a grand and 
sublime spectacle." He lies buried in the family lot in the 
old burying-ground, and the following is the inscription on 
his gravestone : — 

M. S. 

Here rests in the hope of the resurrection of the just the earthly 
remains of the Hon. Elijah Dunbar Esq. who deceased, Oct. 25th, 
1814, aetatis 75. — Long known in the walks of public life, by the suf- 
frages of his fellow citizens often elevated to offices of honor and 
trust, and for many years sustaining the office of Deacon in the church 
of Christ in this place. — 

While weeping friends bend o'er his silent tomb 
Recount his virtues and their loss deplore 
Faith's piercing eye, darts through the dreary gloom 
And hails him blest, where tears shall flow no more. 

Beati Domino Morientes, 
Rev. 14 : — 13. 

One morning in May, 1777, the occupants of the old house 
received from the post-rider a large square, folded letter, which 
read as follows : — 


" I condole with you on occasion of the perplexity and unhappiness 
of the present times ; and when they will be better, God only knows. 
The present aspect of things, if reports may be depended on, seem to 
presage times near at hand more difficult and distressing. Under 
an appreciation that the Town of Boston may be invaded by the 
enemy, soldiers are ordered to be raised for its defense, and some 
of the inhabitants are sending some of their most valuable effects into 
the country ; and I have thought it advisable to do the like with re- 
spect to some part of my goods, lest in case the town should be in- 
vaded, bombarded, and set on fire, I should lose the whole ; and 
whereas I do not think of a more safe and secure place whereat to 
lodge them than at your house, I would request of you the favor 
to receive two or three trunks into your house, if it may be done with- 
out incommoding of you. I will send them by the first safe convey- 
ance ; and if you will yield to my request, I pray that you will signify 
it in a line to me ; and if you should know of any one of your neigh- 
bors coming to Boston with a cart, in whom we may confide for a 
safe conveyance, that you would be so good as to desire him to call 
at my lodgings in Hanover Street, near the head of Wing's Lane, at 
the house directly opposite Mr. Benjamin Holloway's great brick 

This letter was addressed, " The Rev. Mr. Samuel Dunbar," 
and was signed by the Tory, Samuel Danforth, who had been 
a member of his Majesty's council for more than thirty-five 
years, and was appointed by the king in 1774 one of the 
mandamus councillors. On the ist of September of the same 
year, an excited mob from the adjacent towns poured into 
Cambridge, and Mr. Danforth was compelled to announce 
from the Court-House steps that he had resigned, or would 
resign, his seat at the council-board. Whether the parson- 
age became a receptacle for goods that might otherwise have 
been confiscated, I have no information. 

The first child born to Elijah Dunbar was Mary, who mar- 
ried John Spurr ; they removed to Charlton, where he became 
one of its most influential men. On the 24th of November, 
1765, Samuel was born; he married Sarah Davenport and 
also went to Charlton. On June 14, 1768, John Danforth 
was born. He graduated at Harvard in 1789, became a 


lawyer, and settled at Plymouth, where he died Feb. 21, 181 1. 
His son returned to Canton, and his grandson is still living 
among us. 

On Dec. 14, 1769, Sally was born; and on the 25th of June, 
1773, the father wrote in his diary: "27th, Poor Sally laid 
in y" grave ; a solemn day ; may I never forget it ! " 

On the 7th of July, 1773, a boy was born, who was bap- 
tized on the 1 8th by his grandfather; he bore the scriptural 
name of his father, Elijah. When the boy had grown to 
early manhood, it was decided that he should walk in the 
steps of his grandfather, the builder of the house. His 
studies were finished at Harvard in 1794, where his father 
and grandfather had been before him. With high aspirations 
he set out on the morning of his life. He was ordained in 
the ministry at Peterborough, N. H., Oct. 23, 1799, declaring 
frankly to the council his dissent from the Trinitarian creed ; 
here he grew " old and not rich," having expended in addi- 
tion to his salary a handsome patrimonial estate among his 
people. He often returned to the old home. One of the 
entries in his diary says, " Find all in health save one, — 
Deo opt. max. laus." He died Sept. 3, 1850. 

On July 25, 1775, Thomas was born. He married Chloe 
Bent, May 21, 1804, and took his father's place as deacon of 
the church, and his children and grandchildren remain in 
town at the present day. On Feb. 13, 1778, came Dorothy, 
who married Joseph Hewins; and Aug. 15, 1780, William 
the lawyer, who was to live in the old house, and " shut the 
door" of the family. On Aug. 11, 1784, Hannah was born; 
and she married in due time Richard Wheatly. Lastly came 
James, Feb. 2, 1787, who married Sarah, daughter of Adam 
and Sarah (Leonard) Kinsley, and resided in this town until 
his death, April 19, 1867, — a man of great influence, for 
many years filling offices of public trust, President of the 
Neponset Bank ; a man sound and careful in judgment, of 
exemplary character, and during his long life universally 

Members of the family of Dunbar lived in the house nearly 
to the middle of this century. 


I once found in the garret some ancient papers, — those of 
Jeremiah Gridley, "the Webster of his day," as Judge Gard- 
ner calls him, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge ; and of 
General Richard Gridley, his brother. They contained no 
items of great historical value. 

An ancient Boston "News Letter," bearing the date 1755, 
having an interesting report of the operations under Sir 
William Johnson, signed by him, was exhumed by the Canton 
Historical Society on Fast Day, 1884, when they met in the 
old house to say good-by to it. 

The old house, filled with so many sad and pleasant memo- 
ries, has gone. What scenes of joy and sorrow its old-fash- 
ioned rooms have witnessed ! Troops of children have played 
on the lawn in front of the mansion, or looked out with child- 
ish pleasure from its old-fashioned windows, into which the 
sun shone on pleasant days. Old farmers have driven up to 
the door and delivered their share of the stipulated winter's 
firewood. Here old-fashioned quilting-bees, donation and 
husking parties, have been held. Only think of the eight 
thousand sermons that were produced under this roof! 
What quantities of good old rum and " Old October " have 
been drunk on the premises ! Think of the bashful boys 
and blushing girls that have been united for life by the old 
parson ! Think of the backsliders that have been admon- 
ished, the ungodly that have been threatened, by the old 
pastor in that room in the southeast corner of the second 
story which was his study! Think of the ponderous old 
volumes of musty theology that once stood on the book- 
cases, now condescending to hold " Massachusetts Reports " 
in place of " The Doctrine of the Saints " and " Perseverance 
Explained and Confirmed " ! Here was the first folio pub- 
lished in America, — Willard's " Body of Divinity ; " here also 
were Fox's " Martyrs " and Baxter's " Saint's Everlasting 
Rest; " and — mention it not to bibliophiles — this old house 
once contained a copy of Mather's " Magnalia." I have one 
of the gems of this now scattered collection. It is a quaint 
old bound volume of sermons which Rev. Samuel Dunbar 
bought at the auction of Rev. Nathaniel Clapp, of Newport, 


in 1746. I bought it at an auction in 1882. It has auto- 
graphs of both its former owners. 

Within these walls was once deposited probably the best- 
selected and most valuable collection of music-books in the 
country at that time. We quote a few of the titles : " Hol- 
yoke Repository," " Massachusetts Compiler," " Royal Har- 
mony," " Musical Magazine," " Holden's Union Harmony," 
" Harmony of Maine," " Harmony of Harmony," " Harmon- 
ica Americana," " Royal Melody," " Evangelical Harmony," 
" Anthems," " William Billing's Singers' Amusement," " Sacred 
Minstrels," " Robertson's Anthems," " Norfolk Harmony," 
" Oriental Harmony," " Dirges," " West Boston and Brattle 
street Music," " Select Music in MS." 

The old clock, made by the best maker of his time, bears 
on its face the name of Simon Willard, also that it was made 
for Elijah Dunbar, Esq. ; over the moons appear periodically 
a sinking ship, bearing the red flag with the conjoined crosses 
of Saint George and Saint Andrew. Utterly oblivious to the 
changes in dynasties or flags, it still keeps honest time. 

Let us not forget the sainted dead that have been carried 
out from under the old-fashioned doorway, which yesterday 
was, and to-day is not, borne to the graveyard on the hilL 
where the earliest settlers lie, and placed with their kith and 
kin. The gravestones tell us they lie there in the hope of a 
glorious resurrection in the house not made with hands. 

" We may build more splendid habitations, 
Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures, 

But we cannot 
Buy with gold the old associations." 




THE first tavern in what is now Canton was kept by Gil- 
bert Endicott. The house was standing in 1700, and, 
tradition says, was situated directly in front of the house now 
occupied by George F. Capen, at the junction of Washington 
and Chapman streets. The cellar-hole can be seen distinctly 
to this day, although it was called " y^ old cellar hole" in 1727. 
This tavern was running in 1702, when Mr. Endicott had 
neglected to take out a license, and was obliged to recognize 
to the court for good behavior in the future. He continued 
to keep this inn until 1707, when Daniel Morey appeared as 
landlord, and so continued until 1710. Mr. Endicott was 
absent in Boston, where his brothers William and John were 
innholders, and where he also kept an inn on Orange Street 
from June, 1709, to 171 1. In 1713 he was again at his ancient 
tavern, and entertained Judge Sewall, who baited at his house 
on the 15th of September, 1716, about a month before Endi- 
cott's death. 

Sewall says in 1 709, " From Morey's at Ponkapog to Taun- 
ton, over the new road, rode fourteen miles without seeing a 

John Vose, who was the son of Edward and grandson of 
Robert, was born Nov. 20, 1676. He established his tavern 
on the site now occupied by the old-fashioned hip-roofed 
house built by Capt. John Billings, still standing at the corner 
of Washington Street and the private way leading to Draper's 
woollen mill, sometimes called Vose's Lane. 

The exact time at which Vose began business in Can- 
ton is not known ; but James Blake, when on Moose Hill in 
1714, observes, " Punkepog via Voses, N. E. 56° and little." 


That he was " purvayor " at the ordination of Rev. Joseph 
Morse, our first minister, in 171 7, the ancient receipts bear 
witness. Benjamin Lynde, Chief-Justice of the province, 
stopped at Vose's on Sabbath Day, Sept. 7, 1718. He at- 
tended sermon, and after supper proceeded to, and lodged 
at, Mrs. Billings's. In 1720 he again visits Vose's, and with 
the landlord and Mr. " Fenner " crossed over about five miles 
to the Roebuck Tavern, then kept by Nathaniel Kingsbury, 
where the Chief-Justice treated them to a quart of Madeira. 
Whether the judge heard any scandalous stories about " the 
keeping of ninepins," or the " allowing of gameing," he does 
not state ; but Mr. Vose was accused of such misdemeanors, 
summoned before the court, and honorably acquitted, but 
had to pay the costs of court. In 1727 Vose asserted that he 
" has kept a tavern in Stoughton for diverse years past with- 
out any interruption ; " nevertheless, he seems to have had the 
weakness of other landlords, and was that year fined ;^io for 
selling strong drink without a license; again in 1733, now 
promoted to captain, he sold drink without a license, and was 
accordingly fined. 

On Sept. 4, 1730, the Chief-Justice was again at Vose's. 
Three years afterward he dined and lodged there, and spent 
the evening with the Rev. Samuel Dunbar. The next day 
being Sunday, he went to church and received the sacrament 
Sept. 20, 1734, he supped at Vose's and dined on salmon 
trout. He heard Mr. Dunbar preach, noted down an ex- 
tract from his sermon, contributed fifteen shillings, and the 
next morning departed, having paid Mrs. Hewins for his 
horse, lodging, etc., twenty-six shillings. Mr. Vose died this 
year, and probably Mrs. Benjamin Hewins, his daughter, who 
subsequently married Samuel Cutter, was in charge. 

In 1732 the warrants for town meeting were posted at the 
public-house " nighest to the Meeting House." 

Sarah Clapp, who on the 3d of July, 1700, became the 
good wife of the captain, was buried March 9, 1733 ; and on 
July 15, 1734, the captain was himself interred, — not, how- 
ever, without remembering the church in his will. When he 
had been dead about a month, Mr. Dunbar called a special 


church meeting for the purpose of informing the brethren 
that Captain Vose had by his last will and testament be- 
queathed to the Church of Christ £?.o, to purchase a piece 
of plate. 

Some years ago I copied the inscription on Captain Vose's 
gravestone. Since then the frost has split the stone vertically, 
and no trace of the carving remains ; the footstone, however, 
stands, with the initials and date upon it. 

After the death of Captain Vose, his estate was purchased 
by Ebenezer Maudsley (Mosely), son of Thomas and Mary 
(Lawrence), who was born Sept. 4, 1673. In 1736, Chief- 
Justice Lynde, while performing his official duties, again put 
up at the old tavern. His lodging cost him twenty shillings, 
and five shillings more he distributed among the servants. It 
is a singular coincidence that Ebenezer Maudsley, who pur- 
chased Vose's estate, was also a benefactor to the church. 
Mr. Dunbar records his burial as follows: "Aug. 3, 1740. — 
This day Mr. Ebenezer Mosely, our neighbor, an inhabitant 
of Stoughton, was interred at Dorchester. In his will he has 
given £20 to this church." 

In 1743 the heirs of Maudsley sold the estate to Capt. 
John Billings, who lived on it till his death, April 3, 1786, 
when it passed to his son Frederic, and a portion of this large 
farm is still owned by the descendants of John Billings. 

Another benefactor of the church figures in connection 
with this old tavern. One Sunday morning, more than a 
hundred years ago, a party of young men assembled here. 
As the hours passed by, they drank freely, and in the course 
of the night reached the noisy stage of inebriation. The 
sound of their unseemly hilarity reached the ears of Mr. 
William Wheeler, who held the office of tithing-man, and 
whose duty it was to see that the laws against Sabbath- 
breaking were enforced. He accordingly procured his staff 
of office, and made a descent upon the tap-room of the tav- 
ern. Upon making known his errand, he was greeted with 
shouts of derision. He then, by the authority in him vested, 
ordered the Sabbath-breakers to disperse. Whereupon he 
was bound by the midnight revellers, and a glass of hot 


toddy poured down his throat. He resisted vigorously, but 
it was of no use. Another glass was prepared, and he was 
obliged to swallow that. To this he did not object so strenu- 
ously as at the first. He was then unbound, and took the third 
of his own free will. Others followed in quick succession ; 
and the consequence was that the preserver of the public 
peace soon made more noise than all the rest, and was obliged 
to be carried home and put to bed by sOme of the more 
sober of the company. Nor was this the only fall from grace 
chargeable to this tavern. Preserved Tucker, whose name 
should have saved him, was disciplined by the church for 
excessive drinking, " being twice overtaken at Capt. Vose's, 
a public house." 

In 1723 James Endicott was licensed as a retailer; and as 
he brought in a bill in 1738 for "Rhum, sugar, and plums," 
it is fair to believe he continued in the business up to that 
time. He was licensed to sell " without doors ; " that is, to 
persons not guests of his house or inn. 

As early as 1730 there were many places where entertain- 
ment could be obtained for man and beast; and the town 
authorities considered these public-houses as the most ap- 
propriate places whereon to post the warrants for the annual 
town meetings. In 1722 Moses Curtis was an innholder. 
In 1745 Edward Wentworth had facilities for entertaining 
guests in Canton. 

The question of granting licenses came up in this town; 
and Samuel Billings, Daniel Talbot, Eleazer Robbins, The- 
ophilus Curtis, Benjamin Johnson, and Richard Stickney 
were granted the privilege to sell liquors. Several of our 
townsmen, however, " although they had no objection to the 
gentlemen above named, are still of the opinion that the 
multipHcation of such houses has been of ill consequence to 
the town in general, especially to youths and the unthinking 
part of the town ; " and they therefore prayed the selectmen 
that no more be licensed than had already been approved. 

Deacon Joseph Tucker, one of the first settlers of Canton, 
appears to have kept an inn in 1742 " on the common and 
most general road to Rhode Island;" how long I cannot 



say, — possibly thirty years, for he was Hving on that site 
that length of time, and he probably did not begin to keep 
an inn in the latter part of his hfe. It was situated very near 
the site where stands the Crane schoolhouse. Chief-Justice 
Lynda mentions stopping here at one time. 

After the death of the deacon, his widow, Susanna (Pelton) 
Tucker, continued the business, and finding she needed assist- 
ance, took into partnership, in a business and matrimonial 
way, Richard Stickney, who appears to have been the land- 
lord in 1757. 

From 1767 to 1787 this tavern was kept by Samuel Capen, 
who was born in 1745, and died Oct. 7, 1809. The fol- 
lowing extract from an old diary may or may not refer to 
the building of this house: "Sept. 3, 1757, Father at Mr. 
Capen's; Sam raises his house in the afternoon." In this 
tavern was born, May 27, 1777, his son Samuel, who was 
well known to the present generation, held many offices of 
trust in the town, and died in the house which he erected 
in 1849, at Canton Corner, Jan. 22, 1863. 

Samuel, the landlord of the old tavern, was not only a 
famous singer, but a composer as well. He was the author 
of a book containing some exquisite tunes, entitled, " Norfolk 
Harmony; " and at his house were often held the meetings of 
the singing-club. From the tavern at South Canton he 
removed to Pleasant Street, and lived on the place opposite 
the terminus of Sherman Street. Here he resided in 1794; 
from here he went to Canton Corner, living in the old house 
built by John Wentworth, Jr., until his death. Gen. Elijah 
Crane took possession of the old tavern soon after Capen left 
it, and was landlord from 1789 to 1800. Here on the 9th 
of January, 1797, were decided all matters pertaining to the 
separation of Canton from Stoughton. In granting his li- 
cense as an innholder, the selectmen declared that he was 
" of sober life and conversation, suitably qualified and pro- 
vided for such employment, and attached to the Con.stitution 
and laws of the Commonwealth." The committee on the 
fish business met at his tavern in 1795, and the following 
year the " Proprietors of the Common Field " met on the 
^5th of April, and chose their officers. 


We have seen that Chief-Justice Benjamin Lynde, on a hot 
day in August, 1720, invited his Canton friends over to the 
Roebuck to test the quality of Kingsbury's Madeira. Judge 
Sewall also mentions that he lodged there the same year. 
On Fast Day, 1883, the Canton Historical Society, leaving 
the "old Ark" in Norwood, followed the king's highway, 
leading to the Providence Plantations. On the site of the 
house where now resides Simon Gould in East VValpole, they 
found the cellar of the old tavern. The old walls were 
intact, and many of the timbers showed that they had once 
belonged to a much older edifice. 

On the site where stands the former residence of Dr. Ezra 
Abbot, there once stood a large house, erected by Jeremiah 
Ingraham, who came to this town from Attleboro' in 1 740, 
married Susanna, daughter of Deacon Joseph Tucker, and 
resided upon this farm until his death, which occurred Feb. 
ii> 1773) iti the ninetieth year of his age. He was a man 
of such prominence that this part of the town was known 
for many years as the Ingraham Neighborhood, the school 
near his house as the Ingraham Branch, and the corner of 
Washington and Neponset streets as Ingraham's Corner. 
His son Jeremiah married, Feb. 13, 175S, Abigail, daughter 
of Joseph Hartwell; and from this union are descended some 
of the most famous families in the annals of Maine, the Hon. 
Reuel Williams, United States Senator, and Joseph Hartwell 
Williams, Governor, being among the more distinguished. 
It was one of the places of meeting of the ancient musical 
society, and Elijah Dunbar makes frequent mention in his 
diary of a " sing at Ingraham's." 

Jeremiah Ingraham, after the death of his father, sold to 
Supply Belcher, in 1778, the " home farm," as he described 
it, lying on both sides of the Taunton road, containing on the 
west of the highway twenty-four acres, running from Billings 
Lane, now Neponset Street, to the land of Abijah Jones. 
The larger portion on the east side of the road contained 
over sixty acres, and extended from the Great Elm opposite 
Church Street to near the house now owned by Arthur C. 


Supply Belcher, the purchaser, commonly known as " Un- 
cle Ply," appears soon after he bought it to have opened a 
tavern, which on the map of 1785 is designated as Belcher's 
tavern. It probably was not kept by Belcher very long 
after this date. He was the son of Clifford Belcher, who was 
taken in such " a surprising manner" on the 23d of April, 1773, 
and died on the 26th. Supply was born on the borders of 
Canton, April 10, 1752. He removed to Augusta in 1785, 
thence to Farmington in 1791, which town he represented in 
the Legislature in 1798, 1799, 1801, 1802. He had a son, 
Hon. Hiram Belcher, who was a member of Congress. Sup- 
ply Belcher was a prominent member of the Stoughton 
Musical Society; often we see mention in old diaries of a 
" sing at Belcher's " while he was " mine host " of the tavern. 
In 1782 he and Elijah Dunbar, another famous singer, went 
to Commencement at Harvard, and enjoyed the musical part 
of the exercises. Nor was it alone as a singer that Supply 
Belcher was noted. He was a composer of no mean ability ; 
and in 1794, when he issued his "Harmony of Maine," the 
pieces contained in it were so excellent that they gained for 
their author the title of " The Handel of Maine." He died 
June 9, 1836. 

After the removal of Supply Belcher to Maine, the house 
was occupied by Capt. Thomas Crane, who resided here 
until his death, May 5, 1787. He was a brother of Major- 
Gen. Elijah Crane. The selectmen were accustomed to 
meet at Crane's and Smith's alternately during this period ; 
and a well-worn path existed from what is now the town farm 
to this tavern, crossing Pequit Brook near the bridge on 
Sherman Street. In 1788 Eunice Crane, the widow of Captain 
Thomas, advertised the house for sale, and said that it " has 
been improved for a tavern for many years." When Dr. 
Abbot purchased the place in 1836, the old tavern was de- 
molished, and such portions of it as were sound, used in the 
erection of the present house. 

Jonathan Leonard, commonly called "Quaker" Leonard, was 
a member of the Society of Friends. He built the southerly 
portion of the present Massapoag House in 1789, and occu- 


pied it as a private residence for many j'ears ; unsuccessful, 
however, in his business affairs, he was obliged to surrender 
the old house to his creditors. After he left town, the house 
was occupied by David Spaulding, who kept a public-house. 
In front of the tavern was the sign of a stage-coach with four 
horses attached. It was during his day that the Canton Ly- 
ceum flourished, and at his tavern their meetings were held. 
Spaulding left the tavern in 1834. He died June 12, 1838, 
aged thirty-eight years, and was buried in the Canton Ceme- 
tery; and James Bent, the soh of Capt. William Bent, the 
landlord of the Eagle Inn, took charge of the house. The 
old sign was replaced by one bearing the legend, "James 
Bent, 1834." A stage driven by the "Bent boys" made 
regular trips to Boston. Mr. Bent continued as landlord 
until his death, which occurred Feb. 3, 1847, o" which occa- 
sion Mr. Elijah Crane wrote from Savannah, "I regret to hear 
of the sudden demise of our old friend Bent. He was an 
honest man, which is the noblest work of God. Peace to his 
ashes ! " and Mr. Crane adds, " I am in better health than I 
was when I carted wood from Canton to Boston barefoot." 
We have pleasant recollections of this old tavern and Mr. 
Bent's kindness to little boys. The year following the death 
of Mr. Bent the tavern was in charge of his twin sons, 
Nathaniel and Elijah. Shortly afterward the old hostelry 
was altered by Mr. Lyman Kinsley. He remodelled the old 
house, raised it a story, and on the northerly side built a 
new hall. This hall was considered a very fine one in its 
day. Well do we remember its dedication, which took place 
Feb. J, 1848, when the following gentlemen acted as the 
managers of the ball on that evening: F. W. Lincoln, Lyman 
Kinsley, James S. Shepard, Vernon A. Messinger, Ezra 
Abbot, Charles H. French, William Tucker, C. W. Marden, 
Uriah Billings, Oliver Deane, S. B. Noyes, Ellis Tucker, 
William Tucker, 2d, A. O. Sinclair, Alonzo Kinsley, J. Mason 
Everett. The name " Massapoag," which was given to the 
hotel at this time, has been retained to the present day. For 
some years, under the care of Mr. Stetson, it was a first-class 
country hotel. Many families came from Boston to spend 


the summer here; but after Stetson left it, it deteriorated, 
the smoke from the forge was in certain directions of the 
wind disagreeable, and it gradually descended from a second 
to a third class house of entertainment. 

In the old hall have been held some of the liveliest politi- 
cal meetings that have been seen in a country town. For 
many years it was our only dance-hall ; and here were wit- 
nessed the last of those old-time contra-dances, now gone by. 
No more the vision of Mrs. Sinclair as she " took the steps," 
or Nathaniel Bent as he cut the " pigeon's wing," will glad- 
den our eyes; but the recollections of the happy nights 
passed in the old hall will linger in the memory till time with 
us shall be no more. 

At the southeast corner of Washington and Pleasant streets 
stood, during the Revolution, May's tavern. The old well, 
sixty feet deep, now covered by a large flat stone, may still 
be seen under the catalpa-trees, which were brought from 
Georgia. Before the days of the Aqueduct Company this 
well was used by the whole neighborhood, and a great trough 
furnished water to the thirsty horses. No trace of the house 
exists to-day ; but its site is approximately fixed by a large 
black-heart cherry-tree, which still produces luscious fruit. 
To the traveller from Taunton and beyond, journeying toward 
Boston, May's tavern was a convenient stopping-place. There 
was no turnpike built until the first quarter of the present 
century ; consequently nearly all travellers passed this house. 
As early as 1735 Nathaniel May was fined for travelling on 
the Sabbath Day; and as early as 1740 Samuel May had a 
shop on this corner. In 1747 Nathaniel May furnished the 
motive-power at the raising of the third meeting-house. In 
1766, in the month of October, the selectmen dined there. 
Five of them paid for their dinner at five shillings per man, 
and four of them had "boles of tody" at five shillings per 
bowl, old tenor. Two years afterward Joseph Billings was 
fortunate enough to kill fifty-eight rattlesnakes ; overjoyed at 
his success, he invited his friend, Joseph Hewins, to dine with 
him. The landlord of May's tavern presented him with the 
following bill : — 


To 2 Dinners o 


9 ° 

Rum 3 4 

Flip and other liquors y o 

Rum I 8 


O. 12. 

The flip was delicious ; and for fear the secret should be 
lost, we will reveal the mystery of its decoction. Four pounds 
of New Orleans sugar, four eggs, and one pint of cream were 
thoroughly mixed and allowed to stand two days ; then when 
the anxious customers appeared, a quart-mug nearly full of 
beer was drawn, and four large teaspoonfuls of the compound 
put into the beer; then the loggerhead, well heated, was 
applied to each mug, then one gill of rum added to each 
mug; and the work, as far as the landlord was concerned, was 
completed. All that remained was to uncover, and drink the 
king's healtL 

Years passed by ; the old sign still swung listlessly on its 

" Oh, the days are gone when the merry horn 

Awakened the echoes of smiling morn, 

As, breaking the slumber of village street, 

The foaming leaders' galloping feet 

Told of the rattling, swift approach 

Of the well-appointed old stage-coach." 

The easy times of peace passed away; and as the select- 
men met at the tavern they had other matters to discuss than 
the larder or cellar. Nathaniel May was now " mine host ; " 
and his tavern was designated by Captain Endicott as the 
place of meeting of the men of Canton who were willing 
to answer the alarm. Nor only this; but troops from the 
towns beyond stopped at the old tavern, and night after night 
every floor was covered with the recumbent forms of young 

In later years a singular incident happened in this old tav- 
ern. The house was at one time occupied by a lone woman, 
who, hearing some noise in the night, got out of bed, lighted 
a candle, and made a thorough search, as she supposed, for 
robbers. Finding no one, she went to bed and went to sleep. 


A few weeks afterward, a man was arrested for an offence 
committed in another town, and while confined in Dedham 
jail, confessed, among other matters, that he broke into May's 
tavern on that very night ; that he heard the woman descend- 
ing; that he saw the light, and at once climbed up the yawn- 
ing kitchen chimney and sat upon the crossbar until all had 
become quiet. 

In 1777 an advertisement in the "Continental Journal" 
informed the Stoughton friends of the soldiers in the army 
to the southward that if they would lodge their letters either 
at Mrs. May's tavern, in Stoughton, or at Mr. Randall's, in 
Stoughtonham, on the 8th day of January, 1777, and pay 
three shillings per letter, they would be duly forwarded to 
their destination by William Shurtleff, post-rider. When the 
news of the first alarm reached Stoughton there was as much 
excitement as at Canton. The men procured their arms and 
started for May's tavern, from which they marched to Boston. 

This tavern was the resort of the early musical society. 
In 1766, on account of some difficulty, " the Singing Meeting 
at May's was broke up; " but the next year, March 9, 1767, 
there was a meeting of the singers at May's, " all differences 
were made up," and there seemed to be " great love and 
harmony." Here also were held meetings where great love 
and harmony did not prevail ; such as meetings concerning 
the building of the schoolhouse in 1770, the draft in 1776, 
and the meeting of the Committee of Correspondence in 
regard to the Tories, and their trial, where Squire John 
Kenney presided. 

After the death of Nathaniel May, April 18, 1774, his 
widow sold out her household effects, and Capt. William Bent 
became landlord in 1780. Luther May appears to have kept 
the tavern from 1800 up to the time when the nightmare 
carried him off, on the 12th of April, 1812. In 1807 a 
singing-school was kept at Luther May's, but "there were 
so few pupils that were like to make singers that they flung 
it up." The material consisted of Adam Morse, A. Kinsley, 
A. Upham, E. Pitcher, T. Wentworth, George Downes, 
Charles Taunt, Gideon Mackintosh, Dr. Stone, D. Leonard, 


Eliza Carroll, Mary Billings, Sally Wentworth, Eliza Downes, 
Ruth Fisher, Polly and Ruth McKendry, Avis, Elizabeth, 
and Polly Wentworth. 

From 1796 to 18 12 all the school-district meetings of the 
Corner were held at May's. 

In 1822 the old tavern was unoccupied. The following 
account of it at that time has been preserved : — 

" I have been and examined Mrs. May's, and find it bad enough, 
in all conscience. The kitchen is poor and miserably old, with an 
antique fireplace, with the oven in the side, hard by the back. In one 
end is a place they call the bar ; but it is not unlike a small sheep-pen. 
The door opens into it directly from without, with a wooden latch ; 
the cracks on each side are sufficient to let in wind and weather ; one 
of the chambers is painted with skim-milk and Spanish brown, which 
gives it a very unique appearance. There are two small bedrooms 
under the roof, for I forgot to mention that it was a back lean-to 
house, in the style of sixty years since. These chambers are so near 
the roof that there would be no danger of falling out on the back side. 
Besides, I presume the house is not destitute of inhabitants, though 
human beings there were none." 

About 1824 the old building was occupied as a tavern by 
John J. Wood. The exact date of its demolition is unknown 
to me; it was between the years 1837 and 1840. One gentle- 
man informs me that he remembers when the sign represented 
a bell, and it was called the Bell Tavern. I am informed that 
a portion of this old tavern was moved to Chapman Street, 
opposite the terminus of Sherman Street, and converted into 
a tenement-house by that indefatigable preserver of ancient 
buildings and friend of our early days, Elijah Bailey. 

On the site where stands the house known as the Huntoon 
homestead there stood, in the latter part of the last century, 
a large old-fashioned mansion which was used as a tavern. 

Capt. Amos Upham was the landlord ; and he was a mem- 
ber of the Masonic fraternity. There was a hall in this old 
mansion on the northwest side, and here the Masonic breth- 
ren were wont to meet on winter evenings. They had no 
charter, but held what are known as sodality meetings. The 
honest landlord took the east; Jesse Downes, the father 


of the commodore, the west; John Capen the south; and 
George Jordan acted as Tyler. In 1814 Cobb's tavern, on 
the Sharon border, was substituted as a place of meeting. 
Jonathan Cobb was evidently a lover of the craft, for on the 
walls of the old tavern can still be seen blazoned the symbols 
of the Masonic order. 

In 1807, after the ordination of Rev. William Ritchie, the 
ministers and council were entertained at Mr. Upham's tav- 
ern. The same year the hall was used for a dancing-school. 

Mr. Upham sold his house of entertainment to Mr. George 
Downes ; and on Sept. 16, 18 19, the hall was used for the last 
time, when Mr. Joseph Lancashire delivered an address on 
education. On the 2ist of November the house took fire. 
The people at the meeting-house first discovered it, and rang 
the bell. Samuel Capen's hatter-shop was torn down, and 
the old Capen house, built by John Wentworth, Jr., was with 
great difficulty saved, to last until 1879, when it was demol- 
ished. The house of Dr. Jonathan Stone, at the corner of 
Ragged Row, commonly called the Withington house, or 
English Cottage, was also in danger, having been in flames 
many times, but was finally saved. 

In 1820 Mr. Downes erected the house now standing. It 
contained perhaps the only hall in Canton in those days. 
Here came all the shows ; and either in the hall or on the 
grounds were exhibited " two bisons and a catamount," and 
sometimes an elephant. In 1825 the hall was used for reli- 
gious services while the new meeting-house was being built. 
The same year a grand ball took place. Here, in 1824 and 
1833, performed the celebrated magician, Robert Potter, son 
of Dinah, slave of Sir Harry Frankland. One who saw him 
says, — 

" I ne'er shall see another show, 
To rank with the immortal Potter's ; 
He 's dead and buried long ago, 
And others charm our sons and daughters." 

On training-days the floor of the room in which these lines 
were written was so covered with the refuse of punch that the 
lemon peel floated about upon it. Here, also, met the select- 


men to transact their business, and the " Proprietors of the 
Common Field Meadows." Here was held the annual meet- 
ing of the Norfolk Universal Society in 1827. From 1822 to 
1829 the post-office was kept in this house. 

Mr. George Downes was a leading man in town. He was 
the son of Oliver Downes, and was born Sept. 3, 1790, and 
died Feb. 6, 1861. " He was," says one who knew him, "a 
most useful citizen, — one who sustained and filled with affec- 
tionate assiduity the tenderest relations of domestic life ; one 
whose sound mind, candid judgment, mature experience, and 
sterling common-sense were frequently appealed to in busi- 
ness affairs and highly appreciated by all who knew him." 
Mr. Downes left the house in 1840, and removed to the farm 
now occupied by the family on Pleasant Street. 

On the 27th of October, 1845, after this house had become 
a private residence, there occurred in it one of the most tragic 
events that ever took place in this town. Mr. Huntoon's 
wife had died on the 2d of October-, 1844; and he, with his 
son, was living in the house with a housekeeper named Eliza 
Baker. It was when Porter's burning fluid lamps, as they 
were called, were in vogue ; and Eliza had often been cau- 
tioned never to fill them when lighted. On this day she 
went into the dining-room, and bolting the doors for fear of 
interruption, took the can containing the fluid, unscrewed 
the top of the lamp, which was lighted, and tipped the can 
to pour out the fluid. The moment the fluid reached the 
outlet of the can, a flash ignited it, and there was a terrific 
explosion. Mr. Huntoon, who was writing in his study, 
heard the noise and fearful screams. He tried the door and 
found it locked, then retreating a few paces, he rushed with 
all his force and burst it open. The impressions of the mo- 
ment are thus described in his own words : — 

" I had written thus far when I was attracted by a noise in the 
dining-room, whither Eliza Baker had just gone with her lamp. And, 
oh, what a scene followed ! In a moment what a change came over 
me ! From a quiet, calm, and still room instantly the sounds of con- 
fusion, fire, and death are heard. What a display of mortal weakness, 
insecurity, and frailty is here, when the transition from the active 


career of life to the insensibility of the grave has been so awfully 
rapid ! One moment she was breathing freely the invigorating air of 
life ; the next, the suffocating flames of death. No warning, no ad- 
monition. With the suddenness of a flash of lightning enveloped in 
the devouring flames and without the reach of mortal assistance or 
relief, what an awful moment, what an age of agony must have been 
crowded into that single moment when she saw that blazing room and 
fastened door ! Upon such a scene of mortal agony I never before 
looked, and I pray God I never may again. Language has no words 
to express it ; the mind has no power to conceive the horror of it. I 
cannot realize the scene I then beheld. Its image in my memory is 
like the awful vision of a frightful dream. I can hardly be persuaded 
that it is not a delusion." 

When Mr. Huntoon entered the room, the woman stood in 
the centre of it, enveloped in the flames. He threw her on 
the floor and wrapped some woollen article about her. She 
was then taken out of the room. In the mean time the 
flames had communicated to the woodwork ; and it was only 
by the activity of the neighbors that the house was saved 
from burning. The blisters on the panels are still visible. 
Miss Baker died on the following day from her injuries. 

On the 23d of September, 1846, the pastor of the First 
Parish gave an " old folks' party " at this house. The united 
ages of twenty of the participants amounted to 13 14 years, as 
follows : Mrs. John Sherman, 84 ; Mrs. Jesse Downes, 85 ; 
Mrs. Nathan Gill, JT, Mrs. Draper, 80; Mrs. Thomas Dun- 
bar, 65 ; Mrs. Avis Leonard, 60 ; Mrs. Abigail Lewis, 75 ; 
Mrs. Eaton, 47; Mrs. Fisher, 52; Mrs. Turner, 60; Mrs. 
Elisha White, 52; Mrs. Billings, 80; Mrs. James Endicott, 
64; Mrs. Samuel Capen, 66; Mrs. James Bent, 54; Mrs. Dav- 
enport, 55 ; Mr. Elisha White, 56; Mr. Thomas Dunbar, 71 ; 
Mr. Ebenezer Turner, 60 ; Major Samuel Leonard, 71. 

Many of those who attended this party I well remember, 
and now they are all gone. Truly — 

" Life 's like an inn where travellers stay : 
Some only breakfast and away ; 
Others to dinner stay, and are full fed ; 
The oldest only sup and go to bed ; 
Long is his bill who lingers out the day ; 
Who goes the soonest has the least to pay." 


Friend Crane, the son of Elijah and Sarah (Haughton) 
Crane, was born in Ponkapoag, on May 20, 1764, in the old- 
fashioned gambrel-roofed house his father raised, and which 
still protrudes into the street. In 1801 Mr. Elijah Fisher sold 
to his brother Abel " the dark colored stage " which he had 
himself built, together with a full set of harness tipped with 
brass ; also the box, slate, and all privileges of which he was 
owner at Major King's tavern in Boston. Abel sold them to 
Friend Crane, who took the house known as the Stearns 
house, near the railroad bridge, and resided there. In 1812 
he built what is now known as the Everett house, and for 
more than twenty-five years he continued to drive his stage 
into Boston. King's inn was situated in Dock Square, and 
was a famous coaching-house. Crane left there for Canton on 
every Tuesday and Saturday at three o'clock; but he had so 
many parcels to deliver that it was often ten o'clock before 
he reached Canton. At one time the stage left from Dag- 
gett's in Market Street. In 1823 it was advertised to leave 
from Barnard's on Elm Street every Tuesday, Thursday, and 
Saturday. From 1826 the stage was driven by Ozias Gillett, 
who sold out to James Dunbar. Ezra Swift, Elijah and 
Nathaniel Bent subsequently drove the stage. 

Mr. George HoUingsworth, in writing of Mattapan in his 
boyhood, thus describes Friend Crane's stage : — 

"Twice a week and later every day the stage driven by Friend 
Crane to and from Canton would halt here to water the horses and 
take in perhaps a passenger or two. The stores dealing in refresh- 
ment for man and beast were the natural resting-places, and from 
them intelligence was conveyed." 

Friend Crane subsequently resided in the house opposite 
Neponset Street in South Canton. He was a stanch Bap- 
tist in his religious belief; and a tablet has been placed in the 
Baptist church which bears the following inscription : — 

" In memory of Deacon Friend Crane one of the founders and 
early supporters of this church, died March 27, 1847." 

Mr. Leonard Everett came to Canton about the year 
181 5. He was the son of Edward and Hannah (Leonard) 


Everett, and was born Sept. 26, 1787, on the old Everett 
homestead in Sharon, which the Canton Historical Society 
passed on their way from Sharon Village toward Moose Hill, 
on the Fast Day walk of 1880. Mr. Everett began business 
in the Upham tavern, and for a year or two remained in 
that house; the firm was Johnson & Everett. He then re- 
moved to the house we are describing. It is not probable 
that Mr. Everett had many lodgers at his house, but it seems 
to have been an excellent place for dinners. On Nov. 15, 
1822, when the Crane Guards turned out for the first time in 
their new uniforms complete, they started from Everett's, 
marched to General Crane's, took something to drink, fired 
nine times a six-pounder belonging to Captain Revere, then 
marched to Thomas Dunbar's, then to Colonel Lincoln's, 
where they had victuals and drink of good quality, where, 
after firing a salute, they marched off to the north part of 
the town. The performance ended by "A splendid Ball in 
Everett's Hall." 

The deacon appears to have been something of a military 
man, as he is designated as quartermaster. The members 
of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company residing 
in Canton — namely, Capt. A. Kinsley, Jonathan Leonard, 
Charles Leonard, Franklin Bisbee, John Gay, and Frederic 
W. Lincoln — dined in 1823 at Quartermaster Everett's. On 
the 23d of March, 1826, a military ball took place in the hall 
of this house. On the 2,8th of October, 1831, the house and 
store were burned. It was the day of the ordination of Rev. 
Mr. Edes, and Hon. Thomas French writes, " Mr. Everett's 
house was nearly destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon, soon 
after the services ; goods and furniture mostly saved." As I 
remember this place, it was the very embodiment of a coun- 
try store. Here congregated all the loafers and idlers in the 
vicinity, who sat on boxes covered with buffalo-skins, around 
the stove, and continually spat tobacco-juice upon it. Here 
were discussed the politics of the town; and the man who 
could hold his own in argument for the space of a year was 
looked upon as a village wiseacre. 

The store was for many years open on Sundays at noon ; 


and between the services crackers, cheese, and gingerbread 
were sold to such as did not carry their luncheon to meeting. 
Singing meetings were often held here; and in 1839 the 
committee decided in this house what tunes should be 
printed and what excluded from the forthcoming collection 
of the Stoughton Musical Society, to be printed by Marsh & 

Mr. Everett was an active man in the affairs of' the town, 
parish, and church, and held offices of trust and responsibil- 
ity in all these various organizations. He continued keeping 
this country store until his death, which occurred March 21, 

In the old Canton Cemetery there stands an ancient stone, 
which bears this inscription : — 

" Here lyes y° body of Dea'n Stephen Badlam, who died March 20th, 
1758, in y' 38th year of his age." 

And near it is another stone bearing this : — 

" Here lyes y° body of Mrs. Hannah Badlam she died March i6th, 
1758, in y' 34th year of her age. She was y" wife of Dea'n Stephen 

Thus they sleep, — they who kept the old tavern on Ragged 
Row a hundred and forty years ago. Deacon Badlam was 
the son of Stephen and Elizabeth (Billings) Badlam, and first 
saw the light in Milton, May 18, 1720. In 1742 he purchased 
from Roger Sherman the old farm now owned by the town of 
Canton, and here he kept until his death a well-ordered hos- 
telry. He was elected to the office of deacon, Feb. 15, 1749. 
He appears to have been a cabinet-maker, for in 1754 he 
receives payment for " making a sort of a desk for y' town 
books." In 1767 Asahel Smith, a brother-in-law of Deacon 
Badlam, came from Dedham and purchased the farm. He 
was active during the Revolution, and was captain of the 
second company that marched at the Lexington alarm. It 
is said that he paid for his farm by the sale of wild pigeons, 
which he caught in a swing-trap, carrying them to Boston 
and selling them at the market, and that his income from 


this source was one hundred dollars a year. This may ap- 
pear an exaggeration ; but we are informed that the pigeons 
were so numerous in the vicinity of Pigeon Swamp that one 
man caught with a net one hundred dozen lacking one. He 
tried to catch one more, but could not, and would not shoot 
one. We can well understand how this swamp came by its 
ancient name. 

Capt. Asahel Smith died Sept. i8, 1779, at the age of 
forty-six years. He also lies buried in the old cemetery, 
and the lines following are cut upon his stone : — 

" My children dear, this place draw near 
A father's grave to see ; 
Not long ago he was with you, 
And soon you '11 be with me.'' 

During Smith's occupancy of the tavern, the old singing 
society frequently made the roof ring with their melody; 
but on Sept 21, 1767, they met at Smith's, and the report 
was, " samone very poorly." Here William Billings kept his 
singing-school, and the exercises were held in the afternoon, 
as the roads were so bad that it was inconvenient to drive 
after dark. 

During the Revolution the selectmen and the Committee 
of Correspondence met often at Smith's. Here they regu- 
lated the prices of goods and merchandise, or decided on the 
distribution of supplies to the families of soldiers. 

In 1776 the question was discussed in this old tavern as to 
what should be done with those citizens who refused to take 
the test oath. In 1 778 Captain Smith's bill for hiring soldiers 
for the town, amounting to ;£'io iSs., was approved; and on 
the 14th of June, 1779, the committee discussed the question 
as to the best way and manner in which the men for the nine 
months' service could be secured. 

Captain Smith was succeeded by his son Joseph, who kept 
a pubUc-house until 1792. On March 12, 1793, the heirs 
sold the farm to Andrew Capen, father of Nahum Capen, 
LL.D., the author of the " History of Democracy." Andrew 
Capen was very fond of music, and lived to be present at the 
fiftieth anniversary of the Stoughton Musical Society, held in 


1 836. It was during his occupancy that the old tavern was 
finally closed, although it was allowed to remain standing 
until within the memory of persons now living. It was sit- 
uated a rod or two south of the present building; the old 
well still remains. In 1808 the present building was erected, 
and from Mr. Andrew Capen it passed into the possession of 
the town. In 1842 an addition was made to it, and in 188 1 a 
new building was joined to the almshouse. 

Between the old Blackman house and Carroll's tavern, on 
the southerly side of Washington Street, stands an old-fash- 
ioned house with a lean-to roof, and projecting therefrom an 
enormous chimney. It has within a few years been curtailed 
in its proportions and reduced to the size of an ordinary 
house; but in spite of paint its appearance indicates age. It 
has been called the Dunphe house of late years, because it 
was at one time occupied by a family of that name. But at 
the close of the last century it was the resort of the Federal- 
ists of that time. From 1785 to 1800, and how much earlier 
we cannot say, it was known as the Eagle Inn. It was the 
house referred to in the "Alphabet Song," which appeared 
soon after July 4, 1798, in the words: — 

" E stands for Eagle, the sign of the inn ; 
F stands for Federal, who went to drink gin." 

The principal patrons of this inn were courteous and bland 
old gentlemen, who had saved from the levelling influences 
of the Revolution the traditions of English elegance and 
good cheer, which they or their ancestors had brought to 
this country. Capt. William Bent, who Hes buried in the old 
burying-ground at Ponkapoag, came to Canton in 1763. We 
are not at present able to assert that he occupied this old 
house for the succeeding twenty years; but that he was 
engaged in furnishing refreshments, if not in keeping a tav- 
ern, would appear from the following entry in an old diary, 
under date of " Sept. 27, 1769, finish husking; supper at 
Bent's." Again, in 1771 : "Two days at Bent's to meet Dr. 

In the list of taverns which appear in a series of old almanacs 



in our possession, beginning in 1752, we find no mention of 
our Canton Bent ; but this may be because his residence was 
not at that time on a stage route. 

The almanac of 1767 mentions Doty's as two miles beyond 
Bent's ; but this was Capt. Lemuel Bent, whose tavern stood 
under the large elm-tree near the present Atherton tav- 
ern in Milton. The old almanacs further record that May's 
is three miles beyond Doty's; and Noyce's in Sharon four 
miles beyond May's. 

Capt. William Bent, whose services during the Revolution- 
ary War will be narrated elsewhere, was landlord of the Eagle 
Inn at the time of the July Fourth celebration. Here he put 
up such travellers as chance threw in his way, and retailed to 
the village loafers grog at threepence per glass. The well- 
to-do farmers purchased West India at three shillings a quart, 
and the parson always got a drink free. 

It was at Bent's that Moses Hartwell, the brother-in-law of 
Roger Sherman, boarded when he kept the school at Canton 
Corner in 1766. He had taught the school a decade before, 
but since that time he had been to Yale College, from which 
he graduated in 1762. He was the son of Joseph and Mary 
(Tolman) Hartwell, and was born July 24, 1735. The mel- 
ancholy news of his death reached Canton, Sept. 6, 1769, and 
is thus recorded : " Tidings came that Moses Hartwell was 
taken ill in New York on the 8th of August, and was brought 
home to his brother Sherman's house at New Haven sick of 
j^ nervous fever, and died y* twenty-fifth of y* same month. 
Sic transit gloria mundi." 

From 1786 to 1796 all the school meetings pertaining to 
the Canton Corner School were held at Captain Bent's. Dur- 
ing the piping times of peace. Bent had leisure to devote to 
town affairs and to parish matters. He attended to the first 
painting of the meeting-house ; on Sundays he took charge 
of the boys in the gallery; the supply of the pulpit was in 
his hands, and the candidates were well entertained at the 
old inn. 

During the war, when not out in service as captain in the 
Continental army, he purchased and distributed supplies to 


the families of the soldiers. He was away from this house 
between the years 1781 and 1785, when he kept the May tav- 
ern. He was appointed one of the committee of the Canton 
parish to prepare a bill for the separation of Canton from 
Stoughton ; and many were the meetings held alternately at 
this tavern and at Drake's in Stoughton to adjust the details 
of the separation. Here, also, were held trials for small of- 
fences. About 1800 the sign of the eagle was removed from 
the inn, and the figure of a horse substituted. In 1805 the 
committee appointed by the Court of Sessions met here to 
consult about widening and straightening the post-roads. 

Captain Bent kept this tavern until his death, Oct. 16, 
1806. It was then taken in charge by his son William, who 
also in later days kept the May tavern. About 1824 the Eagle 
Inn was purchased by Gideon Mackintosh, who learned the 
trade of a hatter of Capt. Benjamin McKendry. He was a 
genial, gentlemanly man, the father of Adam, and purchased 
subsequently the farm on which Adam resided at Packeen. 
Gideon Mackintosh married, Nov. 5, 18 12, Nancy, daughter 
of John and Nancy (Tucker) Sherman, grand-daughter of 
Roger Sherman. Gideon Mackintosh died Sept. 19, 1859, 
aged seventy; she died Sept. 19, 1836. 

The old tavern, standing just west of Aunt Katy's Brook, 
was erected April 14, 1798. It contains a hall for dancing; 
and a piazza on the second story, opening from the hall. 
Here was held the preliminary trial of Jack Battus. Here 
Baptist, Universalist, and Catholic clergymen have held the 
services of. their respective organizations, but the old people 
who were young a half-century ago will best recall the days 
of sleighing parties, and the merry dance that followed. It 
was kept by mine host Samuel Carroll, who married a daugh- 
ter of Adam Blackman. 

Mrs. Maynard was fond of describing the old-fashioned 
" sings " that took place at Carroll's, about 1800, when old Dea- 
con Elijah Dunbar led the singing, and when he called for an 
old-fashioned pewter platter, for fear of dulling his knife on 
the new-fangled china that had been placed before him ; but 
most to be remembered was the grand "sing" of 1815, when 


the return of peace was announced, and the timbers shook 
with the ancient melody. Mr. Nathaniel French subsequently 
taught a singing-school in this tavern, and psalm tunes were 
sung over and over again. 

It was in the hall of this tavern that the first Baptist min- 
ister preached, on the 4th of September, 1806. Here the 
Rev. William Ritchie boarded before his settlement, and 
here were adjusted the preliminary articles regarding his 
pastoral office. Here also were the meetings held to op- 
pose the building of the Turnpike in 1806, and also to pre- 
vent its completion. 

After the death of Carroll, which occurred Oct. 25, 1820, 
the tavern was kept at one time by John J. Wood ; and here 
Universalist meetings were held. It was subsequently owned 
by Larra Wentworth, who was born Sept. 6, 1800, and died 
Dec. 13, 1858. It is now owned and occupied by Edward 
Cotter. The irregular shape of the doors and windows, and 
the piazza on the second story, give to the building a peculiar 
and picturesque aspect. 

Capt. John Tucker resided until the beginning of the pres- 
ent century on the farm now owned by Ellis Tucker. He was 
born in 1748. In 1772 he married Rachel, daughter of Rob- 
ert and Margaret (Smith) Thompson; she died Oct. 18, 
1830, and he Dec. 1 1, 1826. He was the son of Capt. Samuel 
Tucker, from whom all the Tuckers in Canton are descended. 
He came from Milton and settled on the easterly side of the 
York road ; the old cellar-hole and well are still to be seen 
opposite the residence of the late Nathaniel Tucker; for some 
reason Captain John was styled " Governor." He married, 
Dec. 3, 1747, Abigail, the daughter of Major John and 
Rebecca (Fenno) Shepard. One of his sons, Jedediah, grad- 
uated at Harvard College in 1782, became a clergyman, and 
was settled at London, N. H., in 1789. He died in 1818, and 
was found by the roadside with his horse standing beside 
him. Another son, Samuel, resided at York, and married 
Olive Hartwell, Nov. 30, 1780. Simeon also lived at the 
Farms near him, and Oct. 23, 1788, married Milla Hartwell. 
Daniel married Bethiah Gill, Oct. 16, 1777, and resided ou 


Farm Street in the house now owned by Phineas Tucker. 
Samuel the father died March 17, 1796, in the seventy-sev- 
enth year of his age, and Abigail, his wife, March 23, 1792, 
aged sixty- four. 

The Redman' farm was purchased by Capt. John Tucker, 
in 1803, who formerly resided at the Farms. The old Redman 
house, built in the earliest days of the settlement, was then 
standing, and was called the " small old house." Mr. Tucker 
erected the present house, and here opened a tavern, which 
was for many years to have a reputation unsurpassed. Within 
its walls, while it was a new house, on the 3d of April, 181 3, 
the veteran soldiers of the Revolution had a reunion, and 
afterward enjoyed a fish chowder under the shade of a large 
button-wood that stood about where the modern avenue 
crosses the old Ponkapoag Pond bank. Captain John died 
Dec. II, 1826, aged seventy-eight. 

In 1823 Capt. William Tucker purchased the property from 
his father, and erected upon a pole about sixteen feet high 
a gilded ball about one foot in diameter, which about 1827 dis- 
appeared and gave place to a sign with " Ponkapoag Hotel " 
painted upon it. 

A number of Boston gentlemen were in the habit of coming 
out to Ponkapoag to pass the day; and from 1830 to 1850 
the hotel was mostly patronized by them and the scores of 
their friends who were fond of a day's recreation. Captain 
Tucker erected a shelter on Puffer's Neck, which was known 
as the Sheep Shore ; and here celebrated chowders were 
made by the landlord, who was well versed in the mysteries 
of the culinary art. 

The Ponkapoag Hotel differed in one respect from other 
country taverns. There were no boarders and few transient 
lodgers. The guests mostly confined themselves to a day's 
sport, driving from Boston early in the morning and return- 
ing in the evening. On the 4th of July, 1826, the military 
company took dinner at Capt. William Tucker's. Pigs were 
roasted whole, and a fine repast was furnished in a pavilion 
in the rear of the house. After dinner, the company went 
up Blue Hill. The Crane Guards, commanded by Capt. 


William Shaller, turned out on the occasion. Here, in 1820, 
Rev. Mr. Huntoon put up when he came to Canton for the 
first time ; and here the council which ordained him met on 
the 22d of January, the following year. In 1825, a circus 
ring was constructed in front of the house, and drew the 
attention of the younger residents of Ponkapoag of that time. 
There was a bowling-alley connected with the house which 
has long since disappeared. 

Captain Tucker at one period of his life took an active 
part in town and parish affairs. He was very fond of hunting. 
A good picture of the jolly captain with his favorite setter is 
still in possession of his daughter. After the death of the 
captain, the hotel was occupied, in 1863, by Mr. William Lord, 
and subsequently by DeForrest Lewis ; but with the death of 
the old landlord Tucker, the old glory departed. In 1869 
the property passed into the possession of Hon. Henry L. 
Pierce. He has added to its area, built a delightful avenue 
from the house to the pond, and made the Redman farm 
one of the best in Norfolk County. 

The land on which the Cherry Tavern stands was originally 
a part of Lot No. 5 of the " Twelve Divisions." It was 
owned in common by David Jones, Samuel Paul, and Daniel 
Preston. In 1 700 it was owned by William Bennett, who 
sold it to Charles Salter. In 17 14 Salter's widow sold the 
southern third of a sixty-acre lot to Jonathan Kenney. At 
his death in 1724 it came into the possession of his son, Jona- 
than, Jr., who sold it to his brother John. 

John, the son of John and Abigail (Wentworth) Kenney, 
was born Feb. 9, 1729, and died March 9, 1805. He was a 
prominent man in the history of our town. Although not a 
lawyer by education, he did much of that kind of business 
which has of late fallen into the hands of lawyers ; and many 
of the deeds, bonds, leases, and indentures in old times were 
written by him. He was a good bass singer, and went to 
Boston to buy books for the singing-club as early as 1766. 
During the War of the Revolution he was active and energetic 
in the patriotic cause. He was at the outset one of the five 
sent to the adjournment of the Doty Tavern Congress, which 


was held at the tavern of Richard Woodward, at Dedham, on 
the 6th of September, 1774. The following year he was a 
minute-man and one of the Committee of Inspection, and 
again in 1776- He listened to the evidence against the Tories 
in 1777; and the expression, "This is what I call doing busi- 
ness, as Squire Kenney said when he wiped his mouth and 
sentenced a Tory," comes down in folk-lore as evidence of his 
zeal. In 1778 he was selected by our townsmen to bear a 
message to General Washington, and in 1783 was sent as 
Representative to the General Court. He gave his property 
to his son, who agreed to support him, but disregarded his 
agreement; and the old gentleman who had been considered 
worthy to clasp the hand of the father of his country died a 
town pauper. 

In 1753 he erected a small gambrel-roofed house on the 
site where stands the Cherry Tavern. It now forms the 
southeast corner of the lower story of the present building; 
and we are informed that the only cellar this large mansion 
now has is the old cellar of the original house. This house 
remained in the possession of the Kenney family until 18 18, 
when it was sold to John Gerald, the son of William Fitz- 
gerald, the first of the name in Canton. William lived in 
1785 in a house which formerly stood back of the Ponkapoag 
schoolhouse, on a deserted lane running to Green Lodge 
Street, on the line between Lot No. S and the Indian land. 
The Canton Historical Society identified the cellar-hole on 
the Fast Day walk of 1885. This house was afterward pur- 
chased by Laban Lewis and removed to his father's farm op- 
posite the Ponkapoag schoolhouse. William Fitzgerald died 
Sept. 17, 1802. His descendants have dropped the Fitz. 

In 1823 the cherry-trees planted by Squire Kenney were in 
their prime, and persons who were fond of this fruit began to 
go to John Gerald's; but it was not until 1826 that the old 
house was raised to a two-story house and extended toward 
the north. Seven or eight years later the back was raised to 
correspond with the front. 

Before the house was a pole, from which hung a swinging 
sign on which was represented a cherry-tree and the legend, 


"John Gerald, Cherry Tavern, 1827." In 1839 landlord Ger- 
ald informs his patrons that " he still retains the well-known 
stand called the Cherry Tavern, where he will continue to 
receive and entertain his customers with the choicest fruits 
and viands of the season." 

But landlords are not without their troubles. Now, Captain 
Tucker of the Ponkapoag Hotel had a fine road across his 
farm to the pond, a good landing-place with boats, and 
opportunities for a fish-fry, so that many persons drove by 
the Cherry Tavern and patronized the rival tavern. In order 
to divert a portion of this custom and to make his place of 
equal attraction, Gerald had a canal dug in 183 1 from the old 
pond bank near where the house of David Talbot stood, 
through the bogs to the pond, placed upon it a boat, and 
announced that boats were in readiness for those who de- 
sired a sailing or fishing excursion on Ponkapoag Pond ; but 
the scheme was not a success. 

The long house on the opposite side of the street was 
formerly connected with the Cherry Tavern. The lower part 
was used as a shed for horses, while in the upper story was a 
bowling-alley. It was removed to its present site in 1839. 
Under its roof the old canvas-covered baggage-wagons from 
Leach's furnace at Easton used to pull up. 

Mr. Francis Sturtevant purchased the place in 1841. He 
was born April 2, 1779, and died at Canton, March 18, 1863. 
He continued to keep the tavern until his death. The house 
subsequently was purchased by Samuel Cabot, M. D., of 
Boston, who converted it into a private residence. The open 
yard was filled with trees, the old pump with its ample trough 
denied the public, the bar removed, and man and beast pass 
it now with thirst unquenched. 

Philip Liscom, Jr., who kept a hotel in 1769, was the 
grandson of that Philip Liscom who married Charity Jordan, 
of Milton, Dec. 24, 1701, who was living at York in 17 16, and 
may have lived there in 1708, when he was warned out of 
Dorchester. He owned our church covenant in 1718, and 
the same year held the important position of constable ; and 
two years later, when his neighbor, Jonathan Jordan, under- 


took to resist his authority, he was forced for his audacity to 
pay forty shillings to the king. One of his sons, Benjamin, 
who was born Nov. 4, 1720, is recorded as having been killed 
by the Indians in 1746. He died "in the twentieth year of 
his majesty's reign, leaving no wife nor child nor any legal 
heir." His brothers, Philip and John, immediately began a 
law-suit for a seventh part of his estate, consisting of a house 
with seven acres of land, bounded west by the road leading 
to Bear Swamp. This Philip had a son Philip, born June 23, 
1731, who married Miriam Belcher, Nov. 16, 1752, and died 
Feb. 8, 1774. He was the innkeeper of 1769. His inn was 
situated, according to the old almanacs, " one mile south of 
Doty's and two miles north of May's." It occupied the site 
at the corner of Washington and Sassamon streets, and pre- 
ceded the house built in 1848, still standing, and owned by 
George B. Hunt. The original house was probably built 
about 1767, for Squire Dunbar mentions it as the place where, 
on Sept. 16, 1767, they had "Fine singing at Liscoms New 
House." But though Liscom was a good singer, he could not 
keep a hotel; and after running it two years, he could not 
pay his taxes, and could not pay the fine for not paying his 
taxes, so to jail he went. 

From 1760 to 1768 Henry Stone styles himself "inn- 
holder." He resided on his father's homestead, now occu- 
pied by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. He was the son of Daniel 
and Thankful (Withington) Stone, and was baptized by the 
Rev. Joseph Morse, Feb. 19, 1721. In 1756 he was out in the 
French War, and the following year was at Crown Point. In 
1760 he was at home again, and occupied the estate of Samuel 
Vose. In 1762 he administered upon his father's estate, and 
the same year desired to purchase the town's right in " The 
Landing Place at Milton." In 1765, in connection with Ed- 
ward Wentworth, he erected at Milton the first chocolate- 
mill in the country, which has been doing business ever since. 
He had a mill on Ponkapoag Brook, on the " upper mill 
pond," the remains of which are still to be seen a few rods 
below the bridge at Ponkapoag, and are worth a visit for 
their picturesque beauty. He married, about 1742, Lydia 


Wadsworth. To his house to woo his daughters came Joseph 
Bemis, Nathaniel and Lemuel Davenport, Elisha Crehore, 
Capt. Thomas Crane, and Thomas Allen, and were successful 
in their suits. From 1766 to 1774 he was on the committee 
of the First Parish. He died June 7, 1784. 

Another tavern kept by Mr. Kinsley is mentioned in 1798. 
Here the committee chosen by the town of Milton met the 
committee of Canton on the 19th of March. 

From its intimate connection with the Revolution, an ac- 
count of the Doty tavern will be found in the history of that 

Williams's tavern was not properly in Canton, but just over 
the Sharon line, opposite land owned in 1803 by Jonathan 
Cobb. It was in existence and frequently mentioned about 

In 1830 Mr. Francis W. Deane kept a tavern at the corner of 
Washington and Neponset streets, in the house built in 1828 
by Dr. Simeon Tucker, but it was only for a year or two. 

On the opposite side of the street from the Eagle Inn 
stands the old Blackman house. Rev. Theron Brown says 
this house was for many years known as the Baptist Tav- 
ern. It was evidently not a public-house ; the only event of 
any public interest which has taken place within its walls was 
the meeting on the 22d day of June, 1814, when the Baptist 
Church was organized, and when the dinner served must have 
equalled that of any hotel. When Mr. Porter preached here 
on Sept. 12, 1783, he boarded at Blackman's, as did also Rev. 
Mr. Ritchie in later days ; for boarding these and other can- 
didates, Mr. Blackman received £"22 15J. \d. 

" The moss-grown dome where first they met, 
By the old road is standing yet ; 
And near the landmark mountain high, 
The small brown schoolhouse, where in days 
Of strengthening hope they sung God's praise, 
Waits while the years of time go by." 

In 1840 Zadock Leonard had a tavern at the junction of 
Church and Neponset streets. The hall is known as Union 


CIVIL HISTORY, 1726-1750. 

WE have thus far traced the history of the Dorchester 
South Precinct from the time it was a wilderness 
until it became incorporated into the township of Stoughton. 

The records of the town from its incorporation principally 
consist of the names of the town officers chosen at the annual 
meetings, of the perambulation of the boundary lines between 
Stoughton and the adjoining towns, of the amount of money 
yearly raised to defray expenses of the town and the 
minister, of the presentation of petitions, of the manner of 
notifying legal meetings, of the bounds of highways, of the 
choosing of a representative to the General Court, of the 
right of swine to go at large, of the bounty on crows and 
squirrels, of the remitting of rates, of the mending of the high- 
ways, and of the appointing of a suitable person ■' to inspect 
y* boys on y' sabbath." 

From the year 1700 the inhabitants of the "New Grant" 
increased very much in population and material prosperity. 
Twenty-seven years after, the number of ratable polls was one 
hundred and eighty, and one hundred and t^venty-one houses 
had been erected. Seven hundred and sixty-three neat cattle 
and horses were owned by the cultivators of the soil, and the 
land had been redeemed to a certain extent from the wilder- 
ness. Lands lying between the modern towns of Stoughton 
and Canton were still called Mount Hunger Fields; but no 
settler need starve to death on his land. 

The settlers, aside from their natural increase, received 
large accessions from strangers. The streams had been util- 
ized ; six or seven saw-mills and two grist-mills were in active 
operation. On Ponkapoag Brook, Robert Redman had built 


a saw-mill; and near the road leading to "Mashapogue," 
Ebenezer Maudsley (Mosely) owned the " corn mill." Philip 
Goodwin and William Royall had also mills. 

Again the manufacture of iron implements had become a 
business ; and at this time there were four iron-works engaged 
in smelting ore from Massapoag Pond, which was obtained 
by purchase from the " Proprietors of Dorchester." In the 
year 1724 Ebenezer Jones and others, " y° owners of y° iron 
works," purchased three hundred and seventy tons of ore at 
three shillings per ton, and Capt. Ebenezer BilHngs one hun- 
dred tons at the same price ; and the total amount sold to 
all purchasers during this year alone was seven hundred and 
seventy tons. 

One of the articles in the warrant, March 4, 1728, was to 
see " if the town would purchase some lands of the Indians 
for pasturage lands, if liberty can be had of the Council so to 
do ; i. e. the two pieces formerly petitioned for." This would 
appear to be land which it was desirable to purchase for the 
use of the minister. It consisted of two pieces, of fifty acres 
each, — one on Pleasant Street, west of. the almshouse, and 
one adjoining land of George Wadsworth and Edward Capen, 
near Indian Lane. It would appear that the council did 
nothing about it, for in 1729 an article appeared in the war- 
rant " to. see if the town would pay for the piece of land near 
Mr. Dunbar's, which the town voted to purchase, that was, 
or is, Mr. John Withington's, for the benefit of the town, or 
if said land is not purchased, to see what salary will satisfy 
Mr. Dunbar without purchasing any land at all." This land 
was bounded on the east by land of Capt. John Vose, and on 
the west by land of James Endicott and Daniel Stone. 

This year ;^8o was voted " by way of rate for the use of 
the ministry in this town," and a committee was appointed 
to provide for the council attending the coming ordination of 
Samuel Dunbar. 

On the 9th of October, 1727, a petition was received by 
the town, from Nathaniel Hubbard, Richard Williams, James 
Draper, Jeremiah Whiting, and John Eaton, all of whom lived 
on the northerly side of the Neponset River, in the part of 


Stoughton now Dedham. The petitioners said that they 
could not possibly attend the public worship of God at 
Stoughton, although they had cheerfully and constantly borne 
their portion of the charges of the ministry when it was a pre- 
cinct, and they desired that they, with their estates, might be 
freed from the ministerial rate. This petition was granted. 

In 1737 Ebenezer Woodward said: "About nineteen 
months ago I removed from Dedham to my house and farm 
in Stoughton, on the west side of Neponset River, about 
two miles and a half from the meeting-house in Dedham, and 
eleven or twelve from the Stoughton meeting-house as the 
road goes." Hubbard purchased his farm at Green Lodge, 
in 1719, from Capt. John Nelson, — one of the Stoughton 
heirs by right of his wife. 

In 1730 the town refused to send a representative, and 
was accordingly fined. 

An article was inserted in the warrant in 1727 "to see 
what action the town will take in regard to procuring a free 
passage for fish up the Neponset River." 

Thus was opened a fight between the towns of Canton, 
Stoughton, and Sharon, and the mill-owners on the Neponset 
River, which was to be fought with bitterness and great ex- 
pense to both parties, and to continue nearly a century. 

The alewives are accustomed in the spring to leave the 
salt water and pass, with the incoming tide, up the rivers and 
brooks to the fresh-water ponds. Before the coming of the 
white man, the Indians had learned that these fish, placed 
upon the corn-fields and allowed to decay, rendered them 
more fertile. The number of fish that annually journeyed to 
the brooks of Canton was enormous. Before any obstruction 
existed to their passage, Ponkapoag and Pecunit brooks 
were so filled with fish that a traveller, riding through one 
of these brooks, destroyed numbers of them with the tramp- 
ing of his horse. 

The migration of these fish was a great source of income to 
our ancestors. Whether they were made proud with the 
coming, and humble at the going of the alewives, like our 
neighbors of Taunton, we cannot say; but it was a great 


source of trouble to our people when the manufacturers on 
the Neponset put in dams so as to prevent the passage of 
fish, and deprive them of one of their sources of income. 
If they did not eat them, they sold them to the poor 
"French Neuters" in 1758, and charged two shillings a 
hundred for them. 

The only course open was to appeal to the General Court. 
A petition was accordingly prepared by Elhanan Lyon, " the 
great troubler of the church," setting forth this grievance. 

In 1766 the matter was again discussed. The mill-owners 
at the lower or first dam demanded that the towns should 
make and maintain a passage-way six feet wide, which should 
remain open one month in the year, and that they pay ;^ioo 
per year to each of the two owners. The towns did not see 
the fairness of this proposition, and refused to accede to it. 

In 1783 Hon. Elijah Dunbar was appointed to present a 
petition to the General Court that the obstructions in the 
Neponset River should be removed, the towns of Sharon and 
Walpole joining. Daniel Vose and David Leeds agreed that 
if they were subject to no expense, they would open a sluice- 
way four feet wide, to be open only when the tide came in. 
The committee of the towns were in the habit of sending 
emissaries to spy out the obstructions ; and it is asserted that 
Daniel Vose, finding one of Canton's myrmidons looking 
about his dam one dark night, threw him into the pond. 

In 1788 the inhabitants of Stoughton and Sharon were in 
high glee ; for the lower dam gave way and let the fish pass 
in great plenty, some going as far as " Ponkapogue and Mas- 
sapoag." The brooks were cleared as far as Colonel Gridley's 
mill, but whether beyond that or not I am not informed ; 
and the expense for one year alone was ;£89 15^. In 1789 
Mr. James Endicott was employed in work at the Lower 
Mills connected with the fish-ways. 

In 1793 Mr. Benjamin Gill attended the General Court for 
the purpose of obtaining some redress, and an important suit 
against Leeds and Vose was decided in favor of Stoughton 
and Sharon the following year. 

In 1794 Hugh McLean petitioned for leave to close his 


sluice-ways; and the town again sent Benjamin Gill to re- 
monstrate. In 1796 a joint committee from the towns of 
Dorchester and Milton represented to the General Court that 
great damage was done to individuals in the most valuable 
season of the year, by stopping from work the numerous 
mills on the Neponset, many of which were important manu- 
factories, and the inconvenience to which the inhabitants were 
subject to, by stopping the grist-mills ; and that they believed 
that the quantity of fish which passed up the river was so in- 
considerable that it was not a matter of much consequence. 

The Act of incorporation of the town of Canton, passed 
on Feb. 23, 1797, continued to the inhabitants of modern 
Stoughton the same rights that had been enjoyed by both 
towns; but on March 10, of the same year, a new Act was 
passed, whereby Stoughton was debarred from the privilege 
of choosing a committee to join with the other towns referred 
to, for the purpose of regulating the fisheries. 

In 1802 John Billings offered to pay for the exclusive right 
of taking the fish in Ponkapoag Brook, five dollars for the 
first, ten dollars for the second, and eighty dollars for the 
fifth, years. 

In 1803 the towns again petitioned for sufficient sluice-ways 
through the dams on the river ; and Paul Revere and others 
were notified not to shut their gates until the 20th of June, 
agreeable to an order of the Committee of the Court of 

In 1805 the Committee of the General Court desired that 
three disinterested persons repair to the dams on the Nepon- 
set River, and take into consideration the whole interest, 
order such alterations to be made as should allow the fish to 
pass, see that the gates should be hoisted and continue open 
thirty days, and require the expense to be paid by the mill- 
owners. Edmund Baker, who owned one half of a dam, re- 
fused to pay his assessment, and a suit was instituted, which 
was decided adversely to the town. The expense attending 
the fish contest amounted in the year 1806 to $78.98; and 
Mr. Jabez Talbot estimated the expense that the town of 
Stoughton had been at, in order to get free passage for the 


alewives, from 1730 to 1800, at $182.93. As late as 1809, I 
find " the mill-owners are to be opposed by all lawful means 
by this town." 

Finally, modes of obtaining a livelihood increased with the 
growth of the town; and the benefit derived from the ale- 
wives was not equal to the expense of fighting the mill- 
owners of the Neponset. 

By referring to the- Act of incorporation of Stoughton as 
a town the reader will observe that a certain section begin- 
ning, " And further it is to be understood " provides that 
those persons who were the owners of the common and 
undivided lands in Dorchester or Stoughton should have the 
same rights that they had always possessed, provided no 
Act of incorporation had ever been passed, any law or 
custom to the contrary notwithstanding. Now, one of these 
rights was immunity from taxation. Three years after the 
incorporation this matter which was " to be understood " 
seems to have been the very thing that it was advisable should 
not be understood. The inhabitants of Stoughton were desir- 
ous that wealthy land-owners should assist them in paying a 
portion of the town, county, and State taxes, thus lighten- 
ing their own burdens and adding to the material wealth of 
the town. The matter was proposed for the town's consid- 
eration in 1728; but nothing was done until the i8th of May, 
1733, when a committee was appointed, consisting of Capt. 
Isaac Royall, Lieut. William Crane, and Elhanan Lyon, to 
petition the General Court, through their representative, 
Moses Gill, for liberty to tax the non-resident proprietors. 
The matter of drawing the petition was referred to Elhanan 
Lyon, who says he was seven days composing it and six days 
transcribing it. This memorial set forth that the inhabitants 
of Stoughton "have been at great expense in settling and sup- 
porting a minister ; that the charge of supporting their poor 
is very great; and that within a short time nineteen or twenty 
families have been released from the town and annexed to 
Dedham, and that sixty or seventy acres of meadow land 
have been lost by such transaction." To contest this petition, 
a committee of the proprietors was appointed under the lead- 


ership of Edmund Quincy. He was born in 1681, graduated 
at Harvard College in 1699, was subsequently a judge of the 
Supreme Court, and commander of the Suffolk Regiment. 
He was sent to England in 1737 by the General Court to 
arrange the boundary line between New Hampshire and 
Massachusetts Bay; while there, he was attacked by the 
small-pox and died. His remains were interred in Bunhill 
Fields, where the remains of John Milton and John Bunyan 
rest, and over his grave the General Court erected a monu- 
ment, which was subsequently destroyed, when the ground 
was ploughed, as it was customary to do every fifty years. 
In answer to this petition Mr. Quincy said that — 

" in the first place, the inhabitants of the town of Stoughton have 
been at no more expense in supporting the institution of religion than 
formerly ; they are not a young people, and the minister now settled 
over them is not the first one they ever had ; that from 1 707 until the 
present time they have maintained the ministry without taxing the 
non-resident proprietors, and cannot possibly stand in need of it now, 
when they are four times as numerous and able as they were at first. 
To the second allegation the non-residents reply, That had they 
remained a part of Dorchester, they would have had their poor sup- 
ported at the town's charge, to which they contributed less than their 
actual proportionate share ; but to pray the town of Dorchester first to 
set them off, and then to pray the Court that they may have liberty to 
tax the unimproved lands belonging to the inhabitants of the town of 
Dorchester, for they are the owners, the proprietors deem without 
reason or precedent. To the plea that they have lost some families 
lately, the proprietors reply that the court judged Stoughton to be 
strong enough to support themselves without the aid of these families, 
or they would not have set them off. 

" To the assertion in the petition of the town of Stoughton that 
there is a considerable quantity of land that belongs to the non-resi- 
dent proprietors, that has never yet been rated towards the support 
of the ministry or other charges, although the land has greatly risen in 
value, the non-resident proprietors reply. That the statement dates back 
too far ; that it refers to the time of the settling of the people in the place, 
' which is supposed to be about thirty years,' and also to the uphold- 
ing of the Gospel among them, which is supposed to be about twenty 
years back, when the fact is they have only been a township about six 



or seven years, and until that time they were encouraged and assisted 
by the town of Dorchester. The building of their Meeting House 
was assisted by the subscriptions of the Proprietors. Their writing 
and reading school was often in part or in whole maintained by 
Dorchester, and Mr. Morse, their minister, was allowed to draw his 
salary from the town treasury. The proprietors further assert that 
the value of the land has scarcely risen at all, for the reason that the 
town of Stoughton is a very large tract of land, consisting of about 
sixty thousand acres, lying in an irregular form, being about twenty- 
two miles in length upon the road ; and the most settled part thereof, 
where the Meeting House stands, is upon the six thousand acres of 
land formerly called Ponkapoag plantation, with some lands circum- 
adjacent ; that this land is owned and occupied by actual residents, 
whereas the land of the non-residents lie at a great distance from the 
settled part of the town, eight, ten, fifteen, and some twenty miles from 
the meeting house ; that the rise in the value of this land, if risen at 
all, is not owing to the settlement of this, but to the settlement of 
other towns to which it is contiguous, such as Wrentham, Braintree, 
and Walpole, when there are meeting-houses within three miles of 
these unimproved lands, and the towns of Norton, Easton, and Attle- 
borough also lie adjacent to and border on said lands ; the statement 
is further made that in the year 1724, the inhabitants of the further 
end of said tract of land next to Attleborough and Wrentham, consist- 
ing of some twelve or fourteen families, by a petition to the General 
Court, were with their farms annexed to the town of Wrentham, 
which would plainly indicate that they were too far" removed from 
Stoughton. Now, the lands of the non-resident proprietors at this 
very place consisted of eight or nine thousand acres, and the proprie- 
tors cannot see any reason why they should pay a tax to Stoughton.'' 

The General Court decided that the town of Stoughton 
should not be allowed to do that which in the Act of incor- 
poration it was distinctly understood they should not do. 

There are only three slaves recorded as being owned in 
Canton in 1734- They were owned respectively by Capt. 
John Shepard, Isaac Royall, Esq., and Ebenezer Maudsley 
(Mosely), the latter gentleman's chattel being valued at ;£i50. 
In 1741 the number had increased to eleven, Nathaniel 
Maudsley (Mosely) and Deacon Joseph Tucker having one 
female slave each, Ralph Pope and Isaac Royall, of Medford, 



having been added to the Hst of 1734. The value of a young 
slave is shown by the following document : — 

Milton, June gth, 1747. 
I, the subscriber, Elizabeth Wadsworth, of Milton, have received of 
Mr. Timothy Tolman, of Stoughton, the sum of one hundred pounds, 
old tenor, in full for a negro fello a bought, eighteen years of age, 
named Primas. I say received by me. 

Elizabeth x Wadsworth. 
In presence of Benj. Wadsworth. 

In 1734 there were in Canton 141 houses, 10 orchards, 200 
acres of mowing land, lOi pastures, 152 acres of tillage land, 
4 mills, 3 slaves, and 59 ratable polls. The taxable live- 
stock consisted of 60 oxen, 126 cows, 50 horses, and 119 
sheep. Seven years later the number of mills had increased 
from the four of Royall, Redman, Maudsley, and Goodwin, 
to eleven, owned by William Royall & Co., Philip Goodwin, 
Capt. John Shepard, Ebenezer Jones, Jedediah Morse, Eben- 
ezer Man & Co., Deacon Joseph Topliff. 

In 1737 the descendants of those who had served in the ill- 
fated expedition to Canada, under command of Capt. John 
Withington, in 1690, were granted, by the General Court, 
rights in a new township called Dorchester Canada, now Ash- 
burnham. Some of these persons were connected with Can- 
ton. Major John Shepard received his portion in the right 
of his uncle, John Shepard, who served under Major Wade; 
Humphrey Atherton in the right of his father, Consider; 
Ebenezer Hewins in the right of his brother, Benjamin ; Rob- 
ert Redman in the right of his father, Charles ; Philip Good- 
win in his own right under command of Major Wade ; Joseph 
Warren, of Roxbury, in the right of Elias Monk; William 
Royall in the right of Hopestill Saunders. 

In 1737 Eleazar Rhoades and others were set to Walpole 
and freed from ministerial charges until they should have a 
meeting-house nearer to them than the one at Stoughton.^ 

» See Appendix XXIV. 


In 1738 a petition was presented to the General Court that 
the hne between Dedham and Stoughton be changed, the 
reason urged being the difficulty of perambulation; and it 
was suggested that the Neponset River in future should 
divide the territory of the towns.^ 

At a town meeting held at Dedham, Oct. 2, 1738, after 
consideration and considerable debate, the petition, with a 
proviso, was consented to ; and that a part of Stoughton be 
taxed to Dedham, and "that Neponset River be made the 
bounds between Stoughton and the first parish in Dedham." 
Stoughton also consented, reserving their property known as 
the " school farm." Until this time the Stoughton line ran 
about one mile west of the river. The Neponset River, from 
the Milton line to its junction with Traphole Brook, thence 
up that stream, was made the line ; and the lazy perambu- 
lators have since simply recorded it as " a wet line." 

In 1740, so great had been the increase in the prosperity 
of the town that petitions came in from all sides for separa- 
tion from the mother town. 

March 10, 1739-40, the inhabitants of Stoughton voted 
that the town be divided into two precincts ; and at a sub- 
sequent meeting the committee reported as follows : — 

It is y° opinion of us y° subscribers that if y' Town see cause to 
Divide into two precincts, that it be Done as followeth, Viz. by a Line 
parralel with Brantrey Line at y' Distance of five miles and a half from 
S'' Brantrey Line, and whereas there is a small Tract of Land in the 
Southeast Corner of this Town, Set off to y' north precinct in Bridg- 
water, that there be half so much Land as there is Set off to Bridgwater 
as above said taken off to y° Southwest of y' above mentioned Line at 
y' Southeast end thereof to Ly to y" North or Northeast part. March 

y° 24th, 1739-40- 

Elkanah Billing. Ralph Pope. 

William Crane. Silas Crane. 

George Talbott. Samuel Billing. 

John Shepard. Charles Wentworth. 

Jeremiah Fuller and others, inhabitants of the southwestern 
part of Stoughton, in a petition to the General Court in 1740 

' See Appendix XII. 


alleged that in the part of the town where they Hved one third 
of the rate-payers desired to be set off by themselves. This 
petition was opposed by William Royall, Elkanah BiUings, 
Silas Crane, George Talbot, and Simon Stearns, a committee 
in behalf of the town. 

Edward Curtis. Theophilus Curtis, Nathaniel Hammond, 
and others residing in that part of Stoughton adjoining 
Bridgewater, petitioned to be set off to the latter town in 
1 74 1. To this the selectmen replied that the land which 
they represented as worthless, and which they called a 
" gore," was valuable land ; that the school farm of the 
town of Stoughton was situated in that part of the town, and 
that the annexation to Bridgewater would not only enrich 
a large and wealthy town, but would " deform " and cripple 
the town of Stoughton; moreover, that it removed the school 
farm not only into another town, but into another county. 
In regard to the distance which Curtis and others were obliged 
to send their children to attend school, the answer was that it 
was no uncommon thing for children in Stoughton to go three 
miles to school. 

When the war with Spain had been continued for two years, 
about four hundred and fifty young men of Massachusetts 
had perished from the unhealthiness of the climate. From 
our town James Hodge, aged twenty-one, Ebenezer Warren, 
aged thirty-seven, and Josiah Briggs, aged forty, enlisted in 
the company of Capt. Stephen Richards; and in Capt. 
Thomas Phillips's company went David Kenney and Edward 
Downes. The expedition commanded by Admiral Vernon, 
although not mentioned by Hutchinson, has had much light 
thrown upon it by our townsman, Ellis Ames, Esq. The 
" Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for 
1881" contains an article entitled "Expedition against Car- 
thagena." So dark and discouraging was the prospect that 
our people assembled at their place of prayer in obedience 
to the call for a public fast, and listened, both forenoon and 
afternoon, to such comfort as the good parson could draw 
from Deut. xxiii. 9, and Ex. xvii. 9-13. 

On the 3d of June, 1744, at fifteen minutes past ten in the 


morning, the people were attending public service ; Mr. Dun- 
bar had just begun the long prayer, when suddenly the meet- 
ing-house began to rock and pitch in a terrible manner. 
There was great excitement; some of the congregation ran 
out, and one or two were so alarmed that they went into fits. 
Mr. Dunbar stood unmoved through the terrible excitement, 
and kept his presence of mind ; and God graciously assisted 
him " to improve the providence." The day on which this 
earthquake took place was very hot, and the weather had 
been hot and dry without rain for some time. 

On July 8, 1757, about two o'clock in the afternoon, our 
town was again visited with an earthquake, and again on 
Oct. 24, 1843. The first sound was like a heavy explosion, 
and then continued like the rumbling of thunder for upwards 
of a minute, then died away ; the houses were sensibly shaken, 
and the dishes on the breakfast tables rattled. Nothing like 
it had occurred since 1727, when the Rev. Mr. Prince says, 
" At Dorchester the most terrible noise seemed to be among 
the Blue Mountains, which some then abroad concluded were 

Nathaniel Hubbard, our first moderator and one of our 
first selectmen, touches for a very short period the history 
of our town. He was the grandson of the Rev. William 
Hubbard, the historian of New England. His father was a 
prominent merchant of Boston, where Nathaniel was born 
Oct. 13, 1680. He graduated at Harvard College in 1698. 
His first appearance in Dorchester, as far as we know, was in 
1708, when he applied for permission to dig iron ore in the 
undivided lands. He received his commission of justice of 
the peace, April 29, 1713. He removed to the South Precinct 
of Dorchester, and was moderator of our precinct meeting in 
1718. He purchased of Capt. John Nelson the same year 
310 acres of land at a place then and now known as Green 
Lodge, which from 1726 to 1738, when the river became the 
line, was a part of Stoughton. His wife was the daughter of 
that Captain Nelson famous as one of the Council of Safety 
to whom Andros surrendered. Her mother was a sister of 
Governor Stoughton, and this was a part of his country- 


place. Judge Sewall records in his diary under date of Dec. 
IS, 1725, "Mrs. Elizabeth Hubbard, of Dorchester, is buried 
lamented." Her husband subsequently married Rebecca 
Gore. In 1723 he was a trustee of the Ponkapoag Indians. 
On May 8, 1729, he was appointed by Nathaniel Byfield his 
" Deputy Judge of Admiralty for the County of Bristol, The 
Province of Rhode Island, The Narraganset Country." In 
1741 Hutchinson says of him that "he was the oldest coun- 
sellor for the County of Bristol." He further adds " that he 
was a gentleman of amiable character, and filled the posts he 
sustained with applause." It is fair therefore to suppose 
that as he had been moderator of the town meetings at 
Dorchester, he brought to our first meeting not only all the 
knowledge requisite to the position, but that grace and dig- 
nity which distinguished the gentlemen of the provincial era. 
He held the position of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas 
until Jan. 24, 174S, when he was promoted to be Judge of 
the Supreme Court, which office he held till his death. He 
erected across the Neponset a bridge, which was called Hub- 
bard's Bridge. In 1759 this bridge became a public one, 
and was rebuilt by Dedham and Milton. 

Judge Hubbard removed to Rehoboth, where he died in 
1748. He was a man of marked ability and sound judgment, 
of commanding presence, and lived in a style of great mag- 
nificence for his time. 




NO New England town was complete without stocks and 
a pound. We have no njeans of fixing definitely the 
location or the time of the erection of the first stocks. It is 
probable that they were erected on Packeen Plain soon after 
the first settlers came here. In 1737 they had from exposure 
to the weather fallen into decay, and the selectmen employed 
Preserved Lyon to make a new pair. He was dismissed from 
Milton Church, Nov. 9, 173S, and with Joanna Vose, whom 
he had married July 12, 171 1, removed to Canton. He was 
a resident of Packeen ; his house stood near the junction of 
Elm and Pecunit streets. He was so small on the day of his 
birth, Sept. 10, 1688, that his parents put him into a quart 
tankard and shut down the cover ; and he lived to be ninety- 
six years of age, dying July 14, 1785. 

Tradition informs us that he was an excellent workman, 
and the fact is substantiated by his being employed to erect 
the first schoolhouse, and also in 1747 the third meeting- 
house. Mr. Lyon obtained the plank for the new stocks at 
the saw-mill, framed them at his home, and carted them to 
the place assigned, paying to Mr. Josiah Kenney — whose 
blacksmith shop- stood on Cherry Hill, between the school- 
house and Cherry Tavern, near to his one-story gambrel- 
roofed house — " fifteen shillings for y° irons." 

Lyon's stocks lasted until 1759, when they became decayed, 
and new ones were made by William Cunningham, who ar- 
rived in town with his wife and three children, Nov. 7, 1749. 
He purchased five acres of land with an orchard, from John 
Withington, and in 1764 fourteen acres from the minister 


Morse estate, all of which was situated west of the Catholic 
Cemetery. It is probable that his house was partially framed 
from the timbers of the old meeting-house when it was pulled 
down. A portion of this land still goes by his name, though 
pronounced in the old-fashioned way, as if spelled Kuinecum ; 
and the land owned by him is to this day known as Kuinecum. 

The Cunningham stocks lasted to the time of the Revo- 
lution. A new pair were erected in 1775, when William 
Wheeler, Jr., furnished the woodwork, and Samuel Blackman 
the irons. 

Sir Henry Maine says that there is nothing of greater 
antiquity in England than the village pound ; it is older than 
the King's Bench, and probably older than the kingdom. 
The first thing that our ancestors did as soon as they became 
incorporated, if not before, was to erect a pound. An article 
was inserted in the warrant " to consider and act upon the 
building of a pound." The town voted to build one, and in 
1727 it was finished. Its location is not a matter of record, 
but it probably stood with the stocks, near the meeting and 
school house. It did its duty until 1742, when Joseph Esty 
built a new one on the land of James Endicott; this site 
was selected by the selectmen as the most convenient, and 
Mr. Endicott received for the land, or the use of it, £y los. 
Again, in 1760, there are indications of another pound, which 
was situated in the centre of the village, and for which William 
Wheeler provided the timber. 

The next pound stood on the right-hand side of Pleasant 
Street as you drive toward Stoughton, just south of Beaver 
Brook, between that and the driveway that now leads to 
Charles Draper's factory. It was erected in 1789, the land 
having been purchased from Abijah Upham; and Joseph 
Bemis was requested by the town to draw up the specifica- 
tions for its construction. Its wall extended forty feet in 
each direction, and was six and one half feet in height; the 
stones gradually widened from eighteen inches at the top 
to a width of four feet at the ground. These stones, all 
procured within a few rods of the site, were capped with 
stout pieces of chestnut timber ten inches square. The en- 


trance was three feet in width and covered at the top with 
a large cubical stone. 

It must have reflected great credit on Lieut. Lemuel Gay 
when it was completed, for he was well skilled in the art of 
manipulating stone. 

The site of this pound had been selected when the towns 
now known as Canton and Stoughton were one, and it was 
used by the inhabitants of both villages. Eight years after 
the erection of the pound, when the first precinct desired to 
become a township and take upon itself the name of Canton, 
it was proposed that the Act of incorporation should contain 
a clause to the effect that the inhabitants of Stoughton should 
have liberty to impound cattle, horses, sheep, or swine as long 
as should suit their pleasure, and when they should no longer 
desire to drive their strays four miles to pound, — or in other 
words, when they should erect a new pound at their village, 
— the town of Canton would pay to the town of Stoughton 
their proportionate part of the value of the pound at the 
time the latter should cease to use it. There is no evi- 
dence that this was done. In the division of the common 
property of the towns, the pound remained with Canton ; but 
its situation was as inconvenient to the new town as it had 
been to ancient Stoughton, and, April 8, 1835, it was torn 
down, the stones used as the foundation for a factory in its 
immediate vicinity, and a new one was erected at Canton 
Corner, on Dedham Street, opposite the Leeds house. This 
was built by Capt. William McKendry, who built the meeting- 
house in 1824. It was completed in September, 1835, and 
he received for his labor forty dollars. This pound remained 
until February, 1841, when it was removed to its present site 
in the rear of the old Town-House. 

Among the curious old customs was the bringing of wolves, 
blackbirds, squirrels, and wild-cats to the selectmen, in con- 
formity to an Act passed by the General Court in 1 740, to 
prevent damage to Indian corn and other grain, which pro- 
vided that " whoever shall kill any crows, blackbirds, gray 
or ground squirrels, shall bring their heads to any one of the 
selectmen, who shall cut or deface the same, and give a re- 


ceipt to the party bringing them, which shall be duly allowed 
by the town treasurer at the rate fixed by law; viz., for 
blackbirds unfledged, twelve pence per dozen; for grown 
blackbirds, three shillings ; for each crow, sixpence ; and for 
each squirrel, fourpence." In 1741 the town paid this bounty 
as follows : on thirty-two young blackbirds, on one hundred 
and seventy-five old blackbirds, and on five hundred and 
thirty-five squirrels. Ebenezer Bacon received ten shillings 
for killing a young wild-cat, which in the judgment of the 
selectmen was under the age of one year. In 1744 Charles 
Wentworth received £s i^s. 8d. for blackbirds and squirrels, 
Joseph Hewins £2 lis. a^., and Moses Gill killed five hun- 
dred squirrels. For killing a wolf the sum of ;^i was allowed ; 
and in 1733 Thomas Ahauton received that sum for a full- 
grown wild-cat, and John Shepard £2 for two. Persons were 
also appointed to inform against the breaches of an Act passed 
in 1698, to prevent the killing of deer between January i and 
August I. In 1 741 Robert Redman and Elkanah Billings 
performed this office ; and the custom appears to have been 
continued into the present century, when it became a matter 
of ridicule and was given to the oldest man in town. 

A curious custom existed among our ancestors of " warning 
out." In 1692 an Act was passed that any person who so- 
journed or dwelt in a town three months without being 
warned out, thereby became an inhabitant, unless they were 
imprisoned or lawfully restrained or had come for the pur- 
pose of medical attendance or education. By the Act of 
1700 and 1739, the time was extended to twelve months. In 
I 'jS'j an Act was passed that no person could gain an inhabit- 
ancy by length of time, unless admitted at general town meet- 
ing; but in 1789 it was again necessary to warn out persons 
within a year, in order to prevent their gaining a residence. 
The town, acting under the authority of the General Court, 
took the precaution to warn out all strangers from the town, 
in order that if they were poor, or likely to become so, the 
town would not be responsible for their support; and it was 
the duty of all heads of families to immediately inform the 
selectmen of a town of the name, age; occupation, and pre- 


vious residence of the new-comer, whether he or she were 
married or single, and whether he or she were in good 

The following is one of these letters of information : — 

Stoughton, Dec. 21, 1736. 
For the Selectmen of the Town of Stoughton : 

Gentlemen, — These are to inform you that Parmk Maden, a young 
man by trade a nailer, is come from Dorchester to live with me, as also 
Hezekiah Meroh, a lad to live with me as a prentice, and have been 
with me about a fortnight. 

Isaac Royall. 

We may observe in passing that this Irish lad, whose father 
was a fisherman at Savin Hill, subsequently married, Feb. 8, 
1753, Mary Tolman, and had a son Amariah Meroh, who was 
-born May 14, 1757. He was in the Revolutionary service 
about six years, chiefly in short enlistments. He went to Sorel, 
Trois Rivieres, Montreal, Ticonderoga, and was subsequently 
at West Point. He was with the detachment at Cambridge 
guarding the troops of Burgoyne, but was never in any en- 
gagement. Being of a practical turn, he sold his rations of 
rum to the Indians for bear-skins. In 1784 he left Stoughton, 
and purchased a farm in Union, Maine, on which his son was 
living in 1825. Amariah was for many years chairman of the 
selectmen of that town. 

Sometimes these notifications were not complimentary. 
In 1734, when James Phillips arrived in town, the select- 
men are informed that " he has several hundred acres of 
land in Connecticut, but that a glass of good liquor stands 
a very narrow chance when it lies in his way. Yet it 
quickly gets the mastery of him when they come to close 

If the fathers of the town thought there was any danger 
of the new-comers becoming a public charge, they immedi- 
ately issued their warrant, directed to one of the constables 
of the town. The following is one of these warning-out 
warrants : — 


Stoughton, ss. 
To Either of y Constables of Stoughton in y County of Suffolk, 
Greeting : 

Whereas, the Selectmen of Stoughton have been informed that there 
is one Scipio Lock and his wife, two free Negros, at a house belonging 
to Mr. Benj. Everenden in Stoughton, which came Sept. from Bran- 
tree in s'd County to resid in this Town, — these are therefore to 
require you in His Majesty's name to warn y'^ s'd Scipio and wife to 
depart this Town within fourteen days after warning gave them, or 
they will be deltwith as to Law and Justice belongs. Dated at Stough- 
ton afore s'd September y' 28th, A. D. 1 759, in y° 33d year of His Maj- 
estys Reign. Make Return hereof and of y° doings' herein to myself, 
as soon as may be. Per Order of y" Selectmen. 

Wm. Royall, Town Clerk. 

This wfarrant was placed in the hands of one of the consta- 
bles, in this case of Isaac Fenno, Jr., who a few years after was 
to have his brains dashed out by falling from the tower of the 
meeting-house. Fenno, having seen the party described, 
writes on the warrant his attestation of the fact : — 

Suffolk, ss. Stoughton, October y= 8th, 1759. 

By Virtue of this warrant I have wamed the within named Scipio 
Lock .to depart out of this Town with his wife within fourteen Days 
warning given them, or they wiU be delt with as Law and Justice 

Isaac Fenno, Jr., Constable. 

An article also appeared in the town warrant " to see if the 
town will maintain a negro man, Scipio Lock, or try to. get rid 
of him by standing a lawsuit." 

Another custom of old times was to apprentice the children 
of the poor to some person willing to instruct them in a 
trade, thereby relieving the town of the burden of their sup- 
port, and at the same time fitting them for the duties of life 
when they should attain their majority. 

The following is a copy of an old form of an apprentice 
indenture : — 

This Indenture Witnesseth that we, Elkanah Billings, William Royall, 
Herekiah Gay, Joseph Billings, and Daniel Richards, Selectmen, and 


overseers of the poor, of the town of Stoughton, in the County of Suf- 
folk, in New England, by and with the consent of two of His Majes- 
ties Justices of the peace for said County, have placed, and by the 
said parents do place and bind out, Alexander Loghead, a poor child 
belonging to said Stoughton, unto John Sumner, Tanner, of the same 
town and County aforesaid, and to Hannah his wife, and their heirs. 
And with them after the manner of an apprentice to dwell and live 
from the day of the date of these presents, until the 19th day of Jan- 
uary, which will be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hun- 
dred and sixty-three, at which time the said apprentice, if he survive, 
will arrive at the age of twenty-one years. During all which said term, 
th^ said apprentice his said Master and Mistris, &c., well and faith- 
fully shall serve, their secrets shall keep, their commands Lawful and 
honest everywhere he shall gladly obey. He shall do no damage to 
his master, nor suffer it to be done by others, without giving reason- 
able notice thereof to his said master, &c. He shall not waste the 
goods of his said master, &c., nor lend them unlawfully to any ; at 
cards, dice, or any other unlawful game or games, he shall not play ; 
fornication he shall not commit ; matrimony he shall not contract ; tav- 
erns, ale houses, or places of gaming he shall not haunt nor frequent ; 
from the service of his said master, &c., by day nor night, he shall not 
absent himself. But in all things and at all times he shall carry and 
behave himself toward his said master and all theirs as a good and 
faithful apprentice ought to do, to his utmost ability during all the 
time and term aforesaid. And he, the said John Sumner, doth hereby 
covenant and agree for himself, his wife and heirs, to and with the 
said Elknah Billings, Wm. Royall, Herekiah Gay, Joseph Billings, and 
Daniel Richards, or their successors in said trust, to teach or cause 
the said apprentice to be taught the trade of a tanner, or else in the 
lieu and stead thereof to deliver and pay to him one yoak of steers 
three years old, and six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence in 
money, at the expiration of the aforesaid apprenticeship. And to 
learn said apprentice to read and write ; also that they shall and will 
well and truly find, allow unto, and provide for the said apprentice, 
sufficient and wholesome meat and drink, apparel, walking and lodg- 
ing neat and convenient for such an apprentice- during all the time 
aforesaid ; and at the end and expiration thereof shall dismiss their 
said apprentice with two good suits of apparel fit for all parts of his 
body, and suitable to his quality. 

IN TESTIMONY whereof the parties to these present indentures 
have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals the eighteenth 


day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred 
and fifty four and in the twenty-seventy year of the Reign of His Maj- 
esty King George the Second, &c. 

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered in the presence of 

John Sumner. 
Richard Hixson. 

John Rhoads. 

Consented to by Isaac Royall, yust. peace. 

Robert Spur. 

The custom of verifying the accuracy of weights and meas- 
ures is of very ancient origin. It was an old English custom ; 
the government of England made regulations in regard to 
weights and measures, long before the time of Magna Charta; 
and as early as the time of Henry VII., Parliament introduced 
the system of sending weights and measures to the chief offi- 
cers of the town, to be proved. 

In 1761, according to the order of Jeremiah Ingraham, sealer 
of vifeights and measures, all persons were required in his Maj- 
esty's name to bring their weights and measures, both great 
and small, to the dwelling-house of the sealer, and there have 
them tried, proved, and sealed, as the law directs. 

In early days the inhabitants were much troubled by 
rattlesnakes, of which there Were very many in town. In 
Sharon there is a hill still called Rattlesnake Hill, and on the 
old Bay road is Rattlesnake Plain. In 1743 Rattlesnake Rock 
at Packeen is mentioned ; it is still to be seen near the junc- 
tion of Pecunit and Elm streets. It is asserted that the burn- 
ing of the woodlands from time to time has exterminated 
them. The Blue Hills have always been noted as an especial 
haunt of the snakes, which, to this day, are sometimes killed 
in the vicinity. Young Strowbridge was bitten by a rattle- 
snake, July 27, 1791. Dr. Puffer, who was reputed to have a 
sure remedy against the poison, was sent for ; but before he 
arrived, the boy was dead. 

In 1 807 Polly Billings was bitten in Randolph Woods. She 
was unable to reach home, but walked three quarters of a mile 
to the Widow Jerusha Wentworth's in great distress. 

I often lamented in my boyish days, when the story of the 


Strowbridge boy was related to me by my father, that so 
efificacious a remedy should have been lost to the world, 
more especially to the boys of Canton; but twenty years 
after, among my collection of old almanacs, dating from 
1747 to 1883, I found in that of 1771 the following: — 

A sure and certain cure for the bite of a Rattle-Snake made Pub- 
lic by Abel Puffer, of Stoughton. 

As soon as may be after the Person is bit, cut a Gash or Split in 
the Place where the Bite is, as the Teeth went in, and fill it full of fine 
Salt. Take common Plantain and pound it, add a little Water to it, 
then squeeze out the Juice, and mix it with clean Water ; then make 
a strong Brine with fine Salt and the Juice, till it will not dissolve the 
salt ; then make a Swath or bandage with Linnen Cloth, and bind it 
around just above the swelling (but not too tight); then wet the Band- 
age with the before-mentioned Brine, and keep it constantly wet with 
the Brine, — for it will dry very fast, — and keep stroking the Part with 
your Hands as hard as the Patient can bear, towards the Cut you 
made, and you will soon see the Poison and virulent Matter flow out 
of the Cut ; and it will often flow so fast that it will swell below the 
Cut, and if it should, you must cut below the swelling to let out the 
vimlent Matter, and it will not leave running till it is discharged. You 
must keep the Bandage moving downwards as the Swelling abates. It 
is proper to give the Patient something to defend the Stomack, as 
Sweet Oil, Safron, or Snake Root It very often bleeds after the 
Poison is out ; but be not surprised at that, — it is Good for it. It will 
run some time after the Poison is out ; there must be Care taken that 
none of the poison that runs out gets to any sore, or raw Flesh, for it 
will Poison the Person. 

I expect that sonie will slight this Publication, for the Remedies 
being so simple a Thing ; but I hope no one will so slight it, if he is 
bit, as to neglect trying the Experiment, and the Effect will prove what 
I have said to be true. I should not have published this had I not 
been certain of its performing the Cure by my own Experience ; for I 
have cured two Persons dangerously bit, and a Horse and Dog, with 
no other Thing but what is mentioned in the before Direction, and 
make this Public for the Benefit of Mankind, tho I have been offier'd 
a considerable Sum by some Persons to make it known to them, but 
then it must be kept as a secret. 

Abel Puffer. 

Stoughton, Oct. 4th, 1770. 


In 1757 Shubael Wentworth, Isaac Fenno, Adam Black- 
man, William Wheeler, Paul Wentworth, and others, having 
been much annoyed and alarmed at the large number of 
rattlesnakes in the town, desired that a premium, or bounty, 
be offered by the town for each one killed. The town voted 
that it would give one shilling for each rattlesnake killed in 
the town, the person claiming the bounty to bring " the rattle 
and an inch of y° tail joining y^ rattle." William Royall killed 
twelve, and John Atherton five. In 1771 William Shaller 
killed sixty-four snakes; and in 1793 the selectmen were re- 
quested to write letters to the adjoining towns in which there 
were dens of rattlesnakes and see what action might be taken 
to destroy them. 

In 1 808 appears this record : — 

" March 7. Voted to pay a bounty of one dollar per head or tail 
for every Rattlesnake absolutely taken & killed within the town in the 
months of April, May, & October the present year." 

Hon. Charles Endicott, in his centennial address in 1876, 
said : — 

" Practically this was very much like offering a bounty of two dol- 
lars for each snake killed, and very likely it was found to be so, for the 
next year the town voted the same sum for rattiesnakes' tails, and 
cautioned the treasurer ' to guard against deception when he is ap- 
plied to for such bounties.' " 

As late as 1834 a bounty of fifty cents was offered by the 
town for every rattlesnake's tail. 

Another link in the chain which binds New England to 
Saxon England was an officer who was partly constable and 
partly a corrector of public manners and morals. He was 
called a tithing-man, not because he collected tithes, for he 
did not, but he seemed to exercise his duties only on Sunday. 
It was his business to prevent all driving, except of those 
who were going to church or could give a " life or death " 
reason for their profanation of the Lord's Day. All persons 
who walked out on the Sabbath, and especially those who 
were turbulent, fell under the ban of his displeasure, and re- 



ceived from him, except in aggravated cases, patriarchal 
counsel and fatherly guidance. He looked into the meeting- 
house to see who was absent, and then went into the byways 
and the fields to find the erring wanderers from the fold. 

An ancient custom of distinguishing cattle and sheep by 
artificial marking was in vogue in this town in early times. 
We have never seen a hst of owners with the marks attached, 
but the following will show the method pursued : — 

" A white ram, with a half penny cut out of y'= under side of y° left 
ear, with three strokes of tar on his right side. 

" A white ram, having two small horns. One of them bends towards 
his right eye. He hath a swallow tail cut out of his left ear, and two 
half penny ; to wit, one on y° upper side, y° other on y* under side of 
y' same ear. 

" A white ram. No horns. He hath a small black spot on the tip 
of his right ear ; he hath no artificial marks. 

" A white ram, having a cross cut out of y" right ear, and a half cross 
off y^ left ear. 

" A white ram, having a deep slit in each of his ears and the under 
side of each ear cut off about half way from y' tip of y' ears to y° bot- 
tom of said slits. No horns." 

Perambulation, or beating the bounds, is another old cus- 
tom that has come down to us from our English ancestry ; 
and to this day the law requires that the town lines be re- 
viewed at stated times. The English custom since the time 
of Elizabeth made it obligatory once a year ; and the substan- 
tial men of the parish, and the boys of the parochial school, 
turned out and walked over the bounds, while the parish 
beadle and the curate in his cossack read from the psalm, 
" Cursed be he which translateth the bounds and doles of his 
neighbors." The days allotted to this work, or pleasure, were 
called Gauge Days ; and at certain parts of the boundaries the 
village boys were " bumped," — that is, swung against a tree or 
stone or post, — that the location might forever remembered 
be. Sometimes the boys were flogged, in order to impress the 
precise locality of the landmark on their memories. 

In early days the boundaries were defined in a simple and 
primitive manner. The General Court considered that a great 


heap of stones, or a trench six feet long and two feet broad, 
were sufficient indications of a boundary. 

The following is a specimen of the manner of procedure. 
The oldest town informed the adjoining town of its purpose 
to perambulate the line in these words : — 

To the Selectmen of the Town of Stoughton : 

Gentlemen, — These come to desire you, by yourselves or agents, 
to meet with Lieut Richard Thayer and Lieut John Adams, agents 
for the selectmen of the town of Braintree, at the house of Mr Ben- 
jamin Crane, of Milton, on Monday, the thirteenth of April next, at 
nine o'clock in the forenoon, in order to perambulate the line and 
renew the bounds between the said towns of Braintree and Stoughton, 
-as the law directs. ■ 

Gentlemen, we are your humble servants, 

John Quincy. 

William Hunt. 

Ebenezer Asplend. 

The return of one of these perambulations is as follows : 

We, the subscribers, being met by appointment upon the third day 
■of September, 1740, to perambulate the line between the towns of 
Dedham and Stoughton, — we began at y° bridge at y= north of y° Roe- 
buck Tavern in Stoughton, and followed the northermost branch of 
Traphole brook until we came to Walpole line, near which we erected 
-a heap of stones, at y' root of a black ash tree, which we marked with a 
letter D on y° north side, and S on y" south side. But inasmuch as y'= 
hounds between said towns is a wet line, it admitted of no renewing. 

John Everett, \ Agents for 
Richard Everett, ) Dedham. 

George Talbott, \ . , , 

^ „ / Agents for 

Jeremiah Fuller, \ „^ ,/ 

■1 „ I Stoughton. 

John Shepard, ; 

About 1830, stones were erected to designate the boundaries. 

The drinking customs of Canton were not unlike those of 
other towns. The sideboards were ornamented with decan- 
ters of rum, brandy, and gin ; the latter was considered the 
ladies' drink. The first question a visitor was asked on enter- 


ing the hospitable mansion of a Canton farmer was, " What 
will you take?" If the visitor refused to drink, — which was 
an almost unheard-of occurrence, — he was suspected of slight- 
ing the kindness of his host. Not to offer wine to all guests 
was an insult. Mrs. Abigail Maynard, who died at the age of 
ninety-two years, on June 19, 1882, informed me that having 
called with her mother on a neighbor, and no drink having 
been offered them, she, although a child, noticed this breach of 
good manners, and remarked afterward : " Mother, they did n't 
offer us anything to drink." The Canton boy of seventy-five 
years ago was almost at birth initiated into the mysteries of 
alcoholic mixtures. If he cried as a baby, a little rum with 
sugar was administered ; and if his trouble amounted to a 
pain, a teaspoonful of brandy slightly diluted with water was 
given to quiet him. Should he survive all these doses and 
with health and vigor arrive at years of discretion or attain 
his majority, his freedom-day was the occasion of a grand 
entertainment, when liquor flowed copiously. When the in- 
tention of his marriage was droned by the clerk on Sunday 
in the meeting-house, the happy man was in due time called 
upon by his companions, and all drank in anticipation of 
the happiness in store for him; and when the day of his 
wedding arrived, the house of the bride was filled with 
friends and guests, who drank to his future health and 
happiness. The birth of each child furnished an excuse 
for treating his friends. 

In 1809, when the schoolhouse was raised, much liquor 
was consumed. When the old meeting-house was raised in 
1747, Nathaniel May was chosen on the committee to pro- 
vide for the raising; and when it was pulled down, rum and 
brandy were provided for the rope-pullers ; but more aston- 
i.shing than all is that at the visitation of schools during this 
century it should have been thought necessary that liquor 
should be furnished. 

My father, who came to Canton in 1822, has told me of the 
drinking habits of the people in his day. He determined to re- 
fuse all invitations to drink while making his parochial visits. 
One clergyman from a neighboring town was so overcome 


by the hospitality of Canton friends that he and his wife 
went away, leaving their baby behind them. 

Thus our old townsmen lived ; and when the last bowl of 
toddy had been emptied, the last glass of flip taken, and- 
the sympathizing friends and neighbors met at the house of 
the deceased to pay the last sad rites, a table was spread, upon 
which liquors of all kinds were placed. 

In 1830 Hon. Thomas French writes: — 

" It is doubtful if there are any licensed houses in town after Sep- 
tember. I expect the town will vote not expedient to have licensed 

In 1833, according to Deacon Jeremiah Kollock, the first 
attempt was made to bring about some reformation in these 
customs. They had become a disgrace ; liquor was no longer 
pure ; and delirium tremens, which had been unknown among 
the early settlers, began to show as a result. 

About 1834 a number of gentlemen met at Everett's Hall. 
Deacon Kollock thus describes the condition of affairs at that 
time: — / 

"The use of wine, beer, cordials, and cider were considered harm- 
less, and in many cases actually useful. The leading men in this 
organization were Thomas French, Esq., who was the president, 
Deacon Ezra Tilden, Leonard Everett, Esq., Theodore Abbott, Jona- 
than Messinger, Elisha White, Elijah Spare, Dr. Simeon Tucker, and 
many others I cannot now recall. I think they held meetings once a 
month and talked over the subject. The ideas then advanced seem 
to us at this day very peculiar. They thought the drunkard could 
never use the milder drinks for the purpose of intoxication, and by 
discountenancing the use of rum, brandy, and gin, and trying to stop 
the sale of these, we should break down the tide of drunkenness 
that was ruining some of the best men, never thinking that drunkards 
formed the appetite in the use of wine, beer, and cordials. Thus 
things moved on until 1837, when those who had taken an interest in 
the discussions of the old society, and the young men, from the light 
that dawned in upon them, began to feel it was time to take a step 
forward. After much discussion this resolution resulted in the organi- 
zation of the Young Men's Temperance Union. We met weekly in the 
vestry under the Baptist church, and discussed the subject, obtained 
lecturers^ etc. After the passage of the Fifteen-Gallon Law in 1838, 


we commenced prosecutions, and tried every means in our power to 
stop the sale without success ; we were branded as a set of young 
fanatics. All the plans laid to get evidence against those who sold, 
would leak out before they could be executed. At this juncture a 
proposition was made that the whole business of prosecutions be left 
to a committee of nine, to be chosen by the society, and that said 
committee should keep its own secrets. The result was that after 
much labor by the committee, both by day and night, we obtained a 
large number of cases against some of the prominent traders and all 
the hotel-keepers in town (these hotel-keepers were among the leading 
men in town), and had them all arraigned before Judge Leland at 
Ellis Ames's office the same day. We proved all our charges ; and 
they were all heavily fined. This was managed so quietly that the 
society had no knowledge of what was going on until the trial came off. 
This came like a thunderbolt on the rum traffic, and put an entire 
stop to the sale for a longer period than has been since. I cannot 
recall all the names active in this society, there have been so many 
changes, but I will give those that recur to me at this moment : 
Ezekiel Capen, V. J. Messinger, V. A. Messinger, Abner T. Upham,. 
A. E. Tucker, Charles K. Whitney, Charles F. Hard, William Bullock,. 
Rufus S. Preble, Theodore Abbott, Timothy Kaley, Uriah Billings, 
Charles W. Harden, and many others which I might recall on further 

In writing of the Washingtonian movement. Rev. Edwin 
Thompson says : — 

" In 1840 the Bolivar factory was destroyed by fire, and Jonathan 
Messinger was its agent and one of the principal owners. He was 
always friendly, and a cordial welcome in his family was always given. 
He and his sons, Virgil and Vernon, were among the early friends of 
temperance in the town ; also Abner T. Upham, an overseer in the 
mill, was equally interested. In 1840 there was a temperance excite- 
ment in which Hon. Nathan Crosby of Lowell, agent of the Massa- 
chusetts Temperance Union, was the principal speaker. The same 
year we had a popular Lyceum course, and Rev. Charles Kimball, 
Rev. M. Clark, Mr. Walworth, of the firm of Walworth & Nason, 
were among the speakers who kept up a hvely interest. It was at the 
house of my friend Simeon Presbrey that I first learned of the Wash- 
ingtonian movement. Mr. Presbrey said, ' There is a new movement 
in Boston among the reformed men.' I shall always remember Mr. 
Presbrey as a warm, sincere, and genial friend. Among the old 


friends of temperance, other than those I have already mentioned, are 
Elisha White, Leonard Everett, Hon. Thomas French, Deacon Capen, 
Deacon Kollock, and James White." 

The following composition was sung during the Washing- 
tonian days ; it was composed by a gentleman then residing 
in Canton. 

" Fallen is thy throne, O Alcohol ! 

Thy reign is passed and gone ; 

Thy ruined halls are desolate ; 

Thy slaves to freemen born. 

Where now those fires that fed thee 

Thro' sorrow's blighted home ; 

Those flames, from hell that led thee 

O'er misery's path to roam ? 

" Once thou didst boast o'er Canton 
' That we were all thine own ; 

Thou claimed us as thy heritage, 

Liege subjects to thy throne. 

But Temperance' torch has lighted 

The deadly upas-tree ; 

And Canton's shrines are lighted 

For other gods than thee. 

" Come forth, ye Washingtonians ; 
Raise all your voices high ; 
Sing down those rum establishments, 
Whence come the mourners' sigh. 
Come, Canton's sons and daughters. 
Let Love your efforts crown, 
Till Alcohol, in all quarters. 
Is banished from your town." 

On the 13th of August, 1849, the Rev. Theobald Mathew, 
the distinguished Irish apostle of total abstinence, visited 
Canton. The Massapoag Division, Sons of Temperance, 
met him at the station by a committee; and the carriage 
of Lyman Kinsley with its famous " silver manes and tails " 
was placed at his disposal. Father Mathew was escorted to 
Endicott's grove by a procession of citizens, where an ad- 
dress of welcome was delivered by Rev. Benjamin Huntoon. 
Father Mathew then delivered one of his characteristic 
speeches, after which many persons signed the pledge. 



THE first indication we have that the town of Stoughton 
was dissatisfied with its old meeting-house, either on 
account of its size or condition, was evinced at a meeting 
held on Nov. i, 1739. It was voted that the article in the 
warrant which had reference to the building of a meeting- 
house, and granting money therefor, be continued until the 
next March meeting. The matter was thus disposed of. It 
was often discussed in town meeting, and as often voted down ; 
nor was it until October, 1745, that a vote was obtained in 
favor of building a new meeting-house. Having determined 
to erect a new house of worship, the inhabitants in the first 
precinct decided that it should be placed near the old one, 
on the land owned by the parish. Preserved Lyon, James 
Endicott, and Silas Crane were chosen a committee to pro- 
cure the materials for building the house ; and it was decided 
that the building should be fifty-four feet in length, thirty- 
four feet in breadth, and twenty-four feet high. It was 
originally intended to have a steeple, after the manner of 
the Dofchester meeting-house. Money to the amount of 
;^i,500, old tenor, was granted by the precinct; and it was 
deemed advisable to add three more gentlemen to the build- 
ing committee, to provide for raising the meeting-house. 
The house was raised on the 4th of July, 1747. After the 
building was completed, and had been in use for some time, 
some of the inhabitants wanted a porch erected at the east 
end of the church ; but it was not looked upon favorably by 
the precinct. Thomas Shepard, Ezekiel Fisher, and Stephen 
Badlam offered afterward to build this porch at their own 
expense. A request to build four pews in the two south 


corners of the meeting-house was received with better favor, 
and assented to. Two committees were chosen to see in 
what manner the pews in the new meeting-house should be 
disposed of; but neither of the two reports appear to have 
been satisfactory to the parish, the first report advising that 
the pews be disposed of to the highest bidder, provided he be 
a free-holder and an inhabitant of the parish, and that those 
who stand the highest on the real-estate valuation list have 
the preference. The report of the second committee recom- 
mended that the pews be settled upon those that were rated 
the highest last year for real estate, — the man rated the 
highest to have his first choice by paying the price of the 
highest pew, and so on until all the pews were disposed of, 
the parish finally deciding that the twenty-nine persons whose 
valuation was the highest were to draw the pews, the two 
highest to have their choice, paying the highest prices ; and 
so on until the pews were all taken up. The money obtained 
from the sale of the pews was appropriated toward paying for 
the erection of the house, and the money received from the 
sale of the old meeting-house was devoted to the same pur- 
pose. The house was not finished for some years. In 1750 
the parish voted to do something toward finishing it; and 
yet in 1752 it was not done, and the building committee 
were forbidden to do anything more toward finishing the 
meeting-house until further orders.^ 

On the 26th of October, 1747, although the meeting-house 
was by no means completed, the ceremony of dedication took 
place. Mr. Dunbar, then in the twenty-second year of his 
pastorate, preached the sermon from Isa. Ix. 7, — "I will 
glorify the house of my God." The following Sabbath, ser- 
vices were held in the new meeting-house for the first time. 
This meeting-house was the third erected by the town. It 
was located within what is now the town's cemetery. It 
stood about forty feet from the modern street, and forty-four 
feet nearer the street than its predecessor of 1707-47, about 
ten feet intervening between the rear of the one and the front 
of the other. 

1 See Appendix XIII. 


The house did not differ materially from the other meeting- 
houses of its day. Its exterior was pierced with a double 
row of windows. The snows of winter and the rains of sum- 
mer gave it a color which, innocent of paint until 1790, was 
not peculiar to itself, but uniform with most if not all of 
the houses in town. It had entrances on three sides, — on 
the southeast, facing the street, on the southwest, and on the 
northeast. The appearance of the house on the outside was 
very plain; no ornamentation was visible. It had not the 
golden pineapple, with its green leaves, to delight the chil- 
dren of that generation, which was once so conspicuous on 
the present church, and which, long years ago, we gazed at 
with infantile delight, although of late years this golden pine- 
apple has been painted like the rest of the house. The roof 
was a common pitch-roof, not unlike that of the present 
meeting-house. Near it was a row of sheds, or stables, ca- 
pable of holding one horse and wagon each. The liberty to 
erect these sheds on the parish property, " nigh the meeting- 
house," was granted in 1749 to Joseph Esty and others. In 
1764 the same privilege was granted to John McKendry, 
Elijah Crane, John Davenport, Jr., Elijah Dunbar, and Seth 
Pierce, the sheds to be on the back side of the meeting-house ; 
and again in 1765 sheds adjoining the "buerael" place were 
erected by Benjamin Gill and William Crane. There were 
also two horse-blocks for the assistance of the ladies in 
mounting the pillion. Here they awaited the arrival of their 
husbands or sweethearts. From the entrance, which faced 
on the modern street, a central broad aisle ran directly to the 
pulpit ; on either side were oblong pews, while a row of square 
pews extended around the walls, broken only by the pulpit 
and the entrances. These wall-pews were raised one short 
step above the aisle. The pews, backs and partitions, were 
so high that but little except the heads of the sitting occu- 
pants could be seen ; and a part of the congregation were 
obliged, from the shape of the pews, to sit with their backs 
to the pulpit. The seats in these pews were a curiosity in 
their way. The seat was a board lid, hung on hinges, which 
were attached to the side of the pew; and the seats, when in 


use, were kept in position by a movable support in front. 
The seats were turned up when the congregation rose in 
prayer, and let down again when the prayer was ended. It 
was a delicate matter to adjust these seats, and was always 
provocative of more or less noise; and it sometimes happened 
that an unlucky tyro, unaware whether the lid-seat had been 
let down or not by another in the pew, near the conclusion 
of a long and solemn peroration, came to grief, and found 
himself seated upon the floor, with a clatter and a bang, 
much to the amusement of the boys and the horror of the 
elders, especially those who were appointed to keep the boys 
from playing in time of meeting. On the northwest side 
stood the pulpit, high up against the wall. It was reached 
by a flight of steps, which were placed on the minister's 
right, and protected by a balustrade. Beneath the pulpit, 
and directly in front of it, were the deacons' seats, the occu- 
pants of which faced the congregation. In 1769 these seats 
were brought out as far in the alley as the lower step of the 
pulpit. Over the head of the minister was the old-fashioned 
sounding-board, not suspended from the ceiling, as the one 
in the " Old South " at Boston is, but attached to the side of 
the meeting-house. Directly behind the pulpit was an oval 
window. The galleries were on three sides of the house ; in 
these were five long seats. Those persons who had no pews 
sat there, — the men in the southwest gallery, the women in 
the northeast. There were no seats in the galleries until 
1754. In 1787 thirteen were added in the front gallery.. The 
gallery directly opposite the pulpit was devoted to the sing- 
ers, who stood around a table ; and after singing, the singers 
turned and faced the minister. 

In the meeting-houses early in the last century we hear 
nothing of pews ; in fact, the first church had no pew ex- 
cept for the minister's family, but was furnished with long 
seats, and the males and females sat respectively on the left 
and the right hand sides. The older persons occupied the 
front seats, the middle-aged the next; and in the west gallery 
were the boys, under the charge of some competent person 
or persons. After the new church was built, families sat in 


the same pew ; and the pews nearest the pulpit were consid- 
ered the most desirable, and were occupied by those who laid 
claim to the highest standing in the parish, the wealthy and 
influential having the best seats. The men all sat nearest to 
the door of the pew, in order to be ready to start upon an 
alarm, — a custom which, said to have originated in Indian 
times, has continued long after the occasion for it has been 
forgotten. The pew-doors were panelled with something of 
elaborateness. The following are the names of those persons 
who met on the loth of October, 1748, and selected twenty- 
nine of the pews : — 

Old Tenor. 

Isaac Royal Esq. & William Royal . . . No. 1 2 at £44 

John Davenport No. 11 at 44 

Majr. John Shepard No. 13 at 42 

Cap. Charles Wentworth No. 14 at 42 

Joseph Hartwell No. 22 at 40 

John Billing No. 17 at 40 

James Endicot No. 16 at 40 

Robert Redman No. 4 at 40 

D'n Silas Crane No. 2 at 39 

Joseph Fenno No. 15 at 39 

John Fenno No. 6 at 39 

William Billing, Junr No. 5 at 39 

Lieut. William Billing No. 20 at 37 

Thomas Jordan No. Sat 37 

Joseph Jordan No. 28 at 37 

Timothy Jones No. 21 at 37 

Philip Liscom No. 10 at 35 

Joseph Billing No. 3 at 35 

John Wentworth No. 23 at 35 

John Puffer, Junr No. 27 at 35 

Ebenezer Clap No. 30 at 32 

Sion Morse No. 9 at 32 

Richard Stickney No. 26 at 32 

Michael Shaller & Stephen Billing . . . No. 25 at 32 

Jeremiah Ingraham No. i at 28 

Edward Baily No. 29 at 28 

Lieut. John Puffer No. 18 at 28 

John Pierce No. 19 at 25 

William Wheeler No. 7 at 21; 

Ministerial Pew . . No. 24 - 


In 1783 the back seats in the body of the meeting-house 
were sold to build pews, and were purchased by Adam Black- 
man, William Bent, George Jordan, and Isaiah Bussey. 

Over the porch which supported the belfry was a second 
small gallery, which was protected by lattice-work. This was 
at first intended for the use of the Indians, and was so 
placed in accordance with a vote of the precinct " that 
there should be a convenient seat or seats for the Indian in- 
habitants of Stoughton to sit in on the Sabbath." Very few, 
however, of the Ponkapoag tribe availed themselves of the 
opportunity; and in course of time, about 1788, these seats 
were occupied by colored people. The church must have 
been very cold in winter. Stoves or furnaces were not known 
in those days, and there was no way of heating such a 
large building. In 1799 the town refused a stove for the 
use of the meeting-house, but in 1818 agreed to accept one 
as a gift from the ladies. With its forty-five pounds of old 
funnel, it was sold to Gideon Mackintosh when the building 
was pulled down. In cold weather it was the custom of our 
ancestors to fill a small tin box, called a, foot-stove, with live 
coals from the open fireplace, before starting for church. 
The foot-stove was then placed in the wagon or sleigh, under 
the feet of the occupants. On arriving at the church, it was 
lifted by its bail and transferred to the pew, where it kept the 
feet of the worshipper warm. Twenty-five years ago I re- 
member seeing many of these foot-stoves in the present 
church ; but in all probability they were not much used. 
The steeple, or bell-tower, was not placed upon the meeting- 
house at the time of its erection ; but fifteen years later, on 
the 6th of October, 1762, it was framed and joined on to the 
main building. It was like a porch, and stood against the 
southwest end of the house, thus constituting a new entrance, 
in which were situated stairs leading to the gallery above. 
A porch, similar, but without a bell-deck, was constructed 
against the northeast end of the house. When this belfry 
was raised, a sad accident occurred. While the workmen 
were engaged in adjusting a rope attached to a crane, the 
rope broke, and Isaac Fenno, Jr., was precipitated to the 


ground and instantly killed, having fallen a distance of sixty- 
one feet. The Boston " Nevs Letter," of October 8, thus 
alludes to it: " On Wednesday last a sorrowful accident hap- 
pened at Stoughton. As a number of persons were raising 
the spire of the new meeting-house there, some of the tack- 
ling gave way, when Mr. Isaac Fenno, Jr., fell to the ground 
and was killed in an instant. He left a widow and four 

In 1805 the steeple had become so rotten that the town 
repaired it. 

On the 15 th of October, 1764, the precinct voted the sum 
of £4.8 to purchase a bell, the weight of which was to be 
four hundred pounds or upwards. The committee, however, 
thought that fifteen pounds would not matter much, and con- 
tracted for a bell weighing only three hundred and eighty-five 
pounds. The precinct, not being satisfied with this, voted on 
the 22d of July following to purchase a bell weighing six 
hundred and sixty-nine pounds, and " to pay the odds." 

In July, 1766, the first bell was placed in its proper position 
in the belfry, and for many years, imtil it was cracked by 
careless usage, sent forth its varying tones of joy or sor- 
row. It sounded many an alarm when the house of some 
early settler was in flames ; it rang joyfully on that August 
morning in 1769 when the news came that the hated Gov- 
ernor Bernard had left our shores ; and it rang the loud and 
sharp call to arms when the redcoats were marching on 
Lexington. Old Parson Dunbar heard its vivacious clamor, 
almost for the last time, when its tongue joined in the glad 
tidings of peace; its joyous peal again resounded when 
George Washington was proclaimed first President of these 
United States. Again its voice, sad and doleful, has pierced 
the heart of some mourner, as from the ancient church all 
that was mortal of a dear friend has been borne away; and 
it continued, as its successor does to-day, to strike the age of 
the dead on the morning after death, — a custom dear to the 
people of Canton from the fact that it is the last perpet- 
uated bj' us of the customs brought to this country by the 
early English settlers. 


Our mother town, Dorchester, continued until the middle 
of the last century, possibly later, the ringing of the curfew, 
and I was in hopes to find that her daughter, Canton, had 
stuck to the good old English custom; but I never heard 
mention of it, nor have I seen bills for the payment of the 
ringer. Mr. Aaron E. Tucker writes me as follows : — 

" It was a custom about 1840, and I think for a number of years, 
to have the Orthodox bell rung at sunrise, noon, and at nine o'clock 
in the evening. The expense was paid by subscribers j and Mr. Royall 
T KoUock, a deaf mute, was employed to do the work, who, although 
he lived a mile a,way, was always on time." 

The first bell was in use until 1790, when it was carried to 
Colonel Hobart's foundry at Abington by WilHam Wheeler 
and Adam Blackman. The sum of £\ \os. was paid for 
recasting it. It was ordered that the bell be rung at nine 
A. M. and one and a half p. M. ; and in 1803 that it be tolled 
on application of the friends of the dead, " expressive of 
their decease." In 18 10, from excessive wagging, the tongue 
of the bell became demorahzed ; and it was even a question 
of procuring a new bell in exchange for the old one. Ten 
years more passed, and I presume the tongue of the old bell 
was repaired, till in 1820 the matter was again agitated. 
Simeon Tucker, Thomas KoUock, and Frederic W. Lincoln 
were appointed a committee to get the bell recast whenever 
the expense should be borne by individuals. The following 
year it was voted that a bell weighing one thousand pounds 
be procured in exchange for the present one, and a com- 
mittee appointed to put it up at the expense of the parish. 
This bell was made at the foundry of Paul Revere. It was 
heavier than the old one, and was hung Dec. 21, 1824, in the 
belfry of the present meeting-house, where it still remains. 

In very early times it was the custom for the men and 
women to have separate seats in meeting, and the children 
were placed by themselves. Juvenile misdemeanors were 
sometimes so conspicuous in the midst of divine service that 
it was often necessary to take some action in town meeting 
in reference to the disturbances in meeting. Thus, in 1732, a 


committee was appointed " to inspect y" boys on y° sabbath." 
In 1734 the town voted that there be four men appointed 
whose duty it shall be " to take care of y° boys in our meeting 
house in time of pubhck worship on Sabbath days, to re- 
strain them from play." In 1739 a committee was appointed 
" to inspect y' youth on y' Sabbath in time of public worship 
in our meeting house, to inform against or moderately correct 
them as they should see fit." In 1744 Ezekiel Fisher and 
Nathaniel Stearns were appointed " to take care of and pre- 
vent playing at meeting on the Lord's day." In 1747 John 
Pierce was " to seat himself in the middle of y° hind seat in 
y front gallery and watch y° boys." Nathaniel Adams and 
Samuel Strowbridge helped him to perform that pleasant 
task; and two years later the burden was thrust upon Na- 
thaniel May, James Andrews, Enoch Lyon, Elihu Crane, and 
George Talbot, Jr., of keeping order over the boys on " Sab- 
oth" days. In 1750 Thomas Tolman sat with the youngsters, 
and was succeeded by Thomas Spurr and Paul Wentworth. 
In 1752 it was voted that those that were chosen to take care 
of the boys should bring them to the seats where they were 
ordered to sit, and George Talbot and Henry Crane attended 
to the matter. Under Capt. Abner Crane in 1767 the boys 
were subject to stricter discipline than ever. William Pat- 
rick, afterward killed by the Indians, took care of the young 
people in 1774. As late as 1803 it was necessary to post no- 
tices in the porch calling on the young people not to make a 
tarry after public worship had begun. 

Dogs were no less troublesome than boys. It seems to 
have been the custom to allow the dogs to follow the family 
to the meeting-house on Sunday. In 1749 an article was 
inserted in the warrant for the town meetings " to consider 
and act on some proper method to prevent ' Doggs ' coming 
to y° house of public worship in this town on y' Lords day," 
and the selectmen were desired to draw up some proper order 
or bylaw touching the matter. In 1809 the town voted to 
restrict dogs from frequenting the meeting-house, as " it was 
a disturbance to social worship," and the owner of any dog 
making such disturbance was to be fined fifty cents and pay 
the same to the sexton. 

i 1 * -■■ 









Attempts were made at various times to adorn and beautify 
the grounds by the planting of trees near the meeting-house. 
In 1794 Gen. Elijah Crane set out some trees, and his ex- 
ample was followed the next year by Col. Benjamin Gill. In 
1796 Colonel Gill, Captain Bent, and Elijah Dunbar set out 
trees. In 1802 the town appointed a committee to procure 
" Lombar de Poplar " trees, and " place them in such order 
around the Meeting House as shall tend to ornament and 
convenience." Twenty-four trees were accordingly planted, 
under the direction of the selectmen, and so well watered by 
Luther May that, thirteen years after, their growth had been 
so rapid that their tops were ordered to be cut off. When the 
ground was abandoned, all the standing wood was sold. 

In the days of which I am writing, two services were held 
on Sunday, both by daylight. The services consisted of 
extemporaneous prayers, sometimes fearfully long; the 
psalms were sung in metre, and it was considered sacrilegious 
to have any instrumental music. The sermon was divided 
into heads ; sometimes it lasted an hour, and sometimes an 
hour and a half. An hour-glass stood on the pulpit by the 
side of the minister, which sometimes regulated the length of 
the sermon. As the distance 'from home was great, the wor- 
shippers were in the habit of bringing their dinner or lunch- 
eon with them ; and after the morning service, the intermis- 
sion furnished an excellent opportunity to discuss the news 
of the week, the weather, the state of the crops, the girth 
of oxen, and possibly the morning sermon. Groups were 
formed ; some sat beneath the shadow of the meeting-house, 
some loved to linger among the old gray stones of the bury- 
ing-ground and contemplate the stone willows that were never 
in foliage; while others enjoyed the grateful shade of the 
" old oak." Returning from across the way to get his flip at 
the May tavern, the goodman drew from his breeches-pocket 
a short-stemmed pipe, and if the sun shone brightly would 
adjust his spectacles so as to bring the rays to a focus and 
furnish fire to all. Both men and women enjoyed the luxury 
of tobacco ; and the noon-day smoke prepared the mind and 
heart for the tranquil enjoyment of the afternoon discourse. 



While this meeting-house stood, it was the only place where 
the annual town meetings were held. This is also true of the 
meeting-house that preceded it. The notifications for the 
meeting were posted " on y' east porch ; " in later days, " on 
y' frunt." 

Many of the timbers of the old church building were used 
in the framing of the present house ; the vane and indicator 
are also on the present building ; the lock on the front door, 
and its immense key, served the old church; and the sills 
of the sheds back of the meeting-house are part of the old 

On the 24th of April, 1824, the Rev. Benjamin Huntoon 
preached the farewell sermon in the old meeting-house, from 
Haggai ii. 3. The church was filled with a very large audi- 
ence, many from the adjacent towns being present. Mr. 
Huntoon gave a brief historical review of the parish, from 
the ordination of Rev. Joseph Morse. In speaking of his 
own ministry, he says : — 

" Since my ordination the church has enjoyed an unusual degree of 
harmony and concord. We have not had a single church meeting 
on account of difficulties and animosities. For these blessings I 
would be devoutly thankful to God, the Author of all goodness ; and 
while I know not what remains concealed for me behind the veil of 
futurity, I would confide in the unchanging kindness and protection of 
the Almighty Father, who rules in the armies of heaven, and does 
His pleasure among the inhabitants of earth. 'Except the Lord 
build the house, they labor in vain that would build it.' The circum- 
stances under which we have this day assembled, and the view which 
we have taken of the past, forcibly remind us that the rapid wings of 
time are sweeping from the earth the perishable monuments of human 
art, and collecting the successive generations of men into the icy 
arms of the oblivious grave. It becomes us, my brethren, to pause 
for a moment and reflect on the changes and vicissitudes of this 
fugitive state. Who is left among you that saw this house in its first 
glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not, in your eyes, in 
comparison to it, as nothing? While the wasting hand of time has 
been despoiling this temple of its glory, the numerous crowd of 
delighted worshippers who were present at its dedication have, one 
after another, fallen victims to the unrelenting stroke of death ; none 


who assisted in laying its foundations remain to be witness of its 
faU. Do you ask where they are to be found? There, — in yonder 
silent house, where we shall all soon be assembled with them. And 
he that can look for the last time on these walls, these seats, this 
altar, hallowed by their devotions, and not feel his heart swell with 
tender and melancholy emotions, is formed of sterner stuff than ought 
to enter here. Who can forbear to drop the silent tear as he departs, 
never again to pass the threshold of the religious home of his fathers ? 
Where is the man whose sensibility is so blunted that he can feel 
none of the melting sympathies of humanity on bidding adieu to that 
sacred place which has been the witness of his purest joys and the 
sanctuary of his keenest sorrows ? These feelings are too strong to be 
resisted. They are awakened by a thousand mournful associations 
of kindred and parents and children who have long since slumbered 
in forgetfulness. But this season is too precious to be all occupied in 
unavailing regret. The hand, writing our fate, is visible on these 
ruined walls. Its characters are too legible to need an interpreter. 
The occasion calls us to serious thought, to manly resolution, to 
vigorous exertion. Our time is short, our duties great, our labors 
arduous. This world is not our home ; these houses of clay in 
which we now dwell are not our only residence ; the horizon that 
bounds our mortal vision marks not the limitations of our existence ; 
yet a few years, or days perhaps, and death will be open to our 
view. With what energy and perseverance should we labor to erect 
a temple of virtue on the Rock of Ages, against which the winds shall 
beat, and the storms of time shall rage in vain ! Farewell, thou 
sacred sanctuary of our fathers! The angel that is to make the 
record of our improvement here is about to take his departure to 
the courts above. And oh, when Time shall have finished his allotted 
pilgrimage on earth, and all his cycles have mingled with eternity, 
may we, with the blessed multitude of the redeemed, of every nation, 
and kindred, and tongue, and people, be admitted to that temple not 
made with hands, that house eternal and in the heavens ; which God 
grant, for Jesus Christ's sake ! " 

A few days after the delivery of the farewell sermon, the 
parish voted to authorize the building committee "to take 
down the old house, on the first Tuesday in May, provided 
the weather will admit ; and that they be directed to give a 
general invitation to the inhabitants of Canton, with a view 


to have the same done gratis." This general invitation was as 
generally accepted, and a large crowd of men and boys — 
some of the latter of whom are still living — at the appointed 
time took hold of the rope, and with a long pull and a strong 
pull and a pull all together brought the old meeting-house to 
the ground. While the present church was in process of 
building, the society held services in what was then known as 
Downes's Hall, and here they continued to meet until the new 
church was ready for occupancy. 



THE house which was consumed by fire at Canton on 
Sunday morning, Sept. 13, 1874, possessed a history 
totally different in its aspect and bearings from any other 
building in the town. Its history was almost complete a 
hundred years ago ; its work was nearly accomplished before 
the breaking out of the Revolutionary War ; and when that 
great political storm arose, the first mutterings of which were 
heard within the walls of Doty's tavern, growing in strength 
as it proceeded, it swept across the' country like a tornado 
and overthrew in its irresistible progress very manj' of the 
early Episcopal churches then existing in the country. The 
Canton Church was among the first to fall. The reasons for 
its dismemberment were twofold : first, its own inherent weak- 
ness ; secondly, the unwillingness of most of its members to 
approve the popular measures taken by the mass of the in- 
habitants to procure a separation from the mother country, — 
in other words, they were Tories. Of course this assertion 
does not apply to all. There were individual members of the 
Episcopal Church in New England who were bold and out- 
spoken in the cause of independence; but the communicants, 
as a body, deemed their allegiance to Great Britain paramount 
to any other political considerations. In this they were a 
peculiar people. No other sect gave the patriots of the 
Revolution so much trouble as the " church " people, and 
in no denomination were there so many Tories. 

Nevertheless old things have passed away; old prejudices 
have worn off; and it is pleasant to recall some facts con- 
nected with the past long after the heat of the controversy 
and the battle are over. The animosities of our great-grand- 


fathers and great-grandmothers are buried with the dust that 
covers them. The dutiful servants of the king were in many 
cases driven from their homes and firesides, and sought in 
some more congenial cHme a refuge where their opinions 
would be respected and their past sufferings looked upon with 
tenderness and sympathy. 

Near the village of Ponkapoag stands a deserted burying- 
ground. It is very small, — not more than four and one half 
rods on the road ; and it runs back to the brow of the hill. You 
open the iron gate, enter, and stand within the enclosure known 
as the English Churchyard. The path, if path there ever was, 
has long since been choked with weeds ; and the rank grass 
grows in profusion over the graves. The stones are half 
covered with ivy and creeping vines, and you discern through 
moss-covered letters the well-known names of those who were 
once connected with the busy life of the old town. 

One portion of this lot has been in use, or, as the old 
record has it, " improved for a burying ground," much longer 
than the rest For nearly fifty years before the part nearest 
the public way was deeded as a site for the church, the back 
part, or the portion nearest the brow of the hill, had been 
owned by certain proprietors having no connection with the 
Church of England. Persons were interred here as early as 
1705, and it is the oldest place of burial in Canton. When 
the church people came into possession of the adjoining lot, 
the two graveyards were merged, and hence here sleep side 
by side patriots and Tories ; there is no division now. The 
stanch patriot, Capt. William Bent, long proprietor of the 
Eagle Inn, reposes in the same yard with Edward Taylor, 
the notorious and loud-mouthed Tory of Ponkapoag. The 
good old deacon of Dunbar's church lies near the warden of 
the English Church. Here in the northeast corner is a rough 
stone with no inscription, and not far away is a monument of 
modern workmanship with this inscription : — 

" Near this spot lie the remains of Samuel Spare and wife who 
came from Devonshire, England, in 1 735, and was the first settler of 
this name known in New-England. He was active in the church for- 
merly near this lot. He died July 5, 1768, aged 85 years." 


Directly north of this monument there is a sHght depres- 
sion; apparently no graves have been made here. Tradition 
points to this as the exact spot where stood " y" Englishe 

The first attempt to gather an Episcopal church in Canton 
was undertaken by the Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel in Foreign Parts. The work was of a missionary 
nature. The Rev. Timothy Cutler, the first rector of Christ 
Church, Boston, was an authorized missionary of the society, 
and he was indefatigable in his exertions to build up churches 
throughout Massachusetts. Among others, the sister church, 
St. Paul's, then known as Christ's Church, Dedham, was 
founded by him in 1758. Mr. Cutler preached in Canton ; 
and the tradition, erroneous though it is, that the fee-simple 
of the land on which the church stood was formerly in pos- 
session of Christ Church, Boston, would go far to establish 
the fact of Mr. Cutler's early connection with the enterprise. 

On April 22, 1754, a good pious soul, Jonathan Kenney 
by name, of Stoughton, " in consideration of promoting the 
honor of Almighty God, and in the interest of the Church -of 
England as by law established, and for the better accommo- 
dation of the professors of that holy religion," deeded to the 
" Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 
incorporated by a royal charter, and to their successors for- 
ever," the plat of ground upon which the church formerly 
stood, to be used " for a situation for a church for the 
worship of God according to the laws and usages of the 
Church of England by law established, and for a cemetery or 
burying place for the dead." This deed was signed and 
sealed in the presence of Ebenezer Miller, among others, 
which leads us to believe that whatever advice or encourage- 
ment Dr. Cutler might have given, far greater credit belongs 
to the Rev. Ebenezer Miller, D. D., of Braintree, who, if not 
the framer and designer of the work, supplemented and en- 
couraged it, and during his life was its warm and zealous 
friend, aiding it by his wise counsels and defending it with his 
vigorous and powerful logic from the assaults of its enemies 
and the machinations of its foes. 


The building of the church was begun soon after the pass- 
ing of the deed of the land, and was completed about 1758. 
Previous to its erection, the church people, who desired to 
worship God in their own way, were obliged to go over rough 
roads either to Boston or Braintree, thereby making them- 
selves liable to arrest by the tithing-man for going to a meet- 
ing " not allowed by law." 

Dr. Ebenezer Miller was the second son of Samuel Miller, 
of Milton. He was born on Milton Hill in 1703, was fitted 
for college by the Rev. Peter Thacher, — the good old par- 
son of his native town, — and graduated at Harvard College 
in 1722. He began the study of divinity immediately after 
leaving college, and was anxious to become a minister of the 
Church of England. The vicinity of Braintree, now Quincy, 
to his home gave him the advantages of an acquaintance 
with the churchmen of that place; and when he saw that 
here, in the very spot where the first missionary labor in 
Massachusetts Bay had been begun by the Venerable So- 
ciety, nearly a quarter of a century before, the work was 
failing, he was easily induced by his brethren to proceed to 
England and to procure ordination, there being at that time 
no bishop in America. He accordingly went to England, 
and in due time was ordained as deacon and priest by Ed- 
mund, Lord Bishop of London. The same year, 1727, he 
received the degree of Master of Arts, and in 1747 that of 
Doctor in Theology, from the Oxford University. While in 
London he was chaplain to the Duke of Bolton. Several 
members of the church in Braintree wrote to General Nichol- 
son during the latter part of the year 1726, and represented that 
they had met with many hardships from their independent 
neighbors and from the government. They desired that the 
Rev. Mr. Miller might be sent over as soon as possible, and, 
until he came, they saw no prospect of relief from their suf- 
ferings. They said, " He is well beloved in these parts, and 
we believe that if he will come back to us we shall have a 
numerous congregation." Mr. Miller accordingly went to 
Braintree and settled there, and continued preaching to the 
people until his death, which occurred in February, 1763. 


He was well educated and well versed in the history and doc- 
trines of his church, and not afraid to meet, in public polemic 
discussion, Parson Dunbar of the First Church, who accused 
him of having been sent by his superiors to " foment disturb- 
ances" and "cause divisions" among the churches of New 
England, and " by promoting Episcopacy to increase the 
political influence of the Crown." We have every reason to 
believe that Mr. Miller was well qualified to build up a poor 
and tottering church in the wilds of America. His death was 
a great loss to the little congregation at Canton. Being 
geographically nearer them than any other ordained clergy- 
man, he divided his parochial labors between them and the 
worshippers at Dedham; and when he died, Feb. 11, 1763, 
St. Paul's also suffered. " He feared God and honored the 

After the death of the Rev. Mr. Miller, the Rev. Henry 
Caner, D. D., rector of King's Chapel, Boston, became inter- 
ested in the Canton Church. At this time the church was 
very small, consisting of only eighteen families; but Mr. 
Caner was so pleased with the appearance of the congrega- 
tion and their worth and honesty, that he did all in his power 
to assist them, and highly recommended them to the Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, as deserv- 
ing of its aid and compassion. 

In 1764 Edward Wentworth and Samuel Spare were 
elected wardens ; the latter, as appears from the inscription 
upon the monument, was the first of the name in New Eng- 
land, but subsequent investigations have shown that he was 
here as early as 1728. He removed to Canton from Boston 
in 1738, and erected, in 1758, a house on Green Lodge Street, 
and removed to Cherry Hill, owning the place where the old 
milestone reads, "Thirteen miles to Boston, 1786. John 
Spare." He was born in 1683, and died July 5, 1768. " He 
assisted," says Mr. Winslow, in a funeral sermon preached at 
the English Church, " in laying the foundation of this build- 
ing." In his will he gave the interest of ;£'i3 6s. Sd. for the 
use of the Enghsh Church in this town forever. His son John 
was one of the wardens of the church in 1767, and a constant 


attendant upon its services until its dissolution, when he be- 
came a worshipper at St. Paul's, Dedham. 

In 1765 the number of the families in Canton in the 
church "profession," amounted to about twenty, the com- 
municants eighteen. In Dedham and its neighborhood 
there were not more than ten families that belonged to the 
church, and only eleven communicants. Statistically, then, 
it would appear that the Canton mission was in advance of 
that in Dedham. 

The Rev. Edward Winslow succeeded the Rev. Mr. Miller 
at Braintree in 1764, and the mantle of the latter fell upon him. 
He was dissatisfied at the small congregations which greeted 
him at Dedham and Canton on Sundays, and devised a plan 
by which he could secure a good audience. He preached 
alternately at both places. The distance was not great, and 
the attendance, especially in Dedham, was mortifyingly small. 
He therefore advised the members of the two churches to 
unite and attend together as one congregation. This propo- 
sition was readily consented to, and immediately put in prac- 
tice, and by this device a good congregation was obtained 
in both churches. Services were held in each place once 
a month, as long as good weather permitted ; but during 
the winter months the travelling was so bad that service was 
entirely discontinued. The salary the worthy man received 
was barely enough to pay his expenses ; but he had every 
reason to believe that the numbers of the congregation would 
increase, and hoped that their abilities and dispositions to 
continue a regular service would enlarge correspondingly. 

When the Revolution broke out, Mr. Winslow, not being 
able with safety to pray for the king, and unable conscien- 
tiously to forbear to pray for him, resigned his charge at 
Braintree, and removed to New York; on his return from a 
funeral, while ascending the steps of his house, he fell down 
and died. His remains were buried beneath the altar of 
St. George's Church. 

In 1767, through the influence of Mr. Winslow, a lay reader 
was procured for the two towns. This was the Rev. William 
Clark. He was born in Danvers, August 2, 1740, O. S., and 


received his degree at Harvard in 1759. His father, the Rev. 
Peter Clark, was a Congregationalist clergyman ; and young 
Clark studied for the ministry in the same denomination. 
On July 19, 1767, having conformed to the Church of Eng- 
land, and become a candidate for Holy Orders, he performed 
divine service in Canton for the first time, but his residence 
vk'as still in Dedham. Mr. Winslow occasionally preached. 
Mr. Clark officiated alternately in Dedham and Canton until 
Oct. 23, 1768, when he sailed for England. In London, 
December 17, he subscribed to the Articles, the following 
day was ordained to the office of deacon by the Bishop of 
London, and on the 21st of the same month he was ordained 
priest. He was appointed by the Venerable Society to go 
to Dedham; thence he came to Canton to reside, Nov. 29, 
1 770. This young gentleman entered upon his labors under 
great difficulties. In the first place, he was only twenty- 
seven years of age ; he had recently offered himself as a can- 
didate for Holy Orders; and here his first labor in the 
Episcopal Church was to begin. To this youth and want of 
experience was added a physical infirmity. He was very 
deaf, so deaf that it was believed to be impossible to cure 

He came up to his work manfully. " He bore," says one 
who knew him, " an amiable character, both in respect to his 
piety and abilities ; " and he had need of both, for his prede- 
cessor had left him as a legacy an old quarrel with Parson 
Dunbar, who had exhibited an unfriendly temper toward the 
English Church, for which Mr. Winslow says he had long 
been remarkable. Mr. Dunbar had taken exceptions to the 
number Mr. Winslow had reported as belonging to his church ; 
and the latter was obliged to make out a certificate, and with 
his wardens attest the exact number of those professing his 
faith.^ We may believe Mr. Winslow when he says that " it 
had been his endeavor to lead his members to cultivate a 
friendly, as well as cautious temper toward their Dissenting 
neighbors, but he had not succeeded ; " and the burden de- 

1 See Appendix XIV. 


scended on Mr. Clark. His people were obliged to pay rates 
to support preaching at the Congregational church in the 
same proportion as if they had attended that worship. From 
one reason and another, his congregation began to drop 
away. On June 24, 1771, he moved his household goods 
back to the parsonage in Dedham, but continued to preach 
here until the 13th of December, 1772. On that day he 
preached what he supposed at the time to be his farewell 
sermon ; but the Venerable Society in London disapproved 
of his suspending his usual attendance upon the church in 
Canton, and he continued to preach here one Sunday in a 
month, and as late as 1775, administered the sacrament after 
three years' intermission. In 1773 the Canton Church was 
disconnected from the church in Dedham, and three years 
after, on the nth of June, 1776, it being the festival of Saint 
Barnabas, the members of the Stoughton Church met for 
the last time, and having been reminded of their duties by 
their pastor, elected Mr. John Spare and Mr. Henry Crane 
to serve them as wardens until the following Easter. 

The following extracts from a letter written by Mr. Clark 
in April, 1 774, to the society in London, will throw additional 
light upon the closing years of his work in Canton : — 

" And now I am able to acquaint the society that I have used my 
utmost endeavor to bring the Stoughton people to their usual attend- 
ance on my ministry in the church there, according to command 
laid on me to attend my duty there. I have visited several, and wrote 
to them all in the most condescending and constraining terms, offer- 
ing my services there as usual, if they would but attend their duty and 
drop all matters of contention, though I have not received a farthing 
of their ministerial taxes for more than two years past. I think I 
might in justice have insisted on their making payment ; but as I have 
never made any difference about that in all my converse with that 
people, I have not thought it proper to begin now. 

" My offers above mentioned have been treated with neglect and 
contempt Those few whom I have represented as better disposed 
to peace and good order, yet refuse to attend in that church, as they 
say it gives greater occasion of obloquy to those vvitliout, because the 
schismatical and refractory behaviour of their brethren in withdrawing 


becomes more open and notorious. But they promise they will attend 
on my ministry at Dedham, as often as they possibly can ; nor, upon 
the whole, is it practicable, in the present situation of things, for me to 
resume my duty at Stoughton, as the church doors are shut against 
me, and the keys in the hands of the disaffected members ? who meet 
together at a private house, and have set up a Reader of their own, 
being equally disaffected to the Rev. Mr. Winslow, whose church 
is next nearest, as to mine. 

" In a few words, then, this difference began in a dispute between 
two of my Parishioners, there being the misapplication of a trifling 
sum of money, committed from one to the other for a public use. As 
I certainly knew which was in the wrong, I spoke of it with the most 
honest and upright design, in hopes my word would have put an end 
to the dispute (as it certainly ought to have done) ; instead of that, I 
undesignedly and quite unexpectedly offended the person against 
whom my evidence went, who from that time forward has treated me 
with great abuse and malignity, and the first time I had opportunity 
to discourse with him I endeavoured with meekness to convince him 
that he had been mistaken, as he is generally known to be a very for- 
getful man, but he flatly gave me the Lie, and treated me with reviling 
language, which I pass over. 

" This man soon got a number to join him ; and the enemies of our 
church around us, who are very numerous, were busy to foment the 
difference, and so the contest began, and proceeded from one thing 
to another which would be very mortifying to mention. . . . 

" I wish never to have anything more to say upon so disagreeable a 
subject. . . . 

"In the year 1767, I was called to officiate among them as a 
Reader and a catididate for Holy orders, where I continued till the 
middle of October, 1768, when I sailed for England, in which time I 
saw the great need they had of a resident minister ; their unanimous 
importunity prevailed with me to pass by better offers. I collected 
money for my expenses to England from my own little patrimonial 
estate, with which I paid the whole expense of my voyage and resi- 
dence in London, without a farthing's assistance except the Royal 
Bounty and one moidure from a person unknown. In London, being 
the winter season, I was obliged to stay just five months, when, soon 
after my ordination, I was seized with the small-pox and brought to 
death's door, which was very distressing as well as very expensive to 
me. I recovered and returned home in June, 1769, the whole ex- 


pense of my voyage being about _;£8o of my own personal property ; 
and though my people received me kindly, I soon found I had all 
the malevolence of fanatical bigotry to encounter (and indeed a young 
man must have much courage who enters on a new mission in this 
country), but I carefully avoided the shafts of mine enemies. But 
they soon found means to warp the affections of some of my people, 
and laid the foundation of some private grievances, in which few know 
how great and unjust a sufferer I have been. In short, I met with 
some striking instances of ingratitude and unkindness from those 
whom I had most obliged. I have continued here now almost five 
years. My income is small, — scarcely able to procure for me the 
necessaries of life." 

From this it appears that the closing years of Mr. Clark's 
ministry were fraught with anxiety and trouble. He en- 
deavored conscientiously to discharge his duty through 
many hardships and trials. Twice he came over from Ded- 
ham and found no one to join with him in the service. 
Many a bitter cold morning he waited for over an hour alone 
in the church, before any one came who would unite with 
him in the exercises; sometimes he read the service with 
one, sometimes two, three, or four persons, seldom more 
than five or six; and yet he lived farther from the church 
than any of his parishioners. Still he worked on, and en- 
deavored by frequent visits, meetings, conferences, and dis- 
courses to heal the difficulties that had arisen, but in vain. 
Added to the troubles within his own parish, came the politi- 
cal agitation ; and many, though thoroughly respecting Mr. 
Clark personally, were displeased with the Toryism of the 
Church of England, of which he was the very embodiment 
and representative. He was at heart a stanch Royalist. 
He prayed " that God may open the eyes of an infatuated 
and deluded people before it be too late, that they may see 
how nearly their happiness is connected with a subjection to 
the King and Parliament of Great Britain." 

In 1777, while Mr. Clark was residing in Dedham, his 
affairs seemed to have reached a crisis. His church had 
been used as a storehouse, and his little flock scattered far 


and wide. His name appeared on the town records as one 
unfriendly to the common cause. Two Loyalist refugees 
about this time came to him in sore distress, and begged that 
he would inform them where they could find a safe retreat. 
In reply to their importunities, he gave them a letter of 
recommendation, addressed to certain parties out of the 
country. For this he was carried by force to Boston, and 
arraigned before the Revolutionary tribunal then sitting there. 
He was denied the right of counsel. The tribunal was about 
to acquit him, but before doing so, desired him to acknowl- 
edge the independence of America, which he absolutely 
refused to do ; for, he says, it is " contrary to my King, my 
Country, and my God." For this he was condemned and 
sentenced to be confined on board the guardship. His 
health was very much impaired by this imprisonment. His 
voice was so affected that he could hardly be understood. 
His hearing had not improved from his youth forward ; and 
this speechless, deaf, and decrepit man, released and banished, 
sought in Ireland and England a refuge and a home, — a pitia- 
ble object of charity to all refugees whom he met. He 
returned to Nova Scotia in 1786, and in March, 1795, to his 
native State. He died in Quincy in 1815, and is buried 
in the churchyard there, where a monument with a Latin 
inscription marks his final resting-place.^ 

Mr. Clark was the last clergyman that officiated at Trinity 
Church in the town of Canton. For some years after his 
expatriation the parish organization connected with the 
church may have smouldered. Mr. Joseph Aspinwall, one 
of the founders and a steadfast friend of the church, was 
present at a convention of Episcopalians held in Boston 
in September, 1785, and the record shows that he was 
" deputy from Stoughton." Whether he represented a con- 
stituency or went of his own will, is a matter which probably 
will always remain in doubt. This old gentleman had been 
at the formation of the Dedham Church in 1733, and his 
posterity through the generations have been true to the 
faith of their fathers. He lived on a road that formerly led 
' See Appendix XV. 


from the old ford to Ponkapoag. West of Adam Mackin- 
tosh's, the cellar of his house was seen by the Canton His- 
torical Society on their Fast Day walk of 1876. He died 
Nov. 24, 1787, in the eighty-ninth year of his age. There are 
none in Canton to-day, descended from the original church 
people, who hold the faith of their ancestors. 

One could hardly realize that in the little church that for- 
merly stood near this spot the following prayer was read : 

" Lord bless our Most Gracious Sovereign, King George, and all 
the Royal Family, the Princes, Lords, and Nobility of the Realm ! 
Endow them with Thy Holy Spirit ; enrich them with Thy Heavenly 
grace ! Bless all the Bishops, Pastors, and Teachers of Thy flock, and 
to all Thy people give thine Heavenly Grace, especially to this con- 
gregation here present ! " 

After the close of the Revolution the church building 
remained unused for many years. It was fast going to 
decay ; the simple style of its architecture rendered it easily 
convertible into a house, and, the frame and timbers being 
sound, it was purchased by Mr. Adam Blackman in 1796, 
carried across the road into the valley, and set down by 
Aunt Katy's Brook, where it remained until it was con- 
sumed by fire. Verily, as the Welsh say, " It is easier to 
burn a house than to build one." 

And so the curtain drops : the old regime has passed away ; 
the end of the colonial period is reached. The names of 
Aspinwall, Kingsbury, Taylor, Kenney, Spare, Curtis, Lis- 
com, and Crehore are unknown among us to-day, save on 
the tablets of mouldering gravestones. More than a century 
has passed. The picturesque cocked hat has been super- 
seded by the stove-pipe monstrosity; the graceful knee- 
breeches have given place to pantaloons ; silver shoe-buckles 
are now only found in the collection of the antiquary ; the 
coins they dropped into the contribution-box, stamped with 
the fat fact of the Brunswicker, serve only to complete the 
collection of the numismatist; the red cross of Saint George 
has given place to the stars and stripes ; and finally in our 
own day the English Church, changed and transformed, has 


gone with the rest. We see the child at the font, the bride 
at the altar; we see the little band of worshippers, and strive 
to recall their faded images. From the mist of the past, their 
responses sound thin and distant as they reach us through the 
intervening years ; and the prayer for his " Gracious Majesty 
George III." comes down to us in such faint whispers that 
we almost doubt whether it was ever a reality. 

On the 29th of May, 1848, the service of the Episcopal 
Church was read over the body of the last of the members of 
the old church, — Mrs. Joshua Kingsbury, who died at the age 
of ninety, surviving her husband nearly twenty years. She 
resided in a small house on the Packeen road ; and the writer 
well remembers a visit paid to her a few months before her 

On the nth of June, 1876, just one hundred years from 
the last meeting of the members of the English Church, the 
descendants gathered together, and listened to a rehearsal of 
this story. A portrait of the Rev. William Clark, brought by 
his son, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, adorned the 
front of the pulpit; after Mr. Huntoon's historical address, 
remarks were made by the Rev. W. H. Savary, Dr. John 
Spare, and Hon. Charles H. French. 





IN 1744 war was declared by Great Britain against France, 
and the following year Governor Shirley formed the 
project of taking Louisburg. In this expedition Reuben 
Tupper enlisted. He appears to have been a valiant soldier; 
for in 1752 it was asserted that he had done considerable in 
the late war, and in 1754 he had his taxes remitted for his 
services. He was a son of Thomas and Remember Tupper, 
and brother to Benjamin. He died at Sharon in 1776. 

William Coney also appears on the roll of Louisburg 
soldiers. James Wentworth, the son of Shubael; James 
Bailey, the son of Richard, of Packeen ; Uriel Lyon, the son 
of Elhanan, then seventeen years of age; John Hixson, Ben- 
jamin Warren, Elijah Pitcher, and Joseph Jordan, — were all 
absent in 1746 on his Majesty's service; and Thomas Rog- 
ers, the son of Thomas and Joanna, never returned, but died 
in the war. During the year 1755 a war broke out between 
France and England ; and in many old towns documentary 
reference is made to the Neutral French. They inhabited 
the province of Nova Scotia, then called Acadia. Emi- 
grants from France had early formed settlements along the 
Bay of Fundy, and had enjoyed in contentment, until the 
Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the delights of rural and agri- 
cultural life. They were attached to the religion and gov- 
ernment of their native land and refused to take the oath 
of allegiance to the British Crown, and on account of this 
neutrality were known as the Neutral French. 

Raynal has thus pleaded their cause before history : — 

"A simple and a kindly people, who had no liking for blood. 
Agriculture was their occupation ; they had been settled in the low 


grounds, forcing back by dint of dykes the sea and rivers wherewith 
those plains were covered. The drained marshes produced wheat, 
rye, oats, barley, and maize. Immense prairies were alive with nu- 
merous flocks ; as many as sixty thousand horned cattle were counted 
there. The habitations, nearly all built of wood, were very commo- 
dious, and furnished with the neatness sometimes found amongst our 
European farmers in the easiest circumstances. Their manners were 
extremely simple ; the little differences which might from time to 
time arise between the colonists were always amicably settled by the 
elders. It was a band of brothers, all equally ready to give or re- 
ceive that which they considered common to all men." 

War and its horrors broke in upon this peaceful scene. 
On the 5th of September, 1755, four hundred and eighteen 
heads of families were summoned to meet in the church of 
Grand-Pr^. The same order had been given throughout all 
the towns of Acadia. The anxious farmers had all obeyed. 
Colonel Winslow, commanding the Massachusetts Militia,^ 
repaired thither with great array. "It is a painful duty 
which brings me here," he said. "I have orders to inform 
you that your lands, your crops, and your houses are all con- 
fiscated to the profit of the Crown; you can carry off your 
money and your linen on your deportation from the prov- 
ince. " The order was accompanied by no explanation ; nor 
did it admit of any. All the heads of families were at once 
surrounded by the soldiers. By tens, and under safe escort, 
they were permitted to visit once more the fields which they 
had cultivated, the houses in which they had seen their chil- 
dren grow up. 

" Soon o'er the yellow fields, in silent and mournful procession, 
Came from the neighboring hamlets and farms the Acadian women, 
Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the sea-shore. 
Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings. 
Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland. 
Close to their sides their children ran, and urged on the oxen, 
While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings." 

On the loth they embarked, passing, on their way to the 
ships, between two rows of women and children in tears. 
1 See Appendix XVI. 


"... On a sudden the church-doors 
Opened, and forth came the guard, and marching in gloomy procession 
Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient, Acadian farmers. 
Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from their homes and their country, 
Sing as they go, and in singing forget they are weary and wayworn, 
So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended 
Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters. 
Foremost the young men came ; and, raising together their voices, 
Sang with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions : 
' Sacred heart of the Saviour ! O inexhaustible fountain ! 
Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience ! ' 
Then the old men, as they marched, and the women that stood by the 

Joined in the sacred psalm, and the birds in the sunshine above them 
Mingled their notes therewith, like voices of spirits departed." 

As we read the tender words of the poet, our minds 
wander back to that primitive people, and their story falls 
with a new and fresh pathos into our hearts. The words 
are indeed fulfilled, , " One generation passeth away, and 
another cometh. " Their cries of anguish reach not our ears, 
but the memory of their sufferings appeals to the soul with 
an eloquence transcending that of words. We seem to be 
standing with these simple Acadians on the shore. 

" We see the sun o'erflow 
With gold the Basin of Minas, and set over Gaspereau.'' 

We seem to see Charles Leblanc among that unhappy 
throng, pleading that his wife and family may not be sepa- 
rated from him, and rejoice with him as he obtains the con- 
sent of the commander that on account of his weak and 
sickly condition, his family may embark in the same vessel 
with him. We seem to see him, as on the deck of the out- 
ward-bound ship he watches the slowly retreating coast-line 
of his home, and thinks of the dear friends that are now, 
like him, torn from all they hold dear, and soon to be seek- 
ing from town to town, among the Anglo-Americans, the 
charity New England has always been ready to give. In the 
cool of a November evening the vessel entered the harbor 
of Boston, and moved slowly to her anchorage. 

Of the one thousand that landed at Boston about this 
time, seven persons had been assigned by the Great and 


General Court to the town of Stoughton, — Honore Burbin; 
Ann, his wife, and Peter, his son ; Charles Leblanc, whom 
I judge to have belonged to the village of Laudry, having 
been while there the owner of four oxen, six cows, six young 
cattle, thirty-five sheep, twelve hogs, and one horse; his 
brother James, their wives and children. They arrived, 
under charge of Jeremiah Ingraham, within the borders of 
the town, and stopped at the house of Mr. William Royall, 
under Blue Hill, where they were taken in and tenderly 
cared for. Were they sick, Dr. Nathan Bucknam was im- 
mediately sent for; and he made them many "vizets," and 
" medacines " he gave them in good quantity. Were their 
wives in anticipation of adding one Franco-American to the 
population of the town, Mr. Richard Hixson was ready, in 
the town's behalf, to fetch a midwife from Roxbury. Houses 
■were provided for their occupation rent free, and an abun- 
dance of mutton, chickens, pigeons, pork, potatoes, corn, and 
milk was given them for their sustenance, as the following 
ancient account, kept by the selectmen in pursuance to an 
order of council, shows. We quote from the original faded 

yellow documents. 

Province of the 1 
Massachusetts Bay. ) 

In Council, January 21, 1757. 
/^RDERED, That the Seleftmen or Overfeers of the Poor of the 
^-^ feveral Towns wherein any of the French Inhabitants of Nova 
Scotia are placed, be dire6ted, whenever they (hall offer an Account 
of their difburfements for the Support of them, to annex thereto a lift 
of the feveral French Perfons in fucli Town, with an Account of their 
Age and Sex, and the Circumftances of their Health and Capacity for 
Labour ; and that a Copy of this Vote be printed and fent to the 
feveral Towns and Diflridts where any of the faid Inhabitants are 


Sent down for Concurrence, 

A. Oliver, Seer. 
In the Houfe of Reprefentatives, January 21, 1757. 
Read and Concur'd, 

T. Hubbard, Speaker. 
Confented to, S. Phips. 

Copy Examined, Per Thos. Clarke, Dep. Sec. 


In January, 1758, seven of the French were brought from 
Needham to this town, three of whom were transferred to 
Wrentham. From Feb. 13, 1758, to Jan. 2, 1760, the ex- 
pense of supporting the French was ;£i8 i6s. 2d. The 
following is a copy of the original bill of the charges to the 
following August : — 

An account of y'= Charge that y= Town of Stoughton has been at 
in Providing for the French Neuteralls afligened to faid Town by the 
Great & General Court from -f 2d Day of Jan'ry, 1760, to y° 28"' of 
Auguft Laft, (Viz.) Charles and Jeams Blanc, alious Liblon, with their 
wives & Children. 

£ s. D. F. 

To Mr. William Smith's ac't., paid by him & Delivered by 

order of y" Seleflmen for y' year paft for y= Soport of y 

Neuteralls from y« 2d of Jan'ry, 1750, to y= 27"' of Febr 

laft. For four Pounds of Beef & 3 piftereens .... o — 4 — 6 — 3 

For Cafli to provide for their Wives lying in & for eight 

weeks . . 3 — 4 — o — o 

For half a buftiel of Corn & Seven pound of Beef .... o — 3 — 2 — 3 

To Daniel Richards, his ac't., paid out of y' Town Treafre in 

Cafli to Charles, he being a weekly man, not able to work ; 

from the above y" 27"' of Febr to y= 28"^ of Auguft, 26 

weeks, four fliillings per week, to provide provifion for 

hirafelf 5 — 4 — o — o 

For Cafli to pay for twelve pounds of ftieep's wool . . . o — 16 — o — o 

To Cafli to James when he was Lame to provide for himfelf o — 10 — 8 — 2 

To D06I. Bucknam, his ac't. for y= Neuteralls in Sicknefs . i — 18 — o — o 

To fifteen Cord of firewood for y= Neuteralls 2 — 10 — o — o 

To Houfe Rent about eight months o — 17 — 9-3 

Total I5_ 8—3—3 

Stoughton, Septra y<= 8*, 1760. 

Daniel Richards, 
Nath'l May, 
Job Swift, 
Joseph Billing, 


On the 22d of August, 1760, the selectmen received a 
letter from Samuel Watts, one of the committee appointed 
by the General Court to dispose of the French Neutrals in 
the county of Suffolk, directing that four of those allotted 


to Stoughton — namely, James Leblanc, his wife, and two 
children — were to be removed to the town of Dorchester, 
and there to be taken care of and supported, agreeable to 
the order of the Great and General Court; and the select- 
men were further ordered to transmit to Watts the names 
of all the French Neutrals who should remove from the 
town, the time of removal, etc. The order was executed on 
the 28th, Mr. Joseph Billings and Nathaniel May carrying 
Leblanc, his wife, and two children to Dorchester. 

So these Acadians sought among strangers a home. 
Some, indeed, returned to France, the land of their ances- 
tors, and settled in the vicinity of Bordeaux, where their 
descendants still form a prosperous community. Others 
went to the far south, and on the banks of the Mississippi 
founded settlements which, in honor of their lost home, 
they designated Acadia. The King of France, Louis XV., 
in spite of the declaration of war, begged that he might be 
allowed to send ships along the American coast to pick up 
these expatriated people. But the inexorable Grenville re- 
plied that France could not send ships among our colonies. 
"I know not," says Bancroft, "if the annals of the human 
race keep the record of sorrows so wantonly inflicted, so 
bitter and so perennial as fell upon the French inhabitants 
of Acadia."^ So were these inoffensive people, whose only 
care had been their flocks, scattered from their homes and 
from one another. In their land — 

" Dwells another race, with other customs and language. 
Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic 
Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers from exile 
Wandered back to their native land, to die in its bosom." 

During the time of war, whenever our arms were victo- 
rious, festivals and thanksgiving of praise were offered to 
God; and on the other hand, when a squadron of French 
were in our northern waters, or disaster seemed about to 
overtake us from Indians, from earthquakes, drought, and 
insects, days of solemn fasting, humiliation, and prayer 

^ It will be remembered that Farkman gives this affair quite a difierent 
aspect. — Eds. 


were held, in which the divine guidance was sought and 
the covenant with God and with one another renewed. 

On June 17, 1745, Mr. Dunbar makes the following 
record : — 

" This day our forces against the French at Cape Breton (for the 
success of which expedition there were two days of public fasting and 
prayer) had the city and fortress all surrendered to them, and they 
have taken possession of them. Blessed be God, who heareth prayer ! " 

On the following day, public thanksgiving was held on 
account of the successes at Cape Breton and Louisburg. 
Mr. Dunbar preached from Judges v. 12. 

On Nov. 27, 1745, a public thanksgiving was held in the 
church, and "particular notice taken in the proclamation of 
God's great goodness in his wonderful defeat of the French 
fleet in these Northern seas, by a dreadful mortal sickness 
and by repeated storms." Mr. Dunbar preached on this 
occasion from Ex. xv. 4. 

On August 28, 1755, "A general fast was held on account 
of the defeat of General Braddock's army at the Ohio;" 
and again, on June 30, 1757, there was a public fast on 
account of war and drought, and Mr. Dunbar makes an 
especial record of the answer which was received from a 
prayer-hearing God. He says : — 

"A private fast was held on June 22, 1757, on account of God's 
Judgment upon the land, especially war and drought. The very next 
day God sent us in the morning and towards evening showers of rain. 
On June 30 the same thing was tried again ; a public fast was held on 
account of war and drought, and on the Tuesday following God gave 
a plentiful rain, and the next day plentiful showers of rain, by which 
he abundantly watered the earth." 

" Thanks, " says the old pastor, " to a prayer-hearing God. " 
Another instance occurred in 1762, July 28, when a general 
fast was held "on account of a very severe and distressing 
drought ; and two days after, God gave us a moderate and 
plentiful rain, — a gracious answer to our prayers." A pub- 
lic thanksgiving was held in the church, Oct. 25, 1759, "for 
the success God has given our armies, especially for the 


reduction of Quebec, the capital of Canada," and again, 
Oct. 9, 1760, "for the reduction of Montreal and all Canada 
to the British arms." 

In 1754 JohnTrask, George Forrest, and Benjamin Rogers 
appear in the roll of Capt. Nathan Perry's company, who 
marched to the eastward. This year Benjamin Esty, in 
consequence of services in the late war, had his taxes re- 
mitted by the town. He was at the eastward from April 10, 
1750, to the end of the year. Benjamin Blackman was in 
Capt. William Pierce's company. He returned to Stough- 
ton on the 28th of September, and came very near dying 
from fever contracted in the service. He was the son of 
Deacon Benjamin Blackman, and was born May 4, 171 2; 
he died in 1761. 

Although the expedition to Acadia had proved successful, 
the troops engaged in 1755 in the expedition to Crown Point 
had a very trying time. 

The Rev. Samuel Dunbar, on the 26th of September, 
1755, having obtained the consent of his parish, set out on 
his journey to Lake George, as chaplain in the regiment of 
Colonel Brown. He remained in this position until Decem- 
ber of the following year, when he returned to his people in 
good health. 

Col. Samuel Miller, whose military district embraced the 
town of Stoughton, says that in 1755 (and two years later 
we have a list of his alarm-men, both young and those over 
sixty^) the town had three hundred and twenty enlisted sol- 
diers ; that the stock of ammunition consisted only of four 
half-barrels of powder, and lead and flints accordingly, 
which was but half of what the town should possess. The 
selectmen accordingly ordered a tax of ;^40 to be assessed 
to make good the deficiency. | 

An article appeared in the warrant for the town meetiilg 
to be held December 6, " To see,, if the town desire Mr. 
Treasurer Hixson to prosecute the respective captains in 
this town who refuse to give him a reasonable and satis- 

1 See Appendix XVII. 


factory account of the fine received of persons impressed for 
the late intended expedition against Crown Point. " Passed 
in the affirmative. 

The story of some of the Stoughton men who enlisted in 
his Majesty's service in the expedition to Crown Point is 
substantially the same.^ Elijah Esty (son of Jacob), Na- 
thaniel Clark, Thomas Billings, John Wadsworth, William 
Patten, of Stephen Miller's company, James Bailey, Michael 
Woodcock, and James, son of Joseph Everett, were all taken 
sick in camp at Lake George. Some of them remained for 
weeks in the hospital at Albany, but for each of them a 
horse was purchased by their friends, and some one from 
Stoughton went out and brought them home. Joseph 
Tucker, a minor, was brought home by his brother Uriah. 

John Redman took a wagon to go from Lake George to 
Albany; and for some reason the driver put him out of the 
vehicle in the wilderness, where, he affirms, he must have 
perished had not Sergt. Ralph Houghton, of Milton, hap- 
pened to pass that way, who took pity on him, hired another 
wagon to carry him to Albany, and also lent him money to 
buy such things as were necessary. 

Daniel Talbot and his son Amaziah both engaged in the 
Crown Point expedition. The son was taken sick at Half 
Moon, and the father hired a horse to bring them home ; but 
at the house of one Isaac Davis, in "No. i," he died, and 
the father returned home alone. Amaziah was born Sept. 7, 
1737, and was only seventeen at the time of his death. He 
was a grandson of Deacon Isaac Stearns. 

Edward Curtis was a captain in Colonel Thacher's regi- 
ment, and was engaged in raising troops which he marched 
to Albany. 

Josiah Perry re-enlisted in Major Miller's company. Col. 
Jonathan Bailey's regiment, December, 1756. He was dis- 
charged at Albany by reason of lameness, and was obliged to 
hire a horse to bring him to Stoughton. 

Steward Esty, son of Edward and Elizabeth Esty, born 

1 See Appendix XXV. 


June 18, 1730, went in the expedition to Crown Point in 
Colonel Brown's regiment, in the company of Capt. Edward 
Harrington. On his return home, he was taken sick at 
Springfield; and his father went after him, hired a horse, 
and brought him home. Mahew and Simeon Tupper were 
soldiers in Stephen Miller's company in the expedition to 
Crown Point. 

Jonathan Kenney, Jr., of Stoughton, who died, 1756, in 
the hospital at Albany, in the service of his country, was 
the son of Jonathan and Grace (Liscom) Kenney, and was 
baptized May 13, 1726. He married Sarah Redman about 
1750. He addressed, before leaving home, April 16, 1756, 
a letter of "advice " to his two children, Jonathan and Chloe. 
This was sealed with eight seals, and the gold ring of his 
wife, who had died some sixteen months previous, was en- 
closed. The "advice" was considered so excellent that it 
was printed ; and a copy, yellow with age, and badly torn, 
is before me as I write. The writer urges his children "to 
mind the one thing needful, to beware of bad company, to 
avoid all sin, to read your books, especially the Bible, and 
be frequent at the public worship of God, especially when 
performed according to the rites and usages of the Church 

of England, etc." Samuel Lyon and Badcock died at 

Lake George in February, 1756. William Jordan and Ben- 
jamin Tolman died at Halifax the same month and year. 

In 1757 William Wheeler, Jr., and John Tolman were 
troopers in the troop commanded by Capt. Thomas Vose, 
and went with him to the relief of Fort William Henry. 

Joseph Adlington (son of Mathew), went to Louisburg 
under Captain Chadburn,in Colonel Bayley's regiment. Ru- 
fus Hayward went to Crown Point in Samuel Jenks's com- 
pany, and was taken down with small-pox. Simeon Fisher 
was a private in Capt. Sylvester Richmond's company, in 
Capt. John White's regiment, and died soon after the 
expiration of his time of service. 

David Lyon enlisted in the campaign against Montreal 
in Samuel Richmond's company. At Ticonderoga he was 


attacked with small-pox, and did not return to Stoughton 
until January. 

Benjamin Tupper was born in Sharon, on the nth of 
March, 1738. In 1754 he marched to the eastward in the 
company commanded by Capt. Nathan Perry. He entered 
the military service of the Revolution at the breaking out 
of the war, and received the appointment of major in the 
regiment of Colonel Fellows. Nov. 4, 1775, he was com- 
missioned lieutenant-colonel of Ward's regiment, and ap- 
pointed colonel of the Eleventh Regiment, July 7, 1777. He 
was present at the siege of Boston, was active and vigilant 
in the battles with Burgoyne, and at Monmouth had a horse 
shot under him. He rose by his own merits to the rank 
of brigadier-general by brevet, some time before the Con- 
tinental army was disbanded. Ever active, vigilant, and 
brave, he was one of the enterprising and effective officers 
of that illustrious army which achieved our national inde- 
pendence. An incident which happened July 31, 1775, has 
been handed down to us by tradition. A number of work- 
men having been sent down to the lighthouse in Boston 
Harbor to repair it, under a guard of twenty-two marines 
and a subaltern, Major Tupper marched his men to Dor- 
chester and there informed them that they were about to 
proceed down the harbor to drive the British troops off the 
islands. "Now," said the major, addressing his company, 
which consisted of about three hundred men, " if there is 
any one of you who is afraid and does not want to go with 
us, let him step two paces to the front ; " and turning to 
the sergeant, he said, sotto voce, "If any man steps two 
paces to the front, shoot him on the spot." It is need- 
less to add that every man kept his position. The troops, 
commanded by Major Tupper, proceeded from Dorchester 
down the Neponset River in whale-boats. They arrived 
at the lighthouse about two o'clock in the morning and 
attacked the guard, killing the officers and four privates. 
The remainder of the ministerial troops were captured, 
together with ten Tories, who were immediately sent to 


Springfield jail. Being detained by the tide, the major on 
his return was himself attacked by several boats, but hap- 
pily escaped with the loss of one man killed and one 
wounded. After the close of the Revolution he resided at 
Chesterfield, Mass., until 1788, when he removed to Ohio. 
The following year he was chosen judge of the Quarter 
Sessions, and presided in that court until his death, which 
occurred June 7, 1792. His history belongs to Sharon, 
and has been written by Mr. Solomon Tal"bot, of that 

As early as 1730, I find David Thompson working on the 
bridge that crossed the brook near what is now the works 
of the Kinsley Iron and Machine Company. The next year 
he owned the covenant, was baptized, and in 1740 removed 
from Canton to Stoughton. In 1736, on. the i8th of March, 
he was married to Mary, the daughter of Thomas and Mar}- 
(Houghton) Blackman, who lived nearly opposite the bury- 
ing-ground in Stoughton. This Mrs. Blackman's mother 
had a curious and interesting history. It is said that she 
married Ralph Houghton, Jr. , and that at the age of twenty- 
eight she was at Jamaica, in. the West Indies, at the time of 
the great earthquake in that island. The history of Dor- 
chester gives the following extract from an old manuscript : 

"In 1692 Mrs. Mary Horton, widow of Ralph Horton, was sunke 
ill ye earthquake at Jemeco the seventh day of June, between Eleven 
and twelve a clock at nunc. Y° above named person was then 28 
years of age from March y° last past." 

Another account says she heard and felt the earthquake, 
and rushed to the door; and as the place sunk in the water, 
she clung to the sill of the house, which separated from the 
building. She remained in the water three days and three 
nights, when a vessel passed by and she was taken on board. 
Her trunk of clothing floated within her reach and was 
saved. She afterward lived at a tavern in Dorchester, and 
waited on travellers. One day a stranger entered the tavern 
to put up for the night; she recognized him as her hus- 
band, and the shock was such that they both fainted, — he 


having supposed that she was lost in the earthquake, and 
she that he was lost at sea, being gone on a voyage at the 
time of the disaster. Another version of the story is that 
he was lost with her at Jamaica, and was picked up by 
another vessel. 

They could not have been separated long, for Mary, their 
daughter, was born June 30, 1695, and was married to 
Thomas Blackman, March 23, 1714. In her old age Mrs. 
Houghton came to live with her daughter, and was so poor 
as to be assisted by the town. The house in which she 
lived has long since disappeared. It stood on the westerly 
side of Pearl Street, nearly opposite the old house now 
standing, which was visited by the Canton Historical So- 
ciety in 188 1, and concerning the builder of which there 
was some question. An ancient record informs me that on 
the "ninth of April, 1767, the widow Mary Houghton died, 
aged one hundred and four years and eleven days ; " and in 
an ancient diary kept by one of the fathers of the town I 
find this record: "April 10, 1767, Mrs. Mary Horton buried, 
aged one hundred and five years." The Boston "News 
Letter " says, " She had been very healthy, and retained her 
senses to the last." David Thompson, who married her 
daughter, had a son David, Jr., born Jan. 14, 1738. At 
the age of seventeen he was with General Winslow in Nova 
Scotia. Two years later, in 1757, he lost his left arm by 
a bomb at the storming of Fort William Henry by the 
French, under Montcalm. For his services he received a 
pension. He is well remembered by many now living, 
among others Mr. Ellis Ames, Mr. Jesse Holmes, Mr. 
Samuel Capen, Mr. William B. Trask, the latter of whom 
writes of him, — 

" In our youthful days he used to make occasional visits at the 
home of one of his descendants in Dorchester. He had a form erect 
and commanding, and a firm and majestic step. His countenance 
was bright and expressive, and according to our impression he was 
one of the best specimens of an old soldier we ever saw. We used to 
look upon him with veneration, almost with awe, as a rare sight in 
those days, — a live soldier of the French War." 


He received, in 1760, from his father, the house still 
standing just north of the old Stoughton Cemetery, said to 
be the second oldest house in that town. In 1765 he was 
recommended by the selectmen as a fit person to sell spir- 
ituous liquors. He asserts that his house is "accomodated " 
for the retailing of such refreshment, and he received his 
license accordingly. 

David, the "one armed," died in 1836. He had a brother 
Ebenezer, born in 1742, who died Nov. 16, 1760, in his 
Majesty's service, at "y' westward," only eighteen years 
of age. 

There died in his Majesty's service at Lake George, 
Aug. 14, 1758, Isaac, son of Lieut. John and Kariah Holmes, 
aged nineteen; October 14, Jonas, son of Richard and Mary 
Stickney, aged eighteen; and July 30, Jeremiah, son of 
Richard and Sarah Hixson. 

In 1759 John Spare and Jesse Tilson, both from the 
north part of Canton, were in the expedition to Halifax, of 
which they kept a diary. Jesse lived on Blue Hill Street, 
and died Jan. 9, 1769, aged fifty-six. Micah French was 
first lieutenant in Captain Carey's company, Abijah Wil- 
lard's regiment. He raised a number of men for the ex- 
pedition against Canada, served six months, and came home 
without leave. 

The following soldiers from Stoughton were at Halifax 
this year, in Capt. Josiah Thacher's company, in Col. John 
Thomas's regiment : Ebenezer Allen, Ebenezer Dickerman, 
— discharged Nov. 8, 1759, — Solomon Stickney, at Pisquet, 
June 24, 1760. Lieut. Thomas Penniman was absent in 
his Majesty's service this year. 

Thomas, son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Clough) Glover, 
was conscripted into the service in the French and Indian 
War of 1755-59. William Monk became his substitute, 
and was at the taking of Quebec, under General Wolfe, and 
also at the battle on the Plains of Abraham, 1759. He 
came to Stoughton in 1748. 

Isaac, son of Samuel Copeland, was a soldier in Captain 
Phillips's company, Colonel Frey's regiment. 


John Spear (probably Spare) had a son John, who was a 
minor. He enlisted into the government service with Capt. 
Josiah Dunbar, in 1761, and was that fall drafted to Capt. 
Job Williams's company, to remain at Crown Point during 
the winter, the troops being enlisted on the ist of July, 
1762. At the expiration of this time, he re-enlisted with 
his captain until the ensuing fall, and returned home when 
the troops were dismissed from the service. He received 
about a quarter of his wages on Captain Dunbar's roll, and 
but a trifle on Captain Williams's. He was sick at Crown 
Point all the winter, which put him to a great expense, and 
continued sick after he was dismissed. 

Robert Pritchard, formerly a member of the Second 
Battalion of Royal Scotch in North America, having been 
discharged as an invalid at Halifax, wandered in a poor and 
distressed condition to Stoughton, where his necessities 
were relieved by Mr. John Spare. 

The process of bounty-jumping seems to have been un- 
derstood in ancient as well as in modern times. Ebenezer 
Nightingale, who is recorded as having absconded about 
1760, enlisted some two years after in his Majesty's ser- 
vice under Captain Bent. He went to the castle, received 
his bounty, and was described as being thirty-nine years of 
age, by occupation a farmer, " fairish complection, blew eyes, 
brown hair, and five feet six inches in height. " With him 
went Ebenezer Allen, who was then twenty-one years of 
age, a native of Norton. He was a husbandman, of "dark 
complection, with dark eyes and black hair." Also men 
by the name of Buffington and Lemuel Kingman received 
the king's bounty. They all deserted on the night of May 
18, 1762, and returned to Stoughton, where for some time 
they were secreted in the woods, food being furnished them 
by Tural and George Allen. A reward of £,6 for their ap- 
prehension was immediately offered by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Gay, then in command at the castle. A detachment from 
the garrison visited Stoughton, and surrounded Mr. Eben- 
ezer Stearns's old forge-house, where they were supposed to 
have taken refuge ; but the birds had flown. 


On the 17th of June, the same notice appears in the 
Boston "News Letter," with the additional information — 

"that Ebenezer Nightingale and Lemuel Kingman have been 
heard of in Johnston, Rhode Island Government, where they were 
suspected of stealing, but got away into Scituate, in said government, 
and are said to be at the house of James Pettigrew. The said Night- 
ingale calls himself John Spear." 




REV. THERON BROWN says "the ancient town of 
Stoughton, which included the present Canton, was the 
cradle of New England middle-age psalmody, — that strange, 
quaint, minor mode, with its ' down, up ' time and its com- 
plicated fugues, whose most ch?iracteristic specimens are 
now presented and performed as musical curiosities. ' Port- 
land ' and ' Lenox ' and ' Windham,' ' Lebanon ' and ' Majesty,' 
' New Jerusalem ' and the ' Easter Anthem,' were all born 
upon the soil; and the familiar Canton names of Capen, 
Tilden, Tolman, French, Dickerman, and Belcher appeared 
ninety years ago on the list of the singing class of William 
Billings." Long before the singing-school of Billings, a 
young man named Elijah Dunbar learned while going through 
Harvard College, in addition to his Greek and Latin, the art 
of reading music. On his graduation in 1760, he returned 
to his native town and at once organized a singing-school 
and gave to his neighbors the benefit of his knowledge. 

In 1762 I learn from the " History of Dorchester " that " there 
was a singing meeting at Stoughton," and two years later I 
have evidence that there was an organization in working order 
for the purpose of practising in vocal music. This was the 
year the small-pox visited Canton, and it was deemed expe- 
dient to send word to the Bridgewater singers who were wont 
to attend not to come over. Singing meetings were held at 
the houses of neighbors ; sometimes it would appear that they 
had " prodigious jangling." On the 13th of December, 1764, 
when William Billings was married to Mary Leonard, there 
were more than forty persons at the wedding, and the singing 

MUSIC. 307 

must have been very fine. Mr. John Stickney seems to have 
known something about the art, for when Jesse Billings came 
from Hatfield, and wanted some one to teach them to sing, 
Stickney went to their assistance. In 1766 " our singers are 
at Mr. Adams's." John Kenney, a fine bass singer, went with 
Elijah Dunbar to Boston to buy new books the same year ; 
and they on March 19 " draw books and sing the old soth the 
first time." On Feb. 11, 1767, the Braintree singers came to 
Canton, but got into a religious discussion and had " a re- 
markable time ; " subsequently they met at the old May 
tavern on March 9, all the differences were made up, and 
■" there seems to be great love and harmony." On August 4, 
they have in the old gambrel-roofed house still standing at 
Ponkapoag " sweet singing at Elijah Crane's," and on the 24th 
■" fine fidling." In 1770 new books were introduced; and on 
the 2 1st of December, they were used in the house of Samuel 
Capen for the first time. During the interval from the year 
1764 to 1774, the principal persons belonging to this society, 
or the persons at whose houses they met, were : Elijah Dun- 
bar, Elijah Crane, Squire Dickerman, John Stickney, John 
Kenney, Samuel Capen, Enoch Leonard, John McKendry, 
Thomas Crane, Henry Stone, Theophilus Lyon, Robert Red- 
man, George Blackman, Philip Liscom, Asahel Smith, Sam- 
uel Tilden, Wadsworth Talbot, Abner Crane, William Patrick, 
Benjamin Gill, Jeremiah Ingraham, John Withington. 

In 1774 William Billings, then twenty-eight years of age, 
gave instruction in music, or, as they would have said, taught 
a singing-school in the tavern of Robert Capen. He inter- 
ested the young people of Stoughton in his work, inspired 
them with his own enthusiasm, organized them into choirs, 
taught them to despise foreign music, especially that of Eng- 
land, and jumbled religion arid patriotism into his stanzas with 
such a grace that he became the most successful organizer 
of music in America. 

In Canton and vicinity the seed fell on good ground, and 
in due time she outranked all her sister towns. 

It may be of interest to reproduce this list copied from 
the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. 



" List of scholars at Wm. 
Stoughton, Jan., 1774-" 

Singers of Tenor. 
George Monk. 
John Wadsworth, Jr. 
Lazarus Pope. 
Dr. Peter Adams. 
Jacob French. 
Robert Swan, Jr. 
Joseph Wadsworth. 
Andrew Capen. 
Ruth Tilden. 
Abigail Jones. 
Elizabeth Tolman. 
Hannah Wadsworth. 
Abigail Wadsworth. 
Susanna Capen. 
Jerusha Dickerman. 
Elizabeth Dickerman. 
Mehitabel Talbot. 
Esther Talbot. 
The Fenno girls. 
Lydia Gay. 

Singers of Counter. 
David Wadsworth. 
Theophilus Capen. 
Thomas Tolman. 
Isaac Morton. 
Eliphalet Johnson. 

Billings' Sacred Music Singing School at 

Singers of Treble. 
Lucy Swan. 
Jerusha Pope. 
Patience Drake. 
WaitstJU Capen. 
Hannah Holmes. 
Bethiah Capen. 
Eunice Holmes. 
Hannah Capen. 
Chloe Bird. 
Hannah Briggs. 
Keziah Bird. 
Mary French. 
Mindwell Bird. 
Elizabeth Cummings. 
Rachel Capen. 
Irene Briggs. 
Sarah Tolman. 
Meltiah Swan. 

Singers of Bass. 
Jonathan Belcher. 
Samuel .Tolman. 
William Tilden. 
George Wadsworth. 
John Capen. 

It seems that again we have the old story of love between 
teacher and pupil; for William Billings, the master, fell in 
love with Lucy Swan, the pupil, and they were married July 
26, 1774. 

On the 7th of November, 1786, about twenty-five persons, 
who were fond of music and of having a good social time, 
met together for the purpose of consultation in regard to 
organizing a musical society. A committee was appointed to 
draw up a constitution which was accepted on the 22d, and 

MUSIC. 309 

adopted, with some amendments, on the 8th of December. 
The original members were residents of what is now Canton 
and Stoughton. The organizations in the Stoughton and 
Canton precincts uniting, they made choice of Hon. Ehjah 
Dunbar for their first president, and for twenty-two years 
he was re-elected. He was passionately fond of music, 
and had one of the finest collections of books on this 
subject then in the country.^ He had a voice like that of 
many waters, and rendered the old Continental music to per- 
fection. The first singing-book used by the society was 
" " The Worcester Collection." In 1828 the society published 
" The Stoughton Collection ; " but " Ancient Harmony Re- 
vived" was subsequently adopted. From the beginning to 
the present day the " Old Stoughton Musical Society " has 
had among its members some of the finest singers in the 
State. Its meetings have always been attended with interest, 
the favorite times of meeting being artillery election days 
on the first Monday in June, and at Christmas-time. " It 
was," says John S. Dwight in the "Atlantic Monthly," 1882, 
" the earliest in New England, and the harbinger of the Boston 
Handel and Haydn Society." 

The fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the society 
was held at Stoughton on Jan. 2, 1837, postponed for conven- 
ience from Nov. 7, 1836. The celebration consisted of an 
•address by Ebenezer Alden, M. D., musical selections, and a 
banquet. Only five of the original members were present 
and took part in the celebration, — James and Jonathan 
Capen, of Stoughton, Andrew Capen, of Boston, Nathan 
Crane, of Canton, and Atherton Wales, of Lyme, N. H. 

At the beginning of this century the hall in Carroll's 
tavern. Canton, resounded to the sounds of the old Conti- 
nental music, and the following ladies and gentlemen were 
then members of the Old Stoughton Musical Society : — 

Gen. Nathan Crane, with his sons, Enos Crane, and Na- 
than Crane, Jr., Isaac Billings, the brothers Samuel and An- 
drew Capen, Samuel Canterbury, Friend Crane, the brothers 
Phineas, Samuel, and Uriah Leonard, the brothers Lemuel, 

1 See Appendix XVIII. 


Jason, Nathaniel, and Alexander French, Thomas Dunbar,, 
James Beaumont, John Blackman, Betsy Crane, Hannah 
Dunbar, Mary Leonard, Katie McKendry, Avis French, and. 
Nancy Leonard. 

In the Stoughton Musical Society's Centennial Collection, 
published in 1878, appears the following reminiscence: 

"In the year 1790 or thereabouts, — so the tradition runneth, — 
the art of singing was so well developed in Stoughton that the sing- 
ing in church attracted the attention of the ministers who indulged in 
the neighborly acts of exchanges. With the best intention to increase 
the efficiency of their own church service, these ministers reported 
that they heard better music at Stoughton than at any other place. 
Reports then took to themselves wings, as they do now, and they soon, 
reached the good people of Dorchester, even to the singers of the old 
First Parish, from whose broad limits have sprung so many other 
churches to bless the land. These well-trained singers of the old 
town so near the ' Bay,' from whose shores emanated then, as now 
from ' the Hub,' excellence in art, grace in scholarship, and refinement 
in Uving, could ill brook the judgment that Dorchester did not wear 
the honors in the art of singing as in many other accomplishments. 
Confident in their ability, and ready to test it, they challenged the 
Stoughton singers to a trial. The challenge was accepted ; a meeting 
arranged. It was held in a large hall in Dorchester, and, says the 
narrator, who was one of the singers, ' the hall was filled with promi- 
nent singers far and near, including many notables from Boston.' The 
Dorchester contestants had a bass viol and female singers. The 
Stoughton party consisted of twenty selected male voices, without 
instruments, and led by Squire Elijah Dunbar, the President of the 
Stoughton Musical Society, who was not only one of the most accom- 
plished singers of his day, but disdnguished for his commanding, 
presence and dignified bearing. The Dorchester party sang first an 
anthem recently published, executing it with grace and precision. 
The Stoughton party followed with Jacob French's new anthem, 
'The Heavenly Vision,' rendered without book or notes. The ap- 
plause was unbounded as they took their seats. Again the Dorchester 
choir sang ; then to close the tournament, the Stoughton choir without 
book Handel's grand Hallelujah chorus, recently published in this 
country by Isaiah Thomas. The Dorchester singers acknowledged 
defeat, and confirmed judgment of the ministry. So endeth this inci- 
dent of the olden time." 

MUSIC. 311 

There were men belonging to this society who were no 
mean composers of music. "New Bethlehem " was composed 
by Edward French, who was born in Canton in 176 1, and died 
in Sharon in 1845. -^ brother of his, Jacob French, born 
July 15, 1754, was even more distinguished. He published 
in early life the "New American Melody," in 1793 the 
" Psalmodist Companion," and " The Harmony of Harmo- 
nies " in 1802. "The Heavenly Vision," the most widely 
known of all his anthems, was published in the Worcester 
Collection, the copyright of which he sold to Isaiah Thomas. 
These two eminent composers were the sons of Jacob, who 
is first seen in Canton in 1748, and Mariam (Downes) French ; 
their parents were married Nov. 22, 1751, and the children 
were baptized, Jacob on July 21, 1754, and Edward, Nov. i, 
1761. The father was born March 8, 1728, and in 1756 was 
a corporal in the company of Captain Sturtevant, and is men- 
tioned in an old manuscript as one who went ashore at the 
" East Passage." On April 3, 1763, a contribution was taken 
up for him in the old meeting-house, because he was wounded, 
— whether in battle or not, there is no information. He re- 
sided near the old Stearns house on Chapman Street. 

Samuel Capen was the author of " Norfolk Harmony," and 
at the ordination of Mr. Ritchie " he headed and conducted 
the music, both vocal and instrumental." 

This marvellous attention to music of course had its effect 
upon the singing in the meeting-house. In very early days 
it was a simple affair. Soon after the precinct was formed, 
on the i6th of June, 1721, it was voted that Peter Lyon set 
the psalm. It was not a difficult matter for the congrega- 
tion to follow him ; for it is asserted that for nearly a hundred 
years after the arrival of the Pilgrims, not more than five or 
six different tunes were used or known. 

The Rev. Samuel Dunbar was a good singer, and as early 
as 1740 had the matter brought up in church meeting. Some 
of the brethren desired that new tunes be introduced, and on 
the next Lord's Day, in the evening, it was to be decided ; 
but so intense was the excitement that when the 'time for tak- 
ing the vote arrived, it was deemed in the interest of harmony 


to postpone the balloting for another week, and when that 
time arrived, it was voted that some " new tunes be added to 
y^ old ones," and that Mr. Dunbar set them. 

The first book used by the singers in Canton was without 
doubt the one commonly in vogue at the earliest formation 
of the church, — a versification of dogmas and creeds turned 
into rhyme. But in 1765 Elijah Dunbar desired to have Dr. 
Watts's version of the Psalms adopted and sung by the con- 
gregation, which was accordingly done on the 21st of August. 
In 1778 it was voted that the tunes should be named by the 
chorister before they were set, and that the chorister pitch 
the tune by a pitch-pipe. This vote was said by the wicked 
ones to have been passed, because there was one tune with 
which the chorister was familiar, but with which Mr. Dunbar 
was not, and the chorister always struck up that tune ; pitch- 
ing was done by the old-fashioned implement. A few years 
later one of our townsmen, the late Mr. James Bazin, invented 
a pitch-pipe that could be carried in the vest-pocket. 

Some tunes were not relished. On the striking up of 
"Ailesbury" on Feb. 11, 1770, old William Wheeler got up 
and went out of meeting. 

In 1783 it was voted to read a psalm to be sung; and three 
years later the position of the singers, which had been on the 
east side of the alley, was changed to a more conspicuous 
position in the middle of the gallery. 

In 1798 so crystallized had become the dislike to the enor- 
mities of Watts that Elijah Dunbar was pleased when Dr. 
Belknap brought out his " Sacred Poetry." It was an index 
of the theological standing of any church at that time whether 
they retained Watts or adopted Belknap. If they retained 
Watts, they were Trinitarians ; if they adopted Belknap, Uni- 
tarians. Belknap's book was adopted and continued in use 
until 1825. In 1794 musical instruments were introduced, — 
the bass viol and flute, — which to some gave great offence, 
for as soon as the tuning began, Mr. Adam Blackman would 
take his hat and walk out of meeting. 

The hymn-book in use in 1826 bears not the name of the 
compiler; but the Preface is dated Cambridge, 1825. In 

MUSIC. 313 

1830 Dr. Greenwood published his " Psalms and Hymns 
for Christian Worship," which was adopted and in use until 
1869, when the " Hymn and Tune Book, with Liturgy," pub- 
lished by the American Unitarian Association, was adopted, 
and is still in use. 

Deacon Thomas Dunbar was a famous singer, and often 
led the concerts of the Stoughton Musical Society. He up- 
held the fame of his father and his grandfather, and on his 
sons fell the duty of maintaining the singing in the old parish. 
Thomas Dunbar was born July 25, 1775, and died Dec. 8, 
1855. He married. May 21, 1804, Chloe, daughter of Wil- 
liam and Chloe (Blackman) Bent. She was born March 9, 
1781, and died May 4, 1852. He resided at the Hardware, 
in a house which stands almost on the site of the house in 
which General Gridley lived and died. He was a worthy 
citizen, a zealous Christian, an honest man. 

Samuel Leonard, commonly known as " Major Sam," is 
described to me by one who knew him well as " a heavenly 
singer." He was the son of Enoch and Mary (Wentworth) 
Leonard; married Avis, daughter of Thomas and Salome 
(Babcock) French, Feb. 11, 1813, and died Oct. 19, 1854, 
aged seventy-nine years. His wife. Avis French, belonged 
to a musical family. Her mother was a Babcock, sister to 
old Master Lemuel, — a famous singer in old times ; and her 
grandmother was Abigail Pitcher, a name also famous in 
musical annals. Her brothers, Lemuel, Jason, Thomas, Alex- 
ander, and Nathaniel, were all good singers, and were second 
cousins to the famous composers, Jacob and Edward. 

Friend Crane and Nathan Kenney were also noted for their 
fine voices. 



IN the early days of the settlement the officers of the 
militia were men chosen for their standing and worth. 
To be an officer was to be a gentleman, to be regarded 
with respect; and the title lasted long after withdrawal from 
active service. " Once a captain always a captain," was an 
old and true saying ; and the ancient deeds append the title of 
" gentleman " to all who had held commissions in the service 
of his Majesty. It was an ill-bred person who addressed 
such a one \yithout his proper title ; and we often see in our 
ancient records the titles of ensign, sergeant, corporal, and 
cornet. As time wore on, this custom changed, and no man 
claimed the honor of a title below the rank of captain. Later 
we seldom hear of the " leftenant." From the town records 
but slight information is to be obtained in regard to the 
militia, as they were under control of the State. The mil- 
itary system which was kept up after the Revolution did 
much to encourage the growth of rum-drinking; and the 
May and fall trainings were occasions of general intoxica- 
tion. It was the custom of a man who wanted to rise in 
office to drench his commission in rum ; universal custom 
rendered it necessary ; and the officer who wanted popularity 
must treat his men. Those who in ordinary circumstances 
would have remained at home and attended to their business 
were obliged to go to muster, and must treat their friends 
and be in turn treated. The ancient custom of the officers 
wetting their commissions was in vogue from the settlement 
of the town, as the following extracts from an ancient diary 
will show : — 


" 1764, December 5th, Ensign Bob Capen makes his treat to-day. 
— 1766, October 6, Go to Capt. Tisdales treat. — Dec. 18, Withing- 
ton treats. — Oct. 12, 1773, Capt. Atherton lays down his commission 
and makes a good treat." 

The officers were not always able to afford a treat, for their 
expenses were of some consideration ; aside from their uni- 
forms, they must have gold-laced hats, and fancy swords. 
The result of this was that after inspection, and sometimes be- 
fore, the soldier of the period was often drunk, and small 
boys used to take him by the heels and drag him around 
the parade-ground. The musters were also occasions for 
the assembling of all the vagrants in the vicinity ; volleys of 
oaths mixed with cries of " giner-bread " and " lemonade " 
assailed the ears of the multitude, and one could scarcely 
move without stumbling over the form of some drunken man. 

In early days it Would appear that our companies were 
joined with Milton, and to that town our young men were 
forced to go for drill. That they did not always obey the 
summons is clearly shown by an ancient, faded, and torn docu- 
ment now before me, bearing no date, but probably belong- 
ing between 1740 and 1750, for the following were absent 
from military duty : Corporal Consider Atherton, Zebediah 
Wentworth, Abner Crane, Silas Crane, Timothy Kenney, 
William Wheeler, John Davenport, Jonathan Farrington, 
Isaac Fenno, Aaron Wentworth, Joseph Esty, Jr., John Sum- 
ner, John Hartwell, Samuel Payson, James Endicott, Sion ' 
Morse, Benjamin Tilson, William Billings, Henry Stone. 

Among the prominent men in Canton who held positions 
in the military, I find in 1741 the name of John Shepard as 

He was a resident of Stoughton before it was a township ; 
and when it became incorporated, he received from his fellow- 
townsmen every office it was in their power to bestow. For 
seven years he was a member of the board of selectmen, and 
their chairman for four years. For nine years he was moder- 
ator of the annual town meeting; he was guardian of the 
Ponkapoag Indians and a justice of the peace, and until he 
entered military life was known as " Squire," — a title more 


honored in his day than senator now. He rose by his own 
ability through the subordinate grades, and was appointed 
major in the militia. He commanded his regiment in 1746, 
and was encamped in the vicinity of Boston during the ad- 
ministration of Governor Shirley, when the French fleet, 
under D'Anville, was hovering on our coast. 

" For this Admiral d'Anville 

Had sworn by cross and crown 
To ravage with fire and steel 
Our helpless Boston town." 

In 1753 he was chosen to represent the town in the Great 
and General Court, but was expelled from the House at the 
June session. A committee from the General Court had vis- 
ited Ponkapoag and found upon the evidence of a number of 
the inhabitants that he had allowed his friends to cut wood 
on the Indians' land, and that for five years his accounts had 
been kept in ," chalks and memory." Notwithstanding this, 
he was re-elected by his constituents as a rebuke to the 
House for its action the previous year, and as a testimonial 
of the confidence and respect his fellow-townsmen held in 

The General Court without another investigation at once 
expelled him upon the report of the previous year, and 
passed the following resolve: — 

Province of the Massachusetts Bay, 
In the House of Representatives, November 15"', 1754. 

Resolved^ That Major John Shepard, of Stoughton, has so behaved 
in his breach of trust as guardian of the Puncapoag Indians, and in 
his mall conduct as a Justice of the Peace, that he is unworthy of a 
seat in this house, and that the clerk of this house be directed to erase 
his name out of )^ roll, and that Mr. Speaker issue a precept to y° 
town of Stoughton for y° choice of a representative. 

Major John Shepard married. May 18, 1721, Rebecca 
Fenno. In his latter years he became poor; and in the 
ninety-second year of his age, at the house of his son-in- 
law, Samuel Tucker, at York, on the 30th of August, 1781, 
he passed away, unknown to the generation among whom 
he moved, — a stranger in his own land. 


The Billings family figure quite prominently in our annals 
of military life. One of our early settlers, William, was an 
ensign in 1725, and afterward lieutenant. He resided west 
of the Dedham road, in an old house now demolished. 

Another military man, Col. Roger Billings, also resided in 
the same old house. He was the son of" good old Stephen " 
and Elizabeth (Fenno) Billings, and was born March 15, 1730. 
He received one half of the estate of his uncle, " old Lieut 
William," dying Jan. 29, 1802. His son Jonathan was the 
last occupant of the house, and in his time it was allowed to 
decay. As a soldier in the Revolutionary War, he escaped 
the bullets of the British to die aboard ship on a home voy- 
age from Georgia, May 15, 1801. He was buried at sea; and 
it is said that as soon as his body touched the water, it was 
immediately devoured by a shark or some other sea-monster. 

Capt John Billings was the son of Joseph and Ruhami 
(Babcock) Billings, who together kept the " old Billings," 
afterward called the Blue Hill Tavern, in Milton. He was 
born May 29, 1722, and died Oct. 3, 1786. He was called 
" Capt John the Elder," for he had a son John who was a 
lieutenant, and whose gravestone has the following peculiar 
inscription : — 

" In memory of y° R^ Lieut John Billings Jr. who departed this 
life Oct. y= 22'*, 1782, in y= 38* year of his age." 

We are also informed that — 

" His dust waits till the jubilee, 
Shall then shine brighter than the skies, 
Shall meet, and join to part no more 
His soul, that was glorified before 
Wives and children happy be 
With husbands parents such as he 
Present useful, absent wanted. 
Lived desired, and died lamented." 

Another member of this family has the inscription : — 

" In memory of y° R'^ Lieut William Billings, who departed this 
life Feb>' y= 9* 1783 in y" 66"' year of his age." 


Isaac, the brother of Colonel Roger, was a captain. He was 
born July 14, 1745, and died Jan. 3, 1818. He at one time 
kept the ferry across the Neponset. 

He married, Sept. 7, 1769, Mary McKendry ; and Isaac, a 
lieutenant in 1 806 and a major in 1807, who died March 12, 
1854, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, was his son. They 
both resided at Packeen. 

In 1744 Charles Wentworth was a lieutenant in the Third 
Company of the Fourth Regiment, and was promoted to cap- 
tain in 1746, upon the promotion of John Shepard to the 
position of major. The same year Silas Crane was a lieuten- 
ant, and was promoted to captain in 1748. In 1757 the com- 
mand of the Canton company was in the hands of John 
Billings ; and his lieutenants were Nathaniel May and Nathan- 
iel Leonard, the latter of whom was a lieutenant in 1752. In 
1763 the captains were Consider Atherton, Ebenezer Tisdale, 
and Samuel Billings, Jr., none of whom resided in Canton ; 
but the next year Samuel Wentworth was the captain, John 
Withington, Jr., lieutenant, and Samuel Chandler ensign. 

On Dec. 18, 1766, Benjamin Gill received his commission 
as lieutenant, and Ensign Blackman's commission was read. 
In 1 77 1 Gill received his captaincy; John Davenport and 
Asahel Smith were commissioned his lieutenants. Passing 
the period of the Revolution, I find that the number of per- 
sons who were entitled to rank as gentlemen, having held 
commissions, had wonderfully increased. Among the offi- 
cers in 1 78 1 were the following: colonels, Richard Gridley, 
Thomas Doty, Benjamin Gill; captains, Jedediah South- 
worth, who had been an ensign in 1775, Thomas Crane, who 
was a corporal in 1757 and a major before he died, James En- 
dicott, Abner Crane, Asahel Smith, and Isaiah Bussey, the 
latter of whom had been an ensign in 1775, Benjamin Bussey, 
John Tucker, John Billings, and Nathan Crane. The lieuten- 
ants in 178 1 were Edward Downes, Elijah Wentworth, David 
Lyon, Benjamin Tucker, John Puffer, and Samuel Capen. 

Nathan Crane was the son of Deacon Elihu and Eliza- 
beth (Houghton) Crane. He was born Nov. 27, 1748, and 
died Dec. lo, 1837. He lived on the homestead of his 


father on Green Street, and from the location of his residence 
was known as the Northern General, to distinguish him from 
Gen. Elijah Crane, who lived at South Canton. In politics 
they were as widely separated as were their residences. Na- 
than was a rabid Republican, while Elijah was a stanch Fed- 
eralist. Nathan married for his first wife, Feb. 13, 1772, 
Esther Damon; she died Nov. 24, 1807. He subsequently 
married the Widow Hannah (Withington) Howe. He had 
seen some service in the Revolutionary army, and was an 
active man in town affairs. I first find him as a captain in 
the Third Regiment in 1783; in 1792 lieutenant-colonel, in 
1794 a colonel, and a brigadier-general in 1798. His son 
Nathan was adjutant in 1806. 

In 1783 his regiment trained on June 10 at Savage's tavern 
in Sharon, on October 6 at Canton Corner, and on October 
13 at Walpole. In 1787 it is stated that the regiment con- 
sisted of ten companies, and that four companies belonged to 
Stoughton. Much indignation was expressed by the Stough- 
ton officers that Ezra Badlam should have been elected colonel 
by the votes of the officers from Dorchester and Milton, with- 
out proper notification of the day of the election. 

Deacon Stephen Badlam, who removed from Milton to 
Stoughton with Hannah his wife in 1 748, had two sons, — named 
Stephen, born at Canton, 175 1, died Aug. 24, 1815 ; and Ezra, 
born May 25, 1745, died October, 1804. Left orphans at an 
early age, they had only the few advantages of education 
which district schools of those days afforded. At the break- 
ing out of the Revolution, Stephen joined the army, and soon 
after received a commission as second lieutenant of artillery, 
from which he was rapidly promoted to first lieutenant, and 
then to captain. He was ordered to join the army under the 
command of General Lee, in New York, who says of him, 
" Captain Badlam is a man of great merit in his way." While 
there, he formed the acquaintance of Alexander Hamilton, 
who appreciated his talents as an engineer. To Washington 
he was well known, and was highly esteemed by him. From 
New York, Stephen sailed for Canada, to take command of 
the artillery there, and was in time promoted to the rank of 


major. From Canada he returned to Crown Point, and took 
possession of a fortified eminence on the Fourth of July, 
1776, which he called Fort Independence, which name was 
afterward confirmed by General Gates. This ended his mili- 
tary career ; being seized with a violent fever, he resigned his 
commission, and retired to private life. 

Ezra Badlam also entered the service early. He was com- 
missioned as captain, June 22, 1775 ; and upon the recommen- 
dation of the Committee of Safety to the Provincial Congress, 
he took the place of John Wiley in the artillery. On August 4 
following, he was attached to Gridley's regiment. In 1776 he 
was with Colonel Baldwin at Trenton and Princeton ; and we 
have before us his return as captain in the Honorable Col. 
Richard Gridley's regiment. In August, 1777, he was commis- 
sioned as major for personal bravery displayed in a sortie 
from Fort Schuyler against the Indians. In September, 1777, 
he was at Albany, suffering from fever and ague, which he 
had contracted at the siege of Fort Stanwix. He speaks en- 
couragingly of the status of the army, commends their enthu- 
siasm, is rejoiced at their excellent spirits, and is glad that 
the confusion with which the army has been surrounded has 
passed away. In the momentary expectation of a general 
action, he expresses his belief that it will turn in favor of the 
Americans ; and that in a few days, by the help of Almighty 
God, they will be able to give a very good account of General 
Burgoyne and his army. He says that the communications 
of the latter are cut off so that no more provisions can reach 
him. The Indians and Tories, he writes, begin to think we 
are too strong for the British army. 

In speaking of the battle of Stillwater on the 19th of Octo- 
ber, he says, — 

"We had sixty-four killed, two hundred and seventeen wounded, and 
thirty-seven missing. Deserter? inform us that the enemy had one 
hundred and forty-four killed at the time, and forty-four have died 

He complains bitterly of the high price of everything, and 
believes that before long the officers will be obliged to resign 


thieir commissions if the people who have the reins of gov- 
ernment in their hands do not speedily devise some more 
efficient way of paying the soldiers. On the 3d of February, 
1780, he was captured by the British under Colonel Norton, 
at White Plains. Serving throughout the Revolution and 
Sha5'^s's Rebellion, he received, at the close of the former, the 
rank of brigadier-general by brevet. 

Archibald McKendry, son of John, the first of the name in 
Canton, was born in 1756, and died April 7, 1806. He resided 
on the Turnpike, on the right-hand side as you drive to 
Stoughton from Ponkapoag, where the house is still standing. 
He was a captain, and was the father of Captain William of 
Ponkapoag, and of Colonel Benjamin. During the last decade 
of the century a squadron of cavalry was organized which 
was under the command of Capt. Elijah Crane. It figured 
at the Fourth of July celebration In 1789. During these 
years, I find the name of Jesse Davenport as adjutant. Soon 
after the beginning of the present century, I find Nathan Gill 
as major, and in May^ 1802, lieutenant-colonel. Nathaniel 
Whiting was lieutenant in 1800, major in 1804, and lieutenant- 
colonel in 1807. In 1 80 1 Amos Upham was ensign, and cap- 
tain in 1804. Michael Shaller was ensign in 1798, lieutenant 
in 1 803 ; and in 1 804 Samuel Leonard was ranked the same. 
A captain in 1809, he subsequently rose to be major. Adam 
Kinsley was captain in 1803, and Jonathan Upham in 1804. 
In 1806 Lemuel Bailey was ensign, in 1807 lieutenant, in 1809 
captain, and in 18 12 major of the Second Regiment, Second 
Brigade, First Division. In 1806 Thomas Dunbar was a lieu- 
tenant. In 1807 Benjamin McKendry was ensign; in 1808 
lieutenant, in 181 1 captain, and afterward colonel. His expe- 
rience was to be of service to his country at a later period. 

James Endicott was a son of James Endicott who was a cap- 
tain in the War of the Revolution ; his mother was Abigail 
Puffer. He was born in i y^, and was for many years a school- 
teacher. He first appeared in military life in 1789 ; the next 
year he received under the hand of John Hancock a commis- 
sion as lieutenant in a company belonging to the Fourth 
Massachusetts Regiment, and rose to be captain. He married 


in June, 1801, Betsey, daughter of William and Elizabeth 
(Strowbridge) Crane. He built the first brick house in Can- 
ton in 1807, was prominent in town affairs, and represented 
Canton in the General Court during the years 1832 and 1833. 
He died Feb. 22, 1834. 

Lemuel Tucker, the oldest son of Capt. John and Rachel 
(Thompson) Tucker, appears as lieutenant in 1807, and cap- 
tain in 1809. In 1812 he was promoted to major. He lived 
at the Farms on the site of the house now occupied by Mr. 
Ellis Tucker. He died May 4, 1845, aged seventy. 

In 1817 the chaplain of the regiment was the Rev. William 
Ritchie. John Tucker, 2d, was ensign in 1809, and captain 
in 181 1. He died April 7, 1808, aged seventy-one years and 
nine months. In 1808 Isaac Horton was quartermaster, and 
in 1809 Samuel Chandler was lieutenant. In 1807 the town 
voted to detach a number of men from the company by order 
of the Governor, but they went out themselves ; and in the 
same year the town voted to give five dollars to each officer 
and soldier that should uniform himself by the fall training. 
The train-band consisted of all able-bodied men between 
twenty-six and forty years of age, and only persons under 
sixty were on the alarm-list ; all ministers, negroes, grammar- 
school teachers, and Indians were exempt from this call. 
The equipments of a soldier consisted of one good fire-arm, 
bayonet, and cartridge-box holding fifteen cartridges, six 
flints, one pound of powder, forty balls, haversack, blanket, 
and canteen. 

Elijah Crane as brigade quartermaster. Second Brigade, 
First Division, presents a list of the military stores necessary 
to be provided by the town for the year 18 10. From this list 
it appears that the law required that the town should have 
in stock sixty-four pounds of good gunpowder, one hundred 
pounds of musket-balls, one hundred and twenty-eight flints, 
and three copper, iron, or tin camp-kettles for every sixty- 
four soldiers enrolled. 

There seem to have been two militia companies at this 
time in Canton, — one commanded by Capt. Nathaniel Hill, 
consisting of forty-six men, and one by Capt. Lemuel Bill- 
ings, consisting of sixty men. 


In 18 18 Jesse Pierce was colonel of a regiment. 

A low one story and a half red house, with a lean-to, stood 
■near the house now occupied by E. B. Thorndike, who uses 
the old well. The land was purchased in 173 1 from the sons 
of Joseph Tucker, and extending on to Frog Island, embraced 
that eminence known as Mount Enos. John Pierce, Jr., was 
the purchaser; and he, with Rebecca (Fenno) Pierce, were 
•occupants until his death, March 9, 1774. She died March 
13, 1783. In 1799 his heirs sold this property to Thomas 
Shepard, who was born Oct. 16, 1766, and died Jan. 11, 1835. 
It was in this house, in 1842, that Ivory Dana committed sui- 
-cide; and on June 8, 1844, it was burned. 

Jesse Pierce, the son of John, was born in this house 
Aug. 25, 1 75 1, and here he brought his bride, Catherine 
Smith, on the 7th of November, the same year. He re- 
moved with his parents to Stoughton in 1799, and resided 
there many years, where he was connected with town affairs, 
;also keeping school. He removed to Dorchester, where he 
"died Feb. 3, 1856. A son of his, Henry L. Pierce, has been 
Mayor of Boston and Representative to Congress, and for 
many years has occupied the Redman farm at Ponkapoag ; 
another son, Edward L. Pierce, served his country in the 
war, has held offices of honor under the government, was 
the biographer of Charles Sumner, and the author of a trea- 
tise on Railroad Law. 

On the retirement of Jesse Pierce, a meeting was held at 
■Cobb's tavern. May 27, 18 18, at which John Gay was elected 
•colonel and James Blackman lieutenant-colonel. Charles 
Tucker was at this time captain of the Canton company; 
Elijah Crane and Abijah Tucker lieutenants. Col. John Gay 
received his commission as lieutenant. May 4, 18 13, was pro- 
moted to captain, May 3, 1814, and major, June 9, 1817. 
Aside from his military position, he was quite prominent in 
town affairs. He was at one time on the school board, chair- 
man of the selectmen. Master in 1825 of Rising Star Lodge, 
often moderator of the town meetings, and represented the 
town in the General Court. He was the son of Lemuel and 
Abigail (Davenport) Gay, and was born in Canton, May 20, 


1792, attended the Milton Academy, and afterward taught 
the Blue Hill School. He kept a diary from the year 1818 
to the time of his death, which occurred Feb. 9, 185 1, to 
which I am indebted for the record of many important events 
and dates. His wife Susan, daughter of Solomon and Chloe 
(Gay), died Feb. 26, 1879, in her eighty-second year. 

The lieutenant-colonel, James Blackman, who was com- 
missioned captain, July 29, 18 15, was the son of George and 
Amy (Morse) Blackman, who were married Dec. 20, 1787, 
and on the ist of November, 1788, there was born to them 
this son James. The house in which he first saw the light 
was situated between the Eagle Inn and the present residence 
of William Horton. It was a long, one-story, gambrel-roofed 
house, with its end to the street. It disappeared about 1825,. 
and the present house of Mr. Horton was erected by Mr. 
James Blackman. In the shop, or end of the house toward 
the street, were made nearly all the coffins needed from 
1804 to 1829, and a recor^ which the colonel kept fixes ap- 
proximately many deaths the dates of which would other- 
wise have been lost. James Blackman removed in 1839 to 
the West, where, says one who knew him, he lived for thirty- 
five years " a blameless, quiet, modest, and pure life, full of 
kindness and good-will to his fellow-men, without a spot upon 
his character." He died March 16, 1874. 

In 18 1 5 Luther Swan commanded a company of cavalry 
of the First Division, Second Brigade, that contained many 
Canton names. 

In June, 181 8, William Tucker was cornet, lieutenant in 
1819, and subsequently captain. 

From 1821 to 1823, Leonard Kinsley was captain of the 
Canton company in the Second Regiment, Second Brigade. 
He was the son of Adam and Sarah (Leonard) Kinsley. He 
died Oct. 12, 1840, aged seventy-seven years. 

WiUiam McKendry was lieutenant in 1820, and captain in 
1824. He was the son of Capt. Archibald and Sarah (Crane) 
McKendry. He died Dec. 30, 1876, aged over eighty. He 
was a carpenter by trade, and many of the buildings now 
standing in Canton were erected by him. He always resided 


at Ponkapoag. He received property from his uncle, Lieu- 
tenant William, who was in the war of the Revolution. 

Charles Leonard, the son of Quaker Leonard, was a captain 
from 181 5 to 1823. He erected a forge on the privilege where 
Reed's cutlery works now stand, and once manufactured arms 
for the United States government, receiving therefor at one 
time, $1 1,000. He left Canton in 1826 in poor circumstances. 

July 8, 1822, Rev. Benjamin Huntoon was elected chaplain 
■of the regiment, and again the following year. Mr. Edwin 
Wentworth says when on parade he rode a jet-black, high- 
stepping horse, " and sat him as well as any man I ever 

James Bent was adjutant from 1819 to 1824; Leonard 
Everett quartermaster in 1822 ; the same year Frederic W. 
Lincoln was paymaster, major Feb. 13, 1827, and his subse- 
quent rank of lieutenant-colonel was received when aide-de- 
camp to Gov. Emory Washburn in 1854 and 1855. 

Simeon Tucker, Jr., was in 1822 " surgeon's mate," — a po- 
sition which had been occupied by Dr. Jonathan Stone in 

On March 25, 1822, was formed the "Crane Guards," — a 
;military organization, so named in honor of Major-Gen. 
Elijah Crane. To show his appreciation of the honor, he 
•determined to present them with a flag. On the 17th of 
October, 1823, the company were drawn up in front of his 
residence, and Miss Eliza Capen and Mrs. Harriet Drake 
assisted in the presentation. Mrs. Drake was the daughter 
of the general; she was born March 21, 1793, and died 
March i, 1830. Her first marriage to Col. Bethuel Drake, 
major in 1815, and lieutenant-'colonel in 1817, was announced 
in the " Boston Yankee," with the following additional lines, 
.supposed to have been from the pen of Charles Leonard : 

" Not birds of one peculiar feather 
In this new age shall wed together. 
The stately Crane and beauteous Drake, 
Each its own tribe seem to forsake ; 
If mutual love incline their breast, 
They feather well their nuptial nest." 


After the death of Colonel Drake, which occurred Nov. 20, 
1821, she married Elijah Atherton, Esq., of Stoughton 
Feb. 6, 1825. 

The banner then presented is still in existence, and bears 
on one side the coat of arms of Massachusetts, with the State 
motto; also the words, "By Arts and Arms we conquer," 
" God armeth the patriot," " Instituted Mar., 1822," "Crane's 
Guards." On the other side there is a picture of a church, 
with the Guards in uniform, consisting of a gray coat, white 
pantaloons, white cross-straps and belt, caps quite tall, with 
a spread eagle in front, and adorned with a long black feather. 
The banner also bore the words, "In defence of Liberty," 
" United we stand, divided we fall," " Presented by Maj.- 
Gen. Crane." 

The following is a list of the Crane Guards, attached to 
the Second Regiment, Second Brigade, First Division of 
Massachusetts Militia, 1823: — 


Elisha Crane, Captain; Luke ^\y&^'sx6L, Lieutenant ; Jep- 
thah Crane, Ensign. — Non-commissioned officers : William 
Shaller, George May, Joseph Tucker, John Dickerman, Jr., 
Russell J. Leonard, James Durick, James White, Ezekiel 


Francis Andrew, Elijah Bailey, David P. Bazin, Jarvis Bil- 
lings, Franklin Bisbee, Ebenezer Burrill, Abner Crane, Silas. 
Crane, Jr., Isaac Copeland, John Davenport, James Endicott, 
2d, Abel Farrington, Jr., Daniel Fuller, Isaiah Holmes, Jere- 
miah Kelly, Albert Kidder, Allen Kinsley, Thomas J. Knowles,. 
Jonathan Leonard, Jr., William Mansfield, Nathaniel May, 
Nathan Packard, George Shepard, Willard Shepard, Francis 
W. Tucker, Josiah Upham, Edwin Wentworth, Larra Went- 
worth, Lewis Whiting. 

James Durick, whose name appears as one of the non- 
commissioned officers above, was adopted by Mrs. Seth 
Strowbridge. Before the establishment of cotton factories. 


it was the custom to weave at home. Durick was early- 
taught to weave, and was of great assistance to Mrs. Strow- 
bridge in running her loom. He learned the art thoroughly, 
and when cotton factories were started, his services were in 
great demand to instruct operatives. He was successful in 
after-life, became a man of wealth, and was at one time 
Mayor of Buffalo. 

Some of the officers of the Crane Guards profited by the 
experience they obtained, and subsequently became distin- 
guished in the militia. Elisha Crane had been a lieutenant 
in the militia in 18 18, and was promoted to captain in 1821. 
His company was disbanded in February, 1822, when he 
joined the Crane Guards and was elected their first com- 
mander. He was the son of Elijah and Sarah (Houghton) 
Crane, and was born in the same gambrel-roofed house still 
standing at Ponkapoag, in 1798, and died on the 6th of May, 
1839. He received his commission as captain, March 25, 
1822, and was discharged in 1824. 

Luke Shepard first appears in military life as sergeant in 
the Second Regiment, Second Brigade, Sept. 11, 1818. He 
was promoted to ensign, June 13, 1821, and lieutenant, 
Dec. 13, 1822. In 1824, on the, 24th of May, promoted 
to captain, on December 13 to major, and about a year 
afterward, Dec. 26, 1825, to lieutenant-colonel, he was hon- 
orably discharged April 20, 1827, and was succeeded by 
Harvey Nash, who appears to have risen from ensign in 
1826 to the colonelcy in 1827. Luke was the son of Thomas, 
who bought the Pierce house in 1799; the former purchased 
land of Nathaniel Wentworth, and erected the house in which 
he lived in 1823. He died July 10, 1873, aged seventy-six 
years. Jepthah Crane was a lieutenant in 1824, commissioned 
a captain, April 5, 1825, and became major, Dec. 18, 1825, 
colonel in May, 1827. He was the son of Luther and 
Angelet (Pierce) Crane, and was born Aug. 4, 1794; he 
married, June, 10, 1824, Clara (Crane), and died Feb. 17, 

One who was a prominent man in Canton, William Shaller, 
had been a lieutenant in the regular militia in August, 1821 ; he 


was lieutenant of the Crane Guards, April 5, 1825, and chosen 
captain, April 29, 1826. This gentleman, so well and honor- 
ably known, was born Sept. 19, 1795, on the hill at PonkapOag 
in a house now torn down, which stood nearly on the site of 
the house which belonged to Elisha Horton, and since burned ; 
it was occupied at that time by his father, Michael, and Rachel 
(Blackman), his mother. The house was built about 1735, by 
Samuel Strowbridge. 

Capt. WiUiam Shaller purchased, May 27, 1827, the house 
built by Samuel Billings in 1809, on Green Lodge Street, and 
resided in it until 1882. 

On Oct. 2, 1824, a grand muster was held at Canton 
Corner. Captains McKendry and Luke Shepard were in 
command of the Canton companies. It was a day well 
remembered by those now living. The manoeuvres took 
place on the land opposite the Canton meeting-house. A 
company of boys, of about twelve years of age, in full uni- 
form, attracted no little attention. Crowds came from the 
surrounding towns. 

Stoughton was also represented by a militia company, 
called by their rivals, the " Cow Yards," — probably the 
Ancient Grenadiers, who first appeared in uniform, Sept. 16, 
1822, and according to a recent writer were men of uncom- 
mon size, averaging more than six feet, of fine physique, 
and who were accustomed to carry off the prize from many 
a muster-field for neatness and precision of drill. 

In 1829 the muster was held at Canton Corner. Col. 
Harvey Nash was the colonel, and after the review the 
officers dined at Everett's. 

Jarvis Gay was commissioned as major in September, 
1826, promoted to lieutenant-colonel, Feb. 13, 1827, and on 
the 22d of June following was a full colonel. 

John Endicott, the son of James and Betsey (Crane), who 
w^s born in Canton, Jan. 21, 1807, and died Jan. 28, 1855, 
was the commander of a company during the years 1832-35. 
He was a prominent man, holding the office of selectman for 
some thirteen years; also a representative to the General 



James H. Everett was the captain of a company in 1833. 

William H. Peterson was the captain of a company in the 
Third Regiment; he was commissioned May 3, 1836, dis- 
charged May, 1839. He resided at Ponkapoag, where he 
died, Aug. 9, 1882, aged seventy-four years. 

Samuel Blackman was elected captain in 1839, but never 
called the company together ; and soon after the militia 
were disbanded. 

The Union Light Guard was organized on Dec. 3, 1852, 
and with a company from Easton formed a battalion of 
which Charles H. French, of Canton, was major. In 1856 
this company was incorporated, with companies in the towns 
of Abington, Braintree, Easton, Hingham, Norton, and 
Quincy, into the Fourth Regiment, Second Brigade, First 
Division of Massachusetts Militia. The Canton company 
was designated as Company A,^ and Col. Charles Howe 
French was in command of the regiment. The year fol- 
lowing Colonel French was honorably discharged, and Abner 
B. Packard was elected to the vacant position. Frank M. 
Ames was at this time elected major. 

The first captain was Charles F. Cushman. James T. 
Sumner was the second captain. He was born in Canton, 
Feb. 10, 1820, and died Sept. 8, 1884. He came from good 
old New England stock. His ancestor, William, was one of 
the selectmen in Dorchester in 1637 ; his great-grandfather, 
Nathaniel, was a graduate of Harvard in 1739, subsequently 
selectman, and representative to the General Court from 
Dedham. His grandfather was a soldier in the Revolution. 
His father, whose name was Nathaniel, will be remembered 
by many who read these lines as a resident of Canton Corner 
until March 20, 1853 ; he was born at Dedham, Dec. 4, 1787. 
He married Nancy, daughter of James and Jemima Turner, 
May, 1816. James married, May 18, 1843, Sarah Everett, 
daughter of John and Ruth (McKendry) Gerald. Mr. Sum- 
ner was possessed of a vast amount of information. In regard 
to Canton's past his memory was wonderful. He remembered 
well the folk-lore he heard when a boy ; and he was always 
1 See Appendix XIX. 



referred to when a dispute arose as to a date, or a matter of 
genealogy, in regard to events in the history of this town. 
He was a man of good common-sense, famlHar with the value 
of real estate, of sound judgment, and a good heart. He 
had been chosen for many years selectman of Canton. He 
did the work assigned him, and sought not the office as a 
stepping-stone to something better. During the war he was 
active in furnishing soldiers, and nearly all the quota from 
Canton were enlisted by him, as chairman of the selectmen. 
John Hall was the third captain. He resigned in 1861, and 
was succeeded in command by First Lieutenant Ira F. Drake,, 
who went with the company into the nine months' service in 
the War of the Rebellion. 

CRANE guards' flag. 



THE chief sources of information to which we naturally 
turn are the records of the town meetings held dur- 
ing the struggle that gained for America her independence. 
From them we are enabled to trace the gradual course of 
events ; for to the people assembled in town meeting were 
referred all the important measures of the time, and the 
decisions and desires of the legal voters are mirrored on the 
old records. The original warrants are still preserved, as 
issued by the selectmen. Many of the original instructions 
to the agents or representatives of the town still exist. 
Ancient diaries have been exhumed from the recesses of old 
attics which throw much light on the daily life of Revolu- 
tionary days. Again, tradition has preserved to us many 
familiar and interesting events connected with the men who 
were active in that war. Thus we shall be able to follow 
the particular doings of our townsmen of this important 

On the 1 8th of March, 1766, the Stamp Act was re- 
pealed. A public thanksgiving was held in the old church 
on the 24th of July, Rev. Samuel Dunbar preaching from 
the text, "As the days wherein the Jews rested from their 
enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from 
sorrow to joy, and from mourning unto a good day, and that 
they should make them days of feasting and joy." 

On the 6th of October, 1766, an article was read at the 
town meeting, " to see if the town will give instructions to 
their representative respecting making good the damages 
that particular persons in the town of Boston sustained in 
the late disturbances in this Province respecting the Stamp 


Act. " At the annual meeting in May, Lieut. Hezekiah Gay 
received eighty-three votes, — six other candidates receiving 
only eighty in all, — and he was elected Representative to 
the General Court. At a later meeting he was instructed 
in regard to the late proceedings in Boston in the following 
language : — 

" In the first place, we would let you know that we abhor and de- 
test all mobs in general, and that none of us had any hand in that in 
particular, and we are of opinion that not one thousanth part of the 
Province in general, exclusive of the town of Boston, had any hand in 
them, directly or indirectly. We would recommend to you by no 
means to vote for recompense to be made by y° Province, as a point 
of justice ; for the Province, immediately after y'' violences were com- 
mitted, bore testimony against them, and used all proper proceedings 
to detect those that committed them, but to no effect. But the town 
are willing justice should be done, provided the people be not taxed 

This loyalty was to vanish before the continued oppressive 
acts of the British Parliament, as time wore on. In 1768 
Mr. Gay was again chosen to join with the several towns of 
the province at Faneuil Hall, on the 22d of September, at 
a convention there to be held to see what could be accom- 
plished for the good of the province, — the General Court 
having been dissolved by Governor Bernard. This conven- 
tion asserted its readiness to prevent tumults, and made 
professions of loyalty. The next day the soldiers from 
Halifax occupied their places in Faneuil Hall. 

On July 31, 1769, Governor Bernard, having failed to 
obtain grants from the House to support a standing army 
in the province, left his home at Jamaica Plain and em- 
barked from Castle William. Guns were fired from Mr. 
Hancock's wharf, and a bonfire started on Fort Hill. The 
news reached Canton the next day; the bell of the old 
church rang out a joyous peal, and Seth Billings was un- 
fortunately wounded in firing a salute. He died on the 
2d of August. 

The population of Stoughton at this time consisted of 
about 2,100 souls; 530 were of the age. of sixteen and up- 


wards. The number of polls was 504. The inhabitants 
were primitive in their manners, and their wants were few; 
the greater portion of them could not be called educated, 
save by the education that comes from innate sense and the 
varied experiences of life. They were accustomed in diffi- 
cult matters to look to a few men for advice and counsel, 
who by their superior natural abilities, or the advantages of 
early schooling, were acknowledged to be the leading men 
of the day. When an earnest desire for liberty swept over 
the land, it found in this town prominent men, whose influ- 
ence was wielded for the common good ; and the hearts of 
the people beat in unison with the pulse of the embryo 

The bleak winds of March were sweeping over the hills 
and along "Packeen plain," when in 1773, by order of his 
Majesty George III., the inhabitants of Stoughton congre- 
gated at the old meeting-house. It was town .meeting 
day, — a day on which from the earliest times plans were 
formed for the ensuing year. But on this day the minor 
matters connected with the election of town officers paled 
before the rumor that the selectmen of the town had re- 
ceived a letter from certain gentlemen in the town of Bos- 
ton, styling themselves a committee of correspondence, in 
which, in forcible language, they inform their friends in the 
country of the grievances the province was then laboring 
under. The letter having been read in open town meeting, 
our townspeople immediately replied to it in the following 
words : — 

To f Boston Commute of Correspondence : 

Honored Gentlemen, — Haveing had oppertunity to hear and 
consider your letter to us, for which we are obliged and thankful to 
you, We, according to our best understanding, think that our Rights 
as men, as Christians, and British Subjects are Rightly Stated by you, 
and in y" many instanceses produced have been Greatly infringed upon 
and violated by arbetrary Will and power, we esteem them heavy griv- 
anceses, and apprehensive that in future time they may prove fatal to 
us and oure posterity, as to all that is Dear to us, Reducing us not only 
to poverty, but Slavery, we Do humbly remonstrate against them, & con- 


cur with you and our Brethren in several towns of y^ Province, tho we 
cannot join with all y" towns, Nor with y' in every circumstance and 
perticular of your procedings. Yet we must concur with you and them 
in Bearing our Testimony against them, and in uniting in all constitu- 
tinal methods for Regaining those Rights and privileges that have been 
ravished from us, and for retaining those that yet Remain to us ; and 
accordingly, we advise & instruct our Representative to exerte himself 
for these ends ; and that as this province ever had, and ought to have, 
a right to petition the King for y" Redress of such greivances as they 
feel, and for preventing Such as they have just reason to apprehend 
and fear, that he move that an humble petition for these purposes be 
presented to his majesty. 

Hopeing for a divine Blessing upon all our Constitutional En- 
deavors for y' preservation and enjoyment of all our Natural and Con- 
stitutional Rights and priviledges, and professing our Loyalty to the 
King, and praying that he may Long set upon the Throne, and Rule 
in Righteousness, and that he may be a nursing father to us, his I^yal 
subjects, and that all his officers may be peace, and his Exactors 

We subscribe ourselves Your Distressed Brethren and oppressed 
fellow subjects. 

The moderator of this meeting and the man who read this 
letter was Joseph Billings. He was the son of that Joseph 
Billings who kept the old tavern in Milton, next beyond the 
residence of J. Huntington Wolcott, sometimes known as 
the Blue Hill Tavern, but oftener as Billings's tavern. 
His sons, Joseph, William, and John, removed to Canton. 
Joseph, the eldest, born June 17, 1709, was a prominent 
man in Canton affairs. He was for many years guardian of 
the Ponkapoag Indians, and says, "The Indians have eat and 
drank at my house more than five hundred times." We 
have seen a letter written by Parson Dunbar, speaking in 
the highest terms of his ability and character. Joseph Bil- 
lings's, niece, the daughter of Thomas and sister to Daniel 
Vose, records in her diary that her "Uncle Joseph died 
Jan. 13, 1789, aged eighty years." No stone confirms this 
record ; but his wife Anna, daughter of Col. John Holman, 
of Milton, is buried in the old cemetery, and her stone says 


she died Oct. 28, 1753, aged forty -five years. Samuel Bil- 
lings erected, in 1809, a new house on what is now known ■ 
as the Capt. William Shaller place, which he sold to Alex- 
ander French; and here, in 1814, his son, Charles Howe 
French, was born. From French it passed through two 
owners, and, May 2, 1827, was purchased by Capt. William 
Shaller, who resided on it. 

The spirit of loyalty was not yet fully grown. On the 
17th of June, 1774, the General Court had determined that 
"a committee should be appointed to meet as soon as 
may be the committees that are or shall be appointed by 
the several colonies on this continent to consult together 
upon the present state of the colonies." Money was pro- 
vided to pay their expenses ; but either on account of a veto 
from General Gage, or some other reason, they were left 
without funds. A confidential circular was addressed to 
each fown, asking for contributions. The matter came up 
in the afternoon of July 11, 1774, and was next in order 
after the choice of moderator; namely, — 

" To see if the Town will vote to pay £2. 1 7. 9. to y<= Hon''''' Tho" 
Cashing, of Boston, by -f 15* day of August next, to pay y' Committe 
of this Province chosen by our General Cort to meet y* Committes of 
the other Provinces." 

The town voted to dismiss the article. 

Another year rolled away, and an event was to occur 
which was to make the town of Canton prominent in the 
affairs of the province; for in that part of Stoughton now 
Canton was an ancient house in which was held the first 
meeting in the Province of Massachusetts Bay to oppose the 
tyranny of Great Britain. 

'The Doty tavern, where the delegates from the several 
towns and districts in Suffolk first met, and from which 
place they adjourned to meet at the house of Richard Wood- 
ward at Dedham, and finally to the mansion of Daniel Vose, 
of Milton, where the memorable " Suffolk Resolves " were 
passed, is still standing;^ but it is no longer in Suffolk 

1 The Doty tavern was destroyed by fire Dec. 19, 1888. — Eds. 


County nor in the town of Stoughton. The town of Can- 
ton claims it to-day, and the county of Norfolk is glad to 
give it a place among its ancient historical landmarks. 

The traveller, journeying from Milton toward Canton, 
passing between Little and Great Blue Hills, sees before 
him a level plain. He passes the modern Blue Hill Street, 
and the second house on his left will at once attract his 
attention by its singular and old-fashioned appearance. It 
stands a short distance back from the street. It strikes 
one as a house that has a history ; its quaint gambrel roof, 
through which rise two chimneys of huge proportions, car- 
ries one back to times long past, and we would fain listen 
to the stories it might tell could it speak. 

It was built in early days. A marquis has slept beneath 
its roof; a general has planned within its walls the free- 
dom of a nation; and a destined President of the United 
States, John Adams, has baited his horse there. Major 
John Shepard built the old house, and he was a notable 
man in this part of Suffolk when it was new. 

At the period of the Revolution the house, which had 
been kept as a tavern in 1726 by Major John Shepard, was 
celebrated for its good cheer. Here could be found en- 
tertainment for man and beast. The proprietor was jovial 
Tom Doty, known among more quiet and sedate persons 
as Col. Thomas Doty. He it was who kept the best viands 
and could mix the best glass of grog of any landlord in 
all the country around. There was no stage-driver so 
ignorant as not to know where Doty's tavern was. His 
inn was the centre of gossip; around his capacious hearth 
were wont to congregate on winter evenings the village 
wiseacres, to discuss over pipe and bowl questions per- 
taining to town and province. John Adams tells us that 
there were many such taverns in his day; that he knew, 
will appear from the following extract from his diary : — 

"Monday, Aug. 14, 1769. Dined with three hundred and fifty 
Sons of Liberty at Robinson's, the sign of Liberty Tree in Dorchester. 
There was a large collection of good company. To the honor of the 
company, I did not see one person intoxicated or near it. 




















" Between four and five o'clock the carriages were all got ready, 
and the company rode off in procession, — Mr. Hancock first in his 
chariot, and another chariot bringing up the rear. I took my leave 
of the gentlemen, and turned off for Taunton. Gated at Doty's, and 
arrived long after dark at Noice's ; there I put up." 

Col. Thomas Doty was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth 
(Harlow) Doty. He was of the fifth generation from Ed- 
ward, who was a passenger in the "Mayflower;" the blood 
of the Puritans flowed in his veins, and he was born near 
Plymouth Rock. His military career opened in 1755, when 
we find him as a lieutenant in Nathaniel Thomas's company. 
Later in the same year he was promoted to a captaincy and 
assigned to the Tenth Company in the Ninth Massachusetts 
Regiment. He was a friend and companion of Richard 
Gridley; and when, in 1756, Doty was appointed lieutenant- 
colonel in Thacher's regiment, these men sat together on 
many a court-martial during the hot days of summer. In 
October of the same year, Doty was placed in charge of two 
sloops on Lake George, and ordered by General Winslow 
to annoy and, if possible, destroy the enemy. On March 28, 
1758, the sum of ;£'2,ooo was allowed him by the gov- 
ernment, to pay the bounties of such men as should en- 
list in the expedition against Canada. The same year 
he became a full colonel, and was in command of a regi- 
ment forming a part of the third division of Abercrombie's 
army that marched during the summer to attack Fort Ticon- 
deroga. In July his regiment, being at Half-Moon, were 
so affronted by the remarks of a captain in the regular 
service — one Crookshank — that a large number, more than 
half the regiment, deserted. The matter was brought be- 
fore the Governor and Council, and the Hon. Thomas Hutch- 
inson, Esq. , was ordered to take measures to apprehend the 

In August his troops under Bradstreet, at one of the 
darkest periods of the French and Indian War, crossed 
Lake Ontario and captured Fort Frontenac, — a formidable 
stronghold of the French which commanded the outlet to 


the lake. The war at an end, Doty was for a short time 
in business at Plymouth and Middleboro'. In 1760 he kept 
the Lamb tavern in Boston, and in 1764 removed to Can- 
ton and was soon honored by the position of moderator of 
the town' meeting. In 1768 he was a deer-reeve. He built 
a house at the corner of Washington and Blue Hill streets, 
in which he probably died. His body and that of his wife, 
Abigail (Williams), lie buried in the Canton Cemetery, and 
the inscriptions show that "Coll Thomas Doty, Esq., died 
March 23, 179S, in y'= 92* year of his age." His wife died 
Nov. 7, 1791, aged seventy-five. By his will, made Nov. 8, 
1794, he gave one third of his estate to the poor of the First 
Church of Christ, now known as the First Congregational 

Doty was a man of some pretensions to political knowl- 
edge ; certain it is that he was known at the time of which 
we write to be highly indignant at the treatment the pro- 
vinces had lately received from the mother country; and he 
favored the embryonic movement soon to burst into open 
rebellion. The time had come when the men of the Pro- 
vince of Massachusetts Bay had become enraged at the 
blind policy of George III. and his Parliament; bold patri- 
ots resolved that throughout the thirteen provinces " Con- 
gresses " (so called in order to obviate the provisions of the 
Regulation Act, which forbade town meetings except by 
permission of the Governor) should be held in the several 
counties, and in this matter Suffolk County took the lead. 
After it was decided to hold such a Congress, the grave 
question which presented itself to the patriots of Suffolk 
County was, "Where shall we hold it, and at what town 
shall it convene?" In the first place, the spot should be 
central yet retired. Neither Boston nor Salem possessed 
these requisites; and Samuel Adams, who expected the 
gravest results from this assembly, strenuously desired that 
some inland town should be selected, where the Congress 
might meet, free from interference. This desire was com- 
municated to Dr., afterward Major-Gen., Joseph Warren, 
and it was agreed that a Congress should be held as soon as 


practicable; and the town of Stoughton being by its geo- 
graphical position central, and Doty's tavern of good re- 
pute, it was decided that the meeting should take place at 
the town and tavern aforesaid. 

On the morning of Tuesday, the i6th of August, 1774, 
all was hurry and bustle at Doty tavern. From the farm- 
house over the way, which, built in the time of the Indian 
wars, had for protection its second story projecting over 
the first. Squire William Royall sent his slaves to assist 
the slaves of Colonel Doty in making preparation for the 
distinguished guests. Little did those poor Africans im- 
agine, as they cheerfully fulfilled their masters' orders on 
that summer morning, that this meeting which would result 
in bringing emancipation from the tyranny of Great Britain 
to their masters, would necessitate, at the adoption of the 
new Constitution in 1780, their being driven by whips into 
wagons at midnight, chained one to another, and carried 
from their old home in Massachusetts to be sold into per- 
petual bondage at Barbadoes. 

Early in the forenoon the delegates began to arrive. The 
members from the inland towns came on horseback, while 
young Dr. Warren, with his Boston friends, drove up in a 
stylish berlin drawn by four horses, with a coachman in 
livery on the box and footman on the rumble. From old 
Stoughton came Parson Dunbar in gown and bands, — a 
stout old soldier he, for things temporal as well as spiritual. 
He had fought when his Majesty needed help against the 
French; but the oppressive acts of the British Parliament 
had forfeited all claims upon his loyalty, and he came, 
against the advice of many of his friends, his relatives, 
and his own son, who held a civil office under the Crown, 
to meet with the County Congress at Doty's tavern. When 
he arrived, and the meeting was organized, he was asked to 
pray. The prayer has unfortunately not been preserved; 
but one who was present said of it that " It was the most 
extraordinary liberty-prayer that I ever heard ; he appeared 
to have a most divine, if not prophetical, enthusiasm in 
favor of our rights." 


Before this Congress adjourned, the following resolutions 
were passed: — 

" Whereas, It appears to us that the Parliament of Great Britain, to 
the Dishonor of the king, in Violation of the faith of the Nation, Have, 
in Direct Infraction of the Charter of this Province, Contrary to Magna 
Charta, the Bill of Rights, the National & Constitutional claims of 
British subjects, by an act Called the Boston Port Bill, a Bill for 
Amending the Charter of this Province, and another Bill for the Im- 
partial administration of Justice, with all the Parade and administration 
of law and justice, attempted to Reduce this Colony to an unparal- 
leled State of Slavery ; and, 

" Whereas, the Several Colonies Being Justley and Properly alarmed 
with this Lawless and Tyranical Exertion of Power, Has Entered into 
Combination for our Relief, and have Published Sundry Resolutions 
which they are Determined to abide by, in support of Common Inter- 
est, We Earnestly Recommend to our Brethren in the Several Towns 
and Districts in this County, to appoint Members for to attend a 
county convention for Suffolk at the house of Mr. Woodward, Inn- 
holder in Dedham, on Tuesday, the sixth day of September next, at 
ten o'clock before noon, to Deliberate and Determine upon all Such 
Matters as the Distressed Circumstances of this Province may require." 

It would appear that although all present at Doty's tav- 
ern were unanimous and firm and determined to resist the 
encroachments of Great Britain, the delegates did not deem 
themselves especially authorized to negotiate the affairs of 
a County Congress. They therefore adjourned, and at a 
subsequent meeting passed the celebrated "Suffolk Re- 
solves," which, drafted by General Warren, and carried to 
Philadelphia by Paul Revere, were approved by the Conti- 
nental Congress at Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, on the 
17th of September, 1774, and which, in the words of Gal- 
loway, "contained a complete declaration of war against 
Great Britain." 

During the siege of Boston the old tavern was occupied 
by refugees, and one of the exiled town officers sought its 
secure retreat. 

Beneath the roof of the Doty tavern the Marquis de 
Lafayette, on his first visit to America, rested while jour- 


neying from Taunton to Boston; it was during the war, 
and the news spread quickly that the gallant Frenchman 
was a guest at the old inn. In the morning, when he had 
paid his reckoning and was ready to depart, he found the 
townspeople gathered in the road before him, who with 
cheers and good wishes bade him Godspeed. 

The County Congress met according to adjournment at the 
tavern of Mr. Richard Woodward at Dedham, which was 
situated directly opposite the present Court-House, on the 
6th of September, 1774. In the mean time a warrant had 
been issued in Stoughton for a town meeting, the second 
article of which was : — 

" To see if the town will choose a committee of correspondence, 
to correspond with the other committees in this Province, and to 
meet the committees of the other towns in this County at Mr. Rich- 
ard Woodward's, innholder in Dedham, on the sixth day of September 
next, at two o'clock in the [forenoon], and so from time to time as 
they shall think proper, until our annual meeting next March." 

The town had voted on the 29th of August that a committee 
be chosen to represent the town at the meeting at Dedham, 
and that they have full power to act and do anything in 
county convention, as may appear of public utility in a 
time of public and general distress. This committee con- 
sisted of John Withington, Theophilus Curtis, John Ken- 
ney, Jedediah Southworth, and Josiah Pratt. 

John Withington, Jr., as he was called until the death of 
his father, but more commonly known as "Judge," was the 
son of John and Elizabeth Withington, and was born March 
7, 1717, and died Jan. 16, 1798. For his first wife he mar- 
ried, Jan. 22, 1746, Martha, daughter of John and Elizabeth 
(Bailey) Wentworth, and for his second, Dec. 19, 1751, 
Desire, daughter of Philip, Jr., and Desire Liscom. He 
probably removed from Stoughton to Boston, where he re- 
sided some years. About 1760, Withington's Corner is 
mentioned; later he appears as one of the committee to 
audit the accounts of the Canton Precinct. The next year 
he joined the church. In 1760 he is described as trader. 


and buys the right of the heirs of Deacon Joseph Tucker in 
an old saw-mill and the stream and landing-place which 
belonged to Tucker. This property appears to be in his 
possession on the map of 1785. In 1764 he owned a female 
slave named Violet; she died in June of the following year, 
— "a very terrible time," says a diarist. In 1764 he was a 
lieutenant in the militia, and in 1769 promoted to captain. 
He served the town as its treasurer in 1766. He was a 
delegate to the Second Provincial Congress at Cambridge, 
and to the Convention at Dedham, in 1775, one of the Com- 
mittee of Correspondence, and actively engaged in the affairs 
of the town during the war. He purchased, in 1761, from 
David Tilden, the estate on the southwest corner of Pleas- 
ant and Washington streets, on which stood an old house 
which he removed to Dedham road, where it was a part 
of the house known to many as the Leeds house, because 
Nathaniel Leeds, who came to Canton in 1805, li\'ed in it. 
He erected the house now standing, owned and occupied by 
George J. Leonard. This house was probably built about 
1762, and remodelled by Dr. Stone in 1827. Mr. With- 
ington appears to have been a trader, and not only sold 
groceries, dry -and wet goods, but carted posts, planks, 
barrel-hoops, and knees for ships, to Boston or Milton 
Landing. In 1785 he boarded the candidates who preached 
at the Corner. In 1786 he provided the entertainment for 
the Council that ordained Mr. Howard. One hundred and 
twenty-four persons sat at the tables. 

Capt. Josiah Pratt was from Foxboro'. He commanded 
one of the companies of minute-men in 1775, was a member 
of the Committee of Correspondence in 1776, and was sub- 
sequently for many years selectman at Foxboro'. 

The committee, consisting of Withington, Kenney, Cur- 
tis, and Pratt, were desired to endeavor to obtain a county 
indemnification for such persons as might suffer, by fine or 
otherwise, from a non-compliance with the recent arbitrary 
acts of the British Parliament. The delegates from Stough- 
ton attended the meeting at Dedham, and it was decided to 
adjourn this County Congress until the 9th of September, 


the delegates to meet at the house of Daniel Vose in Mil- 
ton. At this meeting were passed the celebrated " Suffolk 
Resolves." The house where the resolutions were passed 
is still standing in Milton, next north of the railroad sta- 
tion at the Lower Mills, and can be distinguished by a 
marble tablet, recording the fact that in that "mansion 
on the 9th of September, 1774, were passed the Suffolk 
Resolves. " 

To attend this meeting, the town of Stoughton sent 
Thomas Crane, at this period of our history one of its 
most energetic and influential citizens. He was the son of 
Deacon Silas and Experience (Tolman) Crane, and was born 
in Milton, Jan. 6, 1726—27. He was the great-grandson of 
Henry, of Dorchester, the immigrant ancestor. His parents 
died within a day or two of each other and were buried in 
the Canton Cemetery in June, 1753. Thomas came to Can- 
ton in 1748, and the following year married Mary Fenno. 
At one period of his life, about 1763, he resided at Ponka- 
poag. He was a justice of the peace and quorum, and a 
major in the militia. He was a delegate to the Second 
Provincial Congress at Cambridge held in February, and at 
Watertown in July, 1775. 

He was selectman for many years, and served as Repre- 
sentative to the General Court during five of the most try- 
ing years of the war. He was actively engaged in hiring 
men and procuring money during the Revolution. He en- 
gaged the soldiers, saw them mustered into the service, and 
paid them their bounties. As will hereafter appear, he was 
selected by the government as the proper person to take 
charge of the powder-mills, and was ever active and vigilant 
in the patriot cause. When the demands of the mill upon 
his time were not imperative, it was his custom to go about 
from house to house soliciting clothing and money for the 
families of the Continental soldiers. His manner is said 
to have been so impressive, and his persistency so great, 
that many who had never been known to give a penny for 
the good cause, deposited with him their contributions. It 
is related that in his enthusiasm the tears rolled down his 


cheeks and spattered on the contribution-paper like rain. 
A favorite remark of his when soliciting subscriptions was, 
"My friend, the child Independence is about to be born; 
be liberal and give him an easy delivery. " He continued 
to reside in Canton until 1774, when he removed to Stough- 
ton, where he owned a large tract of land between Belcher's 
Corner and West Stoughton. He left there, and was resid- 
ing in 1787 at the house now owned by J. Huntington Wol- 
cott in Milton. Here he died on the 7th of October, 1804. 

On the 7th of October, 1774, the Great and General 
Court was convened at Salem, and the citizens of Stough- 
ton, with those of the District of Stoughtonham, decided 
that Thomas Crane was the man to represent them; and 
they voted him certain written instructions. He was ad- 
monished to adhere firmly to the charter of the province 
which had been granted by their Majesties William and 
Mary, and under no consideration to acknowledge the valid- 
ity of any Act of the British Parliament tending to alter the 
government of Massachusetts Bay; at the same time his 
constituents did not disguise the fear that in their opinion a 
conscientious discharge of duty would cause a dissolution of 
the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, should such 
an emergency arise, their representative was instructed to 
join the other towns in the province for a General Provin- 
cial Congress, and do those things which were requisite and 
necessary to conduce to the true interests of the town and 
province, and take such measures as should be most likely 
to preserve unimpaired the liberties of all North America. 

It was at a session of this body held at Cambridge, Wednes- 
day, Oct. 26, 1774, that the committee that had been pre- 
viously appointed to consider what was necessary to be done 
for the defence and safety of the government, reported a 
resolution that the field officers forthwith endeavor to enlist 
one quarter at least of the number of the respective com- 
panies, and form them into companies of fifty privates, 
who shall equip and hold themselves in readiness, on the 
shortest notice from the Committee of Safety, to march to 
the place of rendezvous ; and that each and every company so 


formed choose a captain and two lieutenants to command 
them on any necessary and emergent service, and that the 
officers form the companies into battalions to consist of nine 
companies each. Within a month from the time of the publi- 
cation of these resolutions, these companies were designated 
as minute-men. 

On the 17th of November, 1774, the citizens of Canton 
Corner, then called "Old Stoughton," beheld for the last 
time the conjoined crosses of Saint George and Saint An- 
drew on a blue canton, floating on the. breeze. The ancient 
national flag of the mother country, that had sustained on 
many a hard-fought field the honor of old England, and 
which from infancy they had been taught to honor and 
respect, was furled, never again to be regarded as an object 
of love and veneration. On the open field near the old 
meeting-house his Majesty's troops were drawn up in line; 
one by one the officers surrendered their commissions and 
immediately re-enlisted under the new government " of the 
people, by the people, and for the people." 

And now the year 1775 opens, — a year fraught with in- 
tense interest. This was the last year that the town war- 
rants were to have the old heading that had for so many 
years greeted the eyes of loyal citizens. They were no 
longer summoned to convene "In His Majesty's name," 
and the warrants no longer ended, " In the fifteenth year of 
His Majesty's reign," but instead, we read in 1776, "In the 
name of the Government and People of y' Massachusetts 
State;" in 1782, "In the name of the Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts,'-' and ending "In the sixth year of the Inde- 
pendent States of America. " 

On Feb. i, 1775, the Second Provincial Congress was 
held at Cambridge, and on the 9th of January, the town of 
Stoughton made choice of Thomas Crane to represent them 
in that body. During the same month, on the i6th, it was 
voted to send " all of our Province money to Henry Gardner, 
Esq. , of Stow. " This was in conformity to a recommenda- 
tion of the Provincial Congress, and the money was there- 
fore sent to him in preference to Harrison Gray, Esq., the 


royal treasurer; the town agreed to indemnify the consta- 
bles for not carrying the money to Gray. The resolves 
adopted by the Continental Congress were heartily ratified 
at this meeting, and it was voted to choose a committee who 
should use their interest that " the Resolves and the asso- 
ciations of the Continental Congress should be closely 
adhered to." This committee was called a committee of 
inspection, and consisted of nineteen persons, as follows: 
John Withington, John Kenney, Adam Blackman, James 
Endicott, Jeremiah Ingraham, Abner Crane, Peter Talbot, 
Jonathan Capen, Robert Capen, Jedediah Southworth, Sam- 
uel Shepard, David Vinton, Theophilus Curtis, Josiah Pratt, 
Eleazer Robbins, Samuel Tucker, Benjamin Gill, Robert 
Swan, and Peter Gay. 

The Committee of Inspection or Correspondence was 
vigilant and energetic. Four persons, acting under its 
orders, stopped a load of iron passing through the town. 
It belonged to John McWorther, of Taunton, who immedi- 
ately brought an action against the committee. The fol- 
lowing was the expense attending the defence of the suit : 

Lieut. J. Withington ^13 i8 o 

Samuel Tuclcer ... 900 

Peter Talbot 9 lo o 

Jonathan Capen 13 8 o 

Adam Blackman 600 

Peter Gay 600 

Samuel Shepard . . < 11 80 

Robert Swan 900 

Abner Crane 13 o o 

Benjamin Gill . . '. 47 i 6 

John Kenney 24 o 6 

James Endicott 7 16 o 

.£170 2 o 

The town reimbursed the above-named parties. An arti- 
cle was inserted in the warrant : " To see if the town will 
take any measures to encourage the raising and instructing 
of a number of minute-men as recommended by the Provin- 
cial Congress. " It was deemed inexpedient by the town to 


take any action in this matter, but to postpone until later 
the raising of men who might be called upon at a "min- 
ute's" notice to march against the enemy; nevertheless, 
the young men of the town voluntarily devoted themselves 
to the manual-at-arms, and were in the habit of meeting for 
purposes of drill, officered by men selected by themselves. 
When the time arrived to which the decision of this matter 
had been postponed, March 6, 1775, it was voted to raise 
one quarter of the militia as minute-men, as had been ad- 
vised by the Provincial Congress. One shilling was the 
sum each man was to receive for one day's training, the 
training to be on two half-days of each week, and the mat- 
ter of raising the men was left to the field officers and the 
selectmen. Nor were proper and efficient drill-masters 
wanting. The yoUng men of Stoughton were instructed 
by Robert Swan, Samuel Capen, and Nathaniel Wales; the 
young men of Sharon by Samuel Billings, Eleazer Robbins, 
Josiah Pratt, and Benjamin Rhodes ; and the young men of 
what is now Canton by Benjamin Gill, John Davenport, 
and Asahel Smith, all of whom had held commissions under 
the old regime in the Third Massachusetts Regiment, of 
which Nathaniel Hatch had been colonel. 




THE first notice that the people of ancient Stoughton re- 
ceived that hostihties had actually begun between the 
king's troops and the patriots, was on the afternoon of the 
19th of April, 1775. It was lecture-day, and Parson Dunbar 
was exhorting his people and preparing them for the next 
Sunday's service, when suddenly the door was thrown open 
and Henry Bailey marched up the broad aisle and said there 
was a'larum. In an instant, all was confusion. A small boy, 
Lemuel Bent, seized the bell-rope, and soon the jangle 
reached the ears of the neighboring farmers. Israel Bailey 
conversed for a moment with Capt. James Endicott, and then 
the captain said, " Take my colt that is fastened outside, ride 
through the town, and warn the company to meet at May's 
tavern with arms and ammunition ready to march toward 
Boston at a moment's notice." Captain Endicott returned to 
his home, obtained his accoutrements, and started down the 
road toward Boston, leaving his company to follow as soon 
as they could be collected. 

And so from the towns which composed ancient Stough- 
ton,^ stalwart men, with sturdy sons, left their homes at the 
sharp clang of the alarm-bell, or the hurried words of the 
orderly, " To arms ! To arms ! The war has begun," and 
hastened to the rallying-place. These minute-men marched 
directly to the coast, and their fellow-townsmen followed them 
with provisions and supplies. Abel Puffer, Roger, John, and 
Isaac Billings, Ebenezer and William Shaller, Abner Crane, 
Jonathan Kenney, Israel Bailey, and Lemuel Davenport did 
all they could to make them comfortable. 
' See Appendix XX. 


James Endicott, captain of one of the companies that 
marched from Stoughton at the first alarm, was born in 
Stoughton in 1739, and died in Canton, April 4, 1799. He 
was the son of James and grandson of Gilbert Endicott, one of 
the first settlers. March 5, 1761, he was married by Rev. 
Samuel Dunbar to Abigail Puffer. During the war. Captain 
Endicott was several times called into active service ; on the 
afternoon of the 4th of March, i T]6, he went to the assistance of 
the Continental troops when they fortified Dorchester Heights. 
They made a lodgement on the ground unmolested, but were 
drenched with a most dreadful storm of rain. Endicott led 
his company to Ticonderoga, and in 1778 was again in the 
service at Roxbury, nor were his patriotic services confined 
to the field only. In 1778 he made frequent journeys to 
Boston to enlist and muster soldiers into the Continental 
army. By order of the town, he employed Hannah Endicott 
to weave thirty-seven yards of blanketing and to spin thirty- 
two skeins of yarn. Mrs. Lemuel Stone, Mary Goodwin, 
and Mrs. Deborah Patrick were also employed in making 
the soldiers comfortable. In 1780 Mr. Endicott was chosen 
Representative to the General Court, but refused to serve, 
although he accepted the trust during the years 1784, 1785, 
1786, and 1790. He served the town as its treasurer two 
years before his death. From ancient documents in the 
possession of his descendants, it would appear that he was 
commissioned by John Hancock, Feb. 11, 1785, as justice of 
the peace for the county of Suffolk, and on Sept. 24, 1793, 
as one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas for the 
county of Norfolk. He was a very prominent man in town 
affairs, and was universally respected. He occupied a house 
which formerly stood on the spot where the Endicott home- 
stead now stands, but which was destroyed by fire, Oct. 
29, 1806. 

When the captain, afterward known as Judge Endicott, 
left his home to join his company at the time of the Lexing- 
ton alarm, his son John — born Feb. 4, 1764, died Jan. 31, 1857 
— was in his twelfth year. The following day, this lad started 
with a supply of food for the support of the company, all the 


able-bodied men being in service. In time, he reached Rox- 
bury with his load of provisions ; meanwhile his father had 
been ordered in the direction of Cambridge. Not discour- 
aged, the lad proceeded after him, and delivered the pro- 
visions at the encampment at Prospect Hill. So successful 
was this enterprise that in after years, during the continuance 
of the war, he was sent on expeditions to a greater distance, — 
to Hartford and Norwich in Connecticut, and other places. 
In the winter of 1780, when John Endicott was only six- 
teen, the roads being obstructed by snow and the cold 
intense, he started for Boston with an ox-team loaded with 
wood, and entering on the Neponset, which was hard frozen, 
at Milton Mills, he followed the course of the stream down, 
and crossing over the harbor near William Castle, now Fort 
Independence, entered the town near the point where 
Craigie's Bridge was afterward erected. Discharging his 
wood, he thence crossed over to Cambridge and took a load 
of damaged gunpowder, which he was to carry to Canton, to 
be worked over at the powder-mill then in operation here. 
On his return over the Neck, such was the condition of the 
road that he repeatedly overset, — four times, he said, — 
and was obliged to re-load. He reached Roxbury near mid- 
night, where he stayed until next morning. 

On the opposite side of the street from the May tavern, 
in the house built by John Withington, Jr. lived one Arm- 
strong, a tailor, who had recently taken an apprentice, named 
Henry Perley, to learn the .trade. The young man came 
from Boxford, and was a steady and industrious youth. 
As he beheld from the shop-window the uniforms and bris- 
tling guns of the patriots, a desire seized him to go with 
them; and business being dull, with no prospect of im- 
provement, his master consented, whereupon the young 
hero, approaching the officer in command, said to him, " If 
you will get me a gun, I will go with you." The supply 
of guns being limited, the officer was not able to furnish 
him with one like those carried by the soldiers, but gave 
him what was called an " Indian gun." Perley made prepa- 
ration and started with two companions toward Boston, the 


company being an hour in advance. On the way down, they 
met a gentleman in citizen's dress, riding a beautiful horse, 
and followed by a servant, also well-mounted. No sooner 
had this gentleman passed our three friends than one of 
them said to the others, " That was a British officer." Simul- 
taneously they turned, followed, and overtook him, and 
ordered him to dismount and surrender. The officer in- 
quired in forcible language: "Who in h — 1 are you, ban- 
ditti?" " We '11 let you know who in h — 1 we are," said the 
recent apprentice, and forthwith began to pull the officer 
from his horse. The servant, seeing this, immediately drew 
his pistol from his holster, and was in the act of cocking it, 
when a well-directed blow from the butt-end of Benjamin 
Bussey's queen's-arm sent him sprawling on the ground. 
Deeming discretion the better part of valor, the young 
Englishman gracefully surrendered, and the twain were 
escorted to Boston in triumph, — Bussey on the officer's 
horse, Dickerman on the servant's, while Perley, with the 
Indian gun, marched as rear-guard. The arrival of the 
prisoners created a sensation among the troops encamped in 
the vicinity of Boston, and praise was showered upon the 
three raw recruits. 

Henry Perley was soon lost sight of. He served faithfully 
throughout the war, and that was all that was known of him. 
About the year 1825, a stranger entered the village store 
at Canton Corner. His form was bent, and his hair silvered 
by the snows of many winters. Around the stove were 
gathered, as was usual fifty or sixty years ago, all the men in 
the neighborhood, — some smoking, some drinking, and some 
talking of the crops, the state of the farms, the political 
situation, and such topics as Vvere in vogue before the daily 
newspaper entered every household. After looking around 
for a moment, the venerable stranger approached Joseph 
Downes and said to him, " I have lived down in Maine almost 
all my life, and I am getting to be a very old man ; but I thought 
before I died I would like to return and see some of my old 
comrades that were with me in the army, and so I have come 
back to Canton to see them. Where is Jim Fadden?" 


" Oh ! " said Mr. Downes, " he died forty years ago." " And 
where is Bill Currill? " " Oh, he has been dead over twenty 
years.'' And so the old man went on enumerating the names 
of those who, half a century before, had assembled with him, 
to fight for liberty ; but of all the early companions whose 
names he could remember, not one was left. Death had 
ushered them into the hereafter, and this weary old man now 
stood alone upon its threshold. He was turning sadly awayj 
when one of the idlers suggested that he might know Elijah 
Crane. " Yes, yes," said the veteran with enthusiasm, " take 
me to him ! " The next morning he was taken into the pres- 
ence of the general. " Do you know me ? " said the stranger. 
" You are Henry Perley," replied the general. " Thank 
God ! " said Perley, while the tears trickled down his cheeks ; 
" I am paid for coming." 

Benjamin Bussey, one of the young men mentioned in con- 
nection with the exploit of Henry Perley, was in due time to 
be remembered as one of the most distinguished philan- 
thropists of his time. 

William Bussey, the first of the name, was an early immi- 
grant. Here he found his sweetheart in the person of Olive 
Jordan, and on the 6th of June, 1728, they were married. 
We hear no more of him for some years ; he probably fol- 
lowed the sea. He conveyed land near the present Turnpike 
in 1731. In 1756 he built the little house now standing near 
Reservoir Pond, which he sold to Dr. Crosman in 1763. His 
son, Benjamin Bussey, born in 1734, bought twenty acres of 
a farm at Ponkapoag, originally owned by Elias Monk, but at 
that time unoccupied, its owner, Shubael Wentworth, having 
died in 1759. Bussey received the deed from Philip Liscom, 
Jr., in 1760. He also bought at the same time one acre from 
Eleanor Shippy adjoining his Wentworth land, " with an old 
dwelling-house upon it." This was the rear part of the house 
that was burned, Nov. 5, 1882. Deacon Samuel Andrews 
built it in 171 1. 

Benjamin Bussey, the rich Boston merchant, was not born 
in this house, but here he spent his early life, from the age 
of three to that of nineteen, when with his knapsack on 


his back, he stood on the step and bade good-by to the 
mother he was never to see again. While he was fighting 
for his country, the cold form of the loved one was borne 
by tender hands through the narrow doorway, a victim to 
that scourge of those days, the small-pox. To this house, in 
the days of his wonderful prosperity, Bussey returned. It 
was old, low-studded, and forlorn, but he did not want it 

In 1802 Benjamin Bussey repaired the old house and placed 
in front of it an addition more in keeping with the archi- 
tecture of the new century. The rooms were high-studded, 
which was then the fashion ; the stairs ran at angles, with land- 
ings, through an ample hall. The woodwork was ornamented, 
and sufficient room provided for a small family. The front 
door was protected by a wooden canopy with iron supports, 
curiously wrought. Trees were planted ; side fences that came 
down from the corners of the house to the front fence were 
built; and here was laid out a "front yard," the pride of the 
farmers' wives, planted with bouncing Bet, London pride, 
peonies, and old-fashioned roses. Then, good son that he 
was, he gave the house to his father and his father's wife, 
that they might enjoy the remainder of their lives with no 
fear lest the wolf should come to the door. But the old-time 
gentleman lived only six years to enjoy his son's kindness. 
On the 15th of August, 1808, having lived nearly three quar- 
ters of a century, he was laid in the Canton Cemetery. 

Colonel Benjamin's first wife, the mother of Benjamin, who 
died at Jamaica Plain, was Ruth, daughter of Deacon Joseph 
and Mary (Tolman) Hartwell, and was born Sept. 3, 1738, on 
what is known now as the Kollock farm. Her sister Elizabeth 
married Roger Sherman, Nov. 17, 1749. Ruth was married 
to Bussey, Nov. 26, 1755, and died Dec. 5, 1776. Colonel 
Bussey's second wife was Ruth, daughter of Zebediah Went- 
worth, who was born in 1751, and died Dec. 31, 1839. She 
was the last of the name that occupied the Bussey house, and 
many who read these lines will remember her. 

The property was sold to Zachariah Tucker — the famous 
school-master, and in 1829 post-master at North Canton, as 



Ponkapoag was then called — during the old lady's life, but 
provision was made for her maintenance. From his posses- 
sion it passed through the hands of Elisha Mann, Sr., and Jr., 
into those of Josiah Broad, and has sometimes of late years 
been known as the Broad house. 

The younger Benjamin Bussey was born near Reservoir 
Pond in Canton, on the ist of March, 1757, and died at his 
residence in Jamaica Plain, Jan. 13, 1842. He began life in 
poverty. His father gave him but the rudiments of an Eng- 
lish education. He was fond of reading, had a retentive 
memory, and gathered a vast fund of information. At the 
age of eighteen, he enlisted as a private soldier in the War 
of the Revolution. He joined the company of Captain Stow, 
of Dedham, and went to Ticonderoga, and at nineteen be- 
came quartermaster of the regiment. The following year he 
accepted the same position in the regiment of Col. Benjamin 
Gill, of Stoughton, and joined the troops who marched to ar- 
rest the progress of General Burgoyne. He was at the battles 
of Saratoga and Bemis Heights, and in the successful dis- 
charge of his duties met the approval of his commander and 
officers. At the termination of the war, he learned the trade 
of silversmith from a Hessian soldier, and began in 
a small shop at Ponkapoag, Aug. 24, 1780. Being then 
twenty-two, he was married to Judith Gay. He opened a lit- 
tle shop in Dedham, and at length acquired so much credit 
as to warrant him in removing to Boston in 1792, where he 
enlarged and extended his business. By steady gains he be- 
came very wealthy, and retired from business. By his will, 
his property, which, by accumulation, in 1861 amounted to 
^413,000, passed to Harvard College, to be held, one half " for 
instruction in practical agriculture, in useful and ornamental 
gardening, in botany and in such other branches of natural sci- 
ence as may tend to promote knowledge of practical agricul- 
ture, and the various arts subservient thereto and connected 
therewith." A portion of his vast property he devised to be 
used for the support of the Law and Divinity schools of the 
same University. The trustees erected in 1870, upon what 
was his farm in West Roxbury, a building containing class- 


rooms and laboratories for professorships in " Farming," 
"Applied Zoology," "Agricultural Chemistry," "Horticul- 
ture," " Botany," and " Entomology." This is known as the 
" Bussey Institution." 

There has been preserved a diary kept during the early 
period of the war, by Ezekiel Price, Esq., Clerk of the Court 
of Common Pleas and Sessions, and for many years chairman 
of the selectmen of Boston, who came to the Doty tavern ' 
before the ist of May, 1775, and remained during the oc- 
cupation of Boston by the British troops. The following 
extracts are especially interesting, as showing the daily ex- 
citements and alarms, the rumors and conversations, which 
took place at the old tavern during the troublous times of 
the Revolution: — 

"June 2, 1775. A company of soldiers from Freetown, on their 
way to Roxbury, stopped here all night. 

"June 5. Col. Gridley called, from the army at Cambridge. He 
confirms, in part, the account relating to the boats being taken, and 
the arrival of the powder. 

"June 8. A company from Tiverton, R. I., passed this morning. 

" June 15,1775- Quite a cool morning. Miss Becky and Miss Polly 
Gridley called here on their way to Dr. Sprague's, and went up with 
Mrs. Price and Mrs. Armstrong to the top of Blue Hills. Miss Becky, 
on her way down, killed two small snakes. Mrs. Sprague, Jr., with 
Miss Becky and Polly Gridley, spent the afternoon here. 

"June 1 6th. Heard of a new choice of officers in the Continental 
Army. Colonel Richmond, from the Congress, says that Dr. Warren 
was chosen a Major General; that Heath was not chosen to any 

"June 17. In the forenoon, the report of cannon heard. In the 
afternoon, sundry messengers passed, sent to alarm the country to 
muster to arms at Roxbury. The firing of cannon continually heard, 
and very loud. In the evening, saw a great light towards Boston ; the 
country people marching down ; the firing of cannon distinctly heard 
till after eleven o'clock. 

"June 18. The morning and forenoon, and towards sundown, 
heard the report of cannon. Some of the people who went down 
return from Cambridge. Reported that the town of Charlestown was 
burned by the Regulars that had landed there, and forced the Continen- 


tal Army out of their entrenchment on Bunker Hill ; that the engage- 
ment was hot and furious on both sides, but the ammunition of the 
Continental Army being spent, they were unable to oppose any 
longer, and the Regular Array then jumped into the entrenchments, 
and made considerable slaughter among the Continental Army. The 
loss is uncertain either side. It is supposed that great numbers are 
killed on both sides. Dr. Warren is said to be among the slain. Col. 
Gridley wounded in the leg. 

"June 19. Stopped at Col. Gridley's. They had received no cer- 
tain account of his wounds. Further reports relating to the unfortu- 
nate action at Charlestown. 

"June 21. It is said that a frost happened last night. Mrs. Price 
and Polly went to the top of Blue Mountain. 

"June 27. Mrs. Gridley and Miss Becky called upon us on their 
way home from Col. Gridley. They say the Colonel's wounds keep 
him confined so that he cannot move out of his bed, but that he is in 
a good way to be cured of it. Heard of the appointment of Generals 
Washington, Lee, and Schuyler. 

"June 29. It rained all of last evening and the whole night, and 
continued to rain very moderately all the forenoon. A soldier passed. 
Says he heard a number of cannons fired this afternoon since he left 

" July I . A pleasant morning. Assisted in cocking the hay. In 
the afternoon, assisted in getting the hay into the barn. No news 
from camps. 

" July 2. Mr. E. Quincy reports that eighteen hundred barrels of 
powder is arrived at Philadelphia or New York. 

" ]^^y 3- The plentiful rains that fell yesterday made it exceed- 
ingly pleasant this morning ; towards noon, very warm. In the after- 
noon, assisted in raking hay. Reports of the day that Gen. Washington 
had gone to Cambridge with Gen. Lee and others ; that some Regu- 
lars in a boat near Cambridge River, were killed by the Continental 

"Ju'y 5- Assisted in raking hay. Heard that Gen. Washington 
had visited the camps, and that the soldiers were much pleased with 
him ; and by the motions of the Continental Army, it is expected that 
something of importance will soon happen. 

"July 13. The firing of cannon heard for several hours this morn- 
ing; Went to Milton, and there heard that the Continental Army 
were opening an entrenchment near George Tavern, and that the 
Regulars were firing on them from their lines. 


"July 14. Warm in the sun, but afresh breeze made it agreeable. 
Some firing this forenoon from the cannon of the Regulars' entrench- 
ments on Boston Neck. 

"July 16. A very pleasant and agreeable day ; the weather warm ; 
a fine growing, season. The Regulars in Boston omit not this day 
in exercising and disciplining. They were firing platoons on the 
Common this forenoon, also exercising their artillery. 

" July 1 7. Took a ride to Milton, Informed that the Regular Army 
were entrenching themselves at the bottom of the Common in Boston. 
A fine shower of rain for an hour and a half, which refreshed the earth, 
and made it extremely pleasant. 

"July 18. An exceedingly pleasant morning. It is said that a 
party of the Continental Army intend to get on Spectacle Island 
this night. 

"July 20. This day solemnized as a public fast throughout the 
Colonies, agreeable to a resolve of the Continental Congress. The 
lighthouse at the entrance of the Harbor of Boston burnt by a 
party of the Continental Army, who went out in whale-boats for 
that purpose. 

"July 21. A pleasant morning. Further accounts relating to 
burning the lighthouse ; that the party, after burning the lighthouse, 
brought off four barrels of oil, some cordage and about a hundred- 
weight of powder ; also took seven prisoners. They also fired the 
barn with the hay in it on the Brewsters, brought away several thou- 
sand bushels of grain from Nantasket, two boats, and burnt another. 
Had two men wounded, and supposed they killed above twenty, as 
their oars dropped out of the boats. 

"Aug. 6, 177s- Heard that Major Tupper had leave to go out of 
the American lines to converse with Mr.. Thomas Boyleston upon 
private mercantile business. 

"Aug. II. Dined at Randall's at Stoughtonham. Drank tea at 
Col. Gridley's, and got to our home at Col. Doty's toivards evening.. 

"Aug. 13. P. M. attended worship at Mr. Dunbar's meeting house. 

"Dec. I. Went to Cambridge, visited Col. Gridley. 

" Dec. 8. Several soldiers passed from the American camp. 

" Dec. 10. The most part of this forenoon, soldiers and minute 
men from Taunton and several other towns above have been passing 
to our army, in order to support the lines and forts there. 

" Dec. 21. Col. Ephraim Leonard stopt here. The old gentleman 
had been below, intending to procure a pass to the lines in order to 


see and converse with his son Daniel now in Boston, but could not 
obtain the pass by reason of the small pox being in Boston. 

"Jan. 7, 1776. Heard report cannon. 

"Jan. 12. Mrs. Gridley and daughter Becky stopped here on their 
way to Cambridge to visit Scarboro Gridley, who they hear is danger- 
ously ill. 

"Jan. 21. Not a single traveller has stopped here to day. 

"Jan. 23. Major Parks stopped and dined with us. Mr. Parks 
went up the hill. After dinner they set out for Col. Gridley's. A mill 
is about being erected in this town for the manufacturing of powder. 

" Feb. 5. Mr. Royall came in at noon and says there is now, and 
for two hours has been, a smart cannonading somewhere or other. 

" 7. Great quantities of wood and charcoal and hay going to Rox- 
bury for the use of our army ; a number of recruits for the new army 
passed to Roxbury. 

" 8. Soldiers continue passing for the reinforcing of the army. 

"12. Walked abroad and met several small companies of the 
militia, who had enlisted for two months and going to reinforce our 
armies below. 

" Mch. 3. ■ An express passed by, with a letter to Col. Gill sup- 
posed for the militia to go down. 

"Mch. 4, 1776. Yesterday afternoon Col. Gill received orders to- 
be with his regiment at Roxbury by this day, twelve o'clock at noon. 
This forenoon the soldiers of Col. GiU's regiment passed to join the 
American army at Roxbury. Every preparation is making, and all 
things necessary near ready at Roxbury, to take possession of Dor- 
chester Hills this night. 

" 7. Fasting. I went to public worship. The militia who went 
down on Monday are returning home. 

" 8th. Pero was at Roxbury yesterday. 

" loth. I went on the hill near Stephen Davenport's and could 
there see the flashes of their (British) guns which seemed incessant. 
The reports of the cannon were loud, and continued the whole night 
and until after daybreak. I went to public worship in the morning. 

"17. Reports of cannonade were heard. In the forenoon^ 
went to public worship. At noon Mr. Edmund Quincy brought us 
the most interesting, most important, and most comforting news I have 
heard since I left Boston (that the British had left Boston). 

" 20. In the evening, a great light appeared over the top 
of the Blue Hill, supposed to be the enemy burning the buildings on 
Castle Island (so it proved). 



" Mar. 30. Mrs. Gridley and Scarboro stopped here on their way 
from Boston. 

"April I, Monday. The militia who enlisted two months ago 
are returning home, heard very distinctly the report of a number of 

'■' April 22. In the forenoon visited Mr. Royall, and took leave of 
him as going from Stoughton. After dinner took chaise and went to 
Dorchester, first taking an affectionate leave of Col. Doty's family, 
where we have resided near twelve months, that place being the first 
we took rest in after leaving our habitation in Boston and flying from 
the oppressive hand of arbitrary power which governed then our 
native town. 

" May 26. Col. Gridley passed to Boston." 




AT the beginning of hostilities, Stoughton and Stough- 
tonham were both designated as towns wherein were 
to be kept the supplies of the province, and later a com- 
pany of matrosses was stationed in each town to protect 
those stores. On the 2ist of April, 1775, two days after 
the battle of Lexington, the Provincial Congress ordered 
that a messenger be immediately despatched to Stoughton 
and request the attendance of General Gridley and his son. 

Richard Gridley, the son of Richard and Rebecca Grid- 
ley, was born in Boston on the 3d of. January, 1710. The 
family consisted of twelve children, of whom he was the 
youngest. Col. William Seward Gridley informs me that 
he was descended in the fourth generation from Richard 
Gridley, who is seen in Boston in 1630. At the usual age, 
Richard was apprenticed to Mr. Atkinson, a wholesale mer- 
chant of Boston, but Nature had made him a soldier, and 
art could not make him a merchant. Like Washington, he 
employed himself as a surveyor and civil engineer, — a pro- 
fession which few in his day were qualified to enter. It 
was at this time that he acquired that skill in drawing 
which his plan of the fortifications of Louisburg, still ex- 
tant, attests. His autograph letters reveal the skill of a 
ready writer, — an art he acquired with such facility in 
youth that one of his teachers remarked that he must have 
been born with a pen in his hand ; and even at the age 
of eighty years, his handwriting was clear and elegant. 
While still a youth, ascertaining that many persons suf- 
fered in their business transactions for want of a ganger, 
he, without regard to private emolument, engaged in the 


business, sacrificing his time for the advantage of his fellow- 
men. He was the first, and for a long time the only gauger 
in America. 

He was the chief projector of Long Wharf in Boston, 
which was constructed according to the plan he had pro- 
posed, and the first pier of which was sunk by him. In 
early life, while residing in Boston, it was Gridley's good 
fortune to become the friend of John Henry Bastide, — a 
young English gentleman of high culture and scientific at- 
tainments, who was to become Director of his Majesty's 
Engineers and Chief Engineer of Nova Scotia. This ac- 
complished officer was, when Gridley made his acquaintance, 
engaged in drawing plans for fortifications to be erected in 
the harbors of Boston, Marblehead, Cape Ann, and Casco 
Bay. He was the author of a valuable treatise on fortifica- 
tion ; he was also a skilled artillerist. From him Gridley 
ac^quired new zeal, and renewed the study of military science, 
the details of which he easily mastered. 

On the southeastern part of the Island of Cape Breton, 
stood, a century and a quarter ago, the city of Louisburg. 
Loyalty to the king had given it its name; and all that 
military skill could devise had for twenty-five years been 
employed upon its fortifications. Six millions of dollars 
had been expended in fortifying a city two miles and a half 
in circumference. On all sides arose a rampart of stone 
thirty-six feet high, from which two hundred and six cannon 
frowned defiance. Within, the town was beautifully laid 
out. Its streets were broad, and on both sides lined with 
public buildings with fronts of cream-colored sandstone. 
The adjacent hills echoed the reveille, and over the broad 
bosom of the Atlantic sounded the morning and evening 
gun. The shrill pipe of the boatswain, calling the sailors 
to duty, was drowned by the deep-voiced trumpet. The 
busy hum of an active population filled the streets ; the sol- 
dier in gorgeous uniform saluted the Jesuit in priestly robe. 
From the towers of churches, nunneries, and hospitals the 
sound of bells filled the air, while high above all rose the 
citadel from whose highest point floated a flag emblazoned 
with the lilies of France. 


Such was the city which, wonderful to relate, existed at 
so early a period in our history, and which, still more won- 
derful to relate, in 1745 the New England colonies, without 
the aid of the mother country, pluckily besieged. Col. 
William Pepperell commanded the expedition. Early in 
1745 Richard Gridley received his commission as "Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel" and "Captain of Train and Company,'' 
and on the ist of April joined the expedition. Thirty 
days after the investment of the place, on May 2, the 
Grand, or Royal Battery, which stood directly opposite 
the harbor of Louisburg, was captured by his Majesty's 
forces, and the command of it given to Gridley, the cap- 
tain of the artillery. The monotony of the siege was re- 
lieved by a visit from his old friend and instructor, Bastide ; 
and in the light of subsequent events it would appear that 
a portion of Gridley' s leisure hours was employed in cutting 
upon one of the stones of the fortification his name, " Grid- 
ley," and underneath the date, "1745." Only a few years 
ago the author of the "Life of Sir William Pepperell," in 
examining a pile of rubbish at the Grand Battery, found 
the stone with the deeply chiselled lines, done, in all 
probability, by Gridley' s own hand. Capt. Abraham Rel- 
ler, the first bombardier of the expedition, died, and on 
the 1st of August Grovernor Shirley commissioned Richard 
Gridley first bombardier; and he continued in the double 
capacity of first captain of artillery and first bombardier 
until the end of the siege ; and notwithstanding the General 
Court had ordered that no oflficer should receive pay in a 
double capacity, the money was granted him in England on 
both muster-rolls, and he received ;^ioo frrfm the province. 
The vigorous mind of Gridley, his quick perception, his 
early acquirements and pursuits, together with the instruc- 
tions of Bastide, enabled him to make rapid advances in 
the knowledge requisite for the performance of his duties. 
Such was the accuracy of his eye that he succeeded in 
ranging with his own hand the mortar, which, upon the 
third fire, dropped a shell directly into the citadel, and was 
the immediate cause of the surrender of the city. His first 


fire overreached ; his second fell short ; his third was suc- 
cessful. Not only the battery on Lighthouse Cliff, from 
which, in all probability, this shell was thrown, but all of 
Pepperell's batteries, were erected under the direction of 

Great was the rejoicing throughout the provinces when 
the joyful tidings were proclaimed that the stronghold of 
France in the New World had fallen before the attack of 
the farmers, mechanics, and fishermen of New England. 
Our old church records mention the happy event ; and the 
pastor writes, "Blessed be God, who heareth prayer." In 
London the cannon of the Tower announced the glorious 
news. All Europe was astonished. The commander of the 
expedition, General Pepperell, was made a baronet, — an 
honor never before conferred upon a native of America ; and 
Gridley, the chief engineer, who had planned his batteries, 
returned to Boston, and was honored with a captaincy in 
Governor Shirley's regiment on the British establishment. 
So ended the greatest event of our colonial history, — an 
everlasting memorial of the zeal, courage, and perseverance 
of the troops of New England. Gridley had won his first 
laurels. His reputation as an able and skilful engineer 
was established, and the knowledge obtained in this cam- 
paign was to be of inestimable value to his country. 

But the French were bent on the recovery of their " Dun- 
kirque of America; " and the following year (1746) the Due 
d'Anville, in command of a large fleet, sailed toward our 
shores. Governor Shirley employed Gridley to draw de- 
signs for a battery and other fortifications on Governor's 
Island in Boston Harbor; and from September until cold 
weather, Gridley was employed night and day upon Castle 
William, drawing all the plans for the work, both for ma- 
sons and carpenters. The spring and the summer of the 
following year were spent in completing the fortifications 
about the harbor. But the famous fleet of D'Anville was, 
like the Spanish Armada, scattered to the four winds of 

For several years Gridley saw no active service, as the 


regiment of General Shirley, in which he held a captaincy, 
was disbanded in 1749. In 1752 we find him in attendance 
upon the Governor in his journey to the Kennebec; and Fort 
Western, the site of which is now occupied by the city of 
Augusta, and Fort Halifax, a few miles farther up the Ken- 
nebec River, were erected under his supervision. In 1755 
he again entered the army as chief engineer ; and the House 
of Representatives (Sept. 9, 1755), knowing "the absolute 
need of persons that understood the artillery, voted that 
Col. Richard Gridley be desired for the necessity of the 
service to assist them in that part, and that his Honor the 
Lieutenant-Governor be desired to appoint him Colonel of 
one of the regiments to be raised for the Crown Point expe- 
dition, and that an express be immediately dispatched to 
him for his answer. " The answer was favorable. He was 
appointed commander-in-chief of the provincial artillery, 
colonel of infantry, and was to receive in addition to the 
pay of the latter position the same compensation he had 
received at the siege of Louisburg. Accompanied by his 
brother, Samuel Gridley, who had been appointed commis- 
sary in his own regiment, Richard joined the expedition 
against Crown Point ; and under his supervision Fort Wil- 
liam Henry and all the fortifications around Lake George 
were constructed. Having complete control of the artil- 
lery, the duties of the extensive command with which the 
Governor had honored him rendered it probable that he 
would be absent from his regiment, giving directions to the 
train. In the spring of 1756, therefore, two lieutenant- 
colonels were, at his suggestion, attached to his regiment. 
In June of the same year we find him, under General 
Winslow, at Albany, forming a camp at Half Moon, and 
drilling his men. He was not supplied with provisions or 
tools ; his ammunition was unfit for use ; his gun-carriages 
were constantly breaking. But in these adverse circum- 
stances, he writes, "You may depend upon it the army 
will push forward, let the consequences be what they will ; 
and if we are not provided with those' things which are of 
consequence to us, and may be provided, it 's entangling us 


more than we ought to be." And the army did push for- 
ward; but before it reached Crown Point, the sad news of 
the fall of Forts Oswego and Ontario caused it to return to 
a place of safety, and the campaign against Canada was 
ended for that year. 

Gridley was not only the trusted officer, but the valued 
friend of Winslow, and was selected by that general to 
accompany him when, on the 4th of August, 1756, he went 
"with our Chief Engineer, Colonel Gridley," to meet his 
Excellency, the Earl of Loudoun, then commander-in-chief 
of his Majesty's forces in America. On the muster-roll of 
Gridley' s regiment this year appears, as second lieutenant, 
the name of Paul Revere, who had just attained his ma- 
jority. In 1757 Governor Pownall ordered Gridley to pre- 
pare and form a train of artillery. This he did, and sailed 
for Halifax, intending to visit Louisburg; but the expedi- 
tion was turned from its purpose by the proximity of the 
French fleet. 

Cape Breton having been restored to France, Louisburg, 
in 1758, again became the scene of contention and hos- 
tilities. Gridley revis^ted his earliest field, and was pres- 
ent at the second taking of the city. He had charge of 
the advanced stores of the army, and so distinguished him- 
self in the siege that on the evacuation of the city by the 
French, Lord Amherst offered him the valuable furniture 
of the French Governor's residence, which offer he, with 
chivalrous delicacy, declined, ever unwilling to appropriate 
to his private use spoils taken from an enemy. While at 
Louisburg he gave, October 12, a power of attorney to 
James Fritter, Esq. , of Westminster, in Great Britain, to 
receive from the Right Honorable Henry Fox, Esq., Pay- 
master-General of his Majesty's forces, all sums of money 
that were or should become due him. 

On the 29th of December, 1758, the following letter 
was addressed by William Pitt to Major-Gen. Jeffrey 
Amherst : — 

I am also to signify to you His Maj"^ further pleasure, that you 
do forthwith take the proper steps to engage Col. Gridley (whom you 


appointed on the death of Mr Meserve to command the carpenters 
at the siege of Louisburg), or such other officer as you shall think 
proper, to collect the number of eighty carpenters and to proceed 
with them without loss of time to Cape Breton, in order that the 
same may be employed under the command of Col Gridley, — on 
such works as shall be necessary for the operations of the troops in 
the above expedition, or in such other manner as the Commander 
in Chief of the King's Troops in that expedition shall judge proper ; 
and in case you should think it expedient, you will endeavour to pre- 
vail on Mr Gridley to decline accepting any command in the Troops 
of his Province the ensuing campaign, in order that his whole time 
and attention may be employed on the above must essential service. 

(Signed) W. Pnr. 

Whitehall, Dec. 29, 1758. 

In obedience to the recommendations contained in this 
letter Gridley, in 1759, was appointed by General Amherst 
to the distinguished honor of commanding the provincial 
artillery, which, under General Wolfe, was about to besiege 
Quebec; his knowledge of the needs of an army was so 
exact that he was applied to for information respecting the 
quantity of provisions and clothing the provincial troops 
would require during the siege. General Amherst did not 
form a junction with Wolfe; he deemed the slender forces 
of the latter inadequate to the capture of a city so strongly 
fortified by Nature and art. Notwithstanding discourage- 
ments and disappointments, Colonel Gridley and the other 
principal officers warmly seconded the hazardous plan con- 
ceived by Wolfe, and landing in the night under the Plains 
of Abraham, succeeded in reaching the summit of the pre- 
cipice. It was Gridley' s corps that dragged up the only 
two fieldpieces which reached the heights ; and in the battle 
which ensued Gridley fought with bravery, and stood by 
the side of his renowned commander when that gallant 
officer fell, victorious. 

Peace having been restored, Gridley went to England to 
adjust his accounts with the government. He was received 
with great cordiality. For his distinguished services, the 
Magdalen Isles, with an extensive seal and cod fishery. 


and half-pay as a British officer were conferred upon him. 
Much of his time was passed during the next few years at 
his island home. He founded on Amherst Island an estab- 
lishment for trading and for the seal and walrus fisheries. 
During the Revolution, American privateers visited the 
island and destroyed everything accessible. Gridley re- 
turned after the war; but the walrus soon became extinct, 
and the islanders turned their attention to cod and herring 
fisheries. An eminence on one of these islands is still 
called Mount Gridley. In 1762 he purchased a house in 
Prince Street in Boston ; whether he occupied it himself or 
not is uncertain. In 1773 the Governor of New Hampshire, 
in acknowledgment of his meritorious services, granted him 
three thousand acres of land, now included in the town of 
Jackson. Advancing years induced him to resign the busi- 
ness at Magdalen Islands to his sons, whose descendants 
have ever since remained in the British possessions. 

In 1770 Richard Gridley purchased of Edmund Quincy 
one half of Massapoag Pond in Sharon for the sake of 
procuring iron ore from its bed. He, also in connection 
with Edmund Quincy, purchased or erected a furnace for 
smelting the ore. He began "The New Forge" at the 
Hardware in 1772, and came to reside in this town, Sept. 
28, 1773- He was then sixty-two years of age. To him- 
self and to his contemporaries it must have seemed as if his 
work was done. With the honors of a veteran of the French 
wars and a pension from the Crown, he might pass the re- 
mainder of his life in his rural home at Canton in comfort 
and with the respect of his countrymen. But this was 
not to be. 

Gen. Joseph Warren was an intimate friend of Gridley. 
It is asserted that as early as 1774 they signed a secret 
agreement, pledging themselves, in case of an open rupture 
with the mother country, that they would together join 
the patriot army. Be this as it may, Warren writes in 
January, 1775: — 

"Mr. Gridley, as an engineer, is much wanted. We have an 
opportunity of obliging him, which will, I believe, secure him to us 
in case of necessity." 


At the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, despite 
his age, Gridley eagerly accepted the overtures of his coun- 
trymen, who could ill spare one of such marked ability in 
the profession of arms. The men who had seen service in 
Nova Scotia and Canada were needed to regulate and dis- 
cipline troops who possessed, at this period, only one of the 
requisites of a soldier, courage. Throwing aside the in- 
ducements which would naturally have held him to the 
service of the king, Colonel Gridley, in answer to a letter 
from his British agent in England requesting to be in- 
formed on which side he should take up arms, replied, " I 
shall fight for justice and my country," and cast his lot 
with the patriots. His half -pay , ceased, and the arrears 
already due he had too much spirit to accept. 

Gridley was appointed to the command of the First Regi- 
ment of Artillery, — the only artillery regiment in the pro- 
vinces at the opening of the war. He was requested to 
select proper persons for officers, and we observe the name 
of Scarborough Gridley as second major. Ezra and Ste- 
phen Badlam appear respectively as first and second lieu- 
tenants in Samuel Gridley's company, — all Canton men. 
The second day after the meeting of the Provincial Con- 
gress at Concord, April 23, 1775, it was "resolved that an 
army of thirty thousand men was needed for the defence 
of the country. Artemas Ward, who had served under 
Abercrombie, was appointed Commander-in-Chief." It was 
further — 

" Resolved, That Richard Gridley, Esq., be and hereby is, appointed 
Chief Engineer of the forces now raising in the Colony for the defence 
of the rights of the American Continent, and that there be paid to the 
said Richard Gridley, out of the public treasury of this Colony, during 
his continuance in that service, at the rate of £\ 70 per annum ; and 
it is further resolved that from and after the time when the said forces 
shall be disbanded, during the life of said Gridley, there shall be paid 
to him, out of the said treasury, the sum of ;^i23 per annum." 

On the 26th of April Gridley entered the service and 
was soon actively engaged in the duties of his office. Dur- 


ing this time he was stationed at Cambridge and was in 
constant communication with the Provincial Congress, desir- 
ing them to appoint clerks to keep carefully the account of 
ordnance, stores, etc. In May Colonel Henshaw, Colonel 
Gridley, and Richard Devens were ordered by General 
Ward to view the heights in Charlestown. They attended 
to this duty and reported it advisable to fortify, first Pros- 
pect, then Bunker's, and finally Breed's Hill, so that if 
obliged to retreat from Breed's Hill, the fort at Bunker 
would cover our retreat with the cannon and drive the 
enemy's ships out of the rivers, and also prevent the enemy 
from keeping possession of Charlestown. "Why," says 
Colonel Henshaw, "the report was not approved I cannot 

On the i6th of June, 1775, Prescott received orders from 
Gen. Artemas Ward to proceed that evening to Bunker's 
Hill and build fortifications, which were to be planned by 
Colonel Gridley. At the hour "of sunset the troops assem- 
bled on Cambridge Common in front of General Ward's 
headquarters, provided with packs, blankets, and provisions. 
They soon set out on their silent march preceded by two 
sergeants with dark lanterns. The son of Colonel Gridley, 
Capt. Samuel Gridley, with his company of fifty men and 
two fieldpieces, accompanied and formed part of the expe- 
dition. Slowly they proceeded through the quiet of the 
night toward Charlestown, the only sound that greeted their 
ears being the drowsy cry of "All 's well! " from the sentry 
on the Boston shore. They reached the heights in about an 
hour, when the question arose whether Breed's or Bunker's 
Hill was the proper one whereon to erect fortifications. 
The consultation was long and acrimonious. Time was 
precious. The veteran Gridley urged with all the force of 
his ardent nature that Bunker's Hill was the only proper 
one whereon to erect breastworks. He sustained his opin- 
ion by examples from his own experience and from the 
chronicles of military history. One of the generals coin- 
cided with him, but the other was stubborn and determined 
not to yield. At length Gridley said to the latter, "Sir, 



the moments are precious ; we must decide at once. Since 
you will not give up your individual opinion to ours, we will 
give up to you. Action, and that instantly, only can save 
us." Thus the obstinacy of this general decided the matter, 
and Breed's Hill was the one selected. 

The first detachment had no sooner reached the hill than 
Gridley began to mark out the plan of the fortifications, — 
gave orders to his men, and when not busy in directing 
others, worked himself, spade in hand, throwing up the 
fortifications which were to be the protection of the embryo 
nation. It was a mistake for one having such knowledge 
and ability to join in the manual labor. The next morning, 
that never-to-be-forgotten seventeenth of June, Gridley 
was unwell, owing to his fatigue of the night previous, and 
was obliged to leave the hill; but he so far recovered as to 
return later in the day. He immediately placed himself at 
the head of his own battery of artillery, which, judging from 
all accounts, was poor enough. It had been raised espe- 
cially for Gridley, and great exertions had been made to 
complete it. It was believed that if commanded by him it 
would do great execution; but it consisted of only ten com- 
panies and 417 men. It had two brass pieces and six iron 
six-pounders. The brass pieces were those which have 
since been known as the "Adams" and "Hancock." Grid- 
ley, seizing one of these, pushed bravely forward, and aided 
in discharging it, until it was disabled and he was obliged 
to order it to the rear. During the whole engagement, 
though well knowing that a price had been set upon his 
head by the British government, Gridley never flinched, 
but was exposed to the severest fire of the enemy. He 
ascended the hill with Warren, was near him, and saw him 
fall. Almost at the same time he was himself struck by 
a musket-ball in the left leg. An historian, describing the 
state of affairs at this critical moment, says : " Warren was 
killed and left on the field; Gridley was wounded." All 
seemed to be lost, and finding that he could do no more, 
Gridley entered his sulky to be carried off, but meeting 
with some obstruction, had but just vacated it when the 


horse was killed and the sulky riddled by the bullets of 
the enemy. Enoch Leonard, one of his neighbors from 
Canton, went to Boston and conveyed him home. His 
wound could not have been serious, for a few days after, 
assisted by his son, Lieut. -Col. Scarborough Gridley, he 
took charge of a battery placed at Roxbury Highlands. 

The last of June we find him at Cambridge, begging that 
the artillery may be supplied with blankets, declaring that 
his men are sadly in want of them, and are falling sick daily 
in consequence. On July 3 he addressed a letter to the 
Provincial Congress, asserting that he had nominated field 
officers for the regiment of artillery that he deemed best 
for the interests of the country. But he says, "The Pro- 
vincial Congress do not deem it necessary to consult with 
me ; " and his letter closes thus : — 

" Be assured, gentlemen, if I must have no judgment, and am not 
to be consulted in these matters, and must have persons transferred 
on me, I am determined I will withdraw m)'self from the army, and 
wiU have nothing further to do with it." 

It is said that America began her Revolution with but 
ten pieces of cannon; and to the mechanical science and 
ingenuity of Gridley was she indebted for the first cannon 
and mortars ever cast in this country. His furnace was 
for a long time employed, by order of Congress, under his 
direction, casting cannon for the use of the army. In Feb- 
ruary, 1776, we find him at Massapoag Pond, with a num- 
ber of men, proving mortars, which were afterward placed 
on Dorchester Heights. He was assisted at this time by 
Captain Curtis, who, like himself, was a veteran of the 
French War. One year later, Feb. 14, 1777, Congress 
empowered Robert Treat Paine to contract with him for 
forty eight-inch howitzers, to be sent to Ticonderoga. 

On the 20th of September, 1775, Richard Gridley re- 
ceived from the Provincial Congress the rank of major- 
general, and was ordered to take command of the artillery 
with the rank of colonel. He had received the highest 
rank from the Provincial Congress, and had his commission 


been renewed in the Continental army, Washington says, 
"He would have outranked all the brigadier and all the 
major generals." Nevertheless, he writes, Dec. 31, 1775: 
" I believe Colonel Gridley expects to be continued as Chief 
Engineer in the army. It is very certain that we have no 
one better qualified." Not only did Washington acknowl- 
edge his great value as an officer, but he urgently requested 
him to accompany the army to the South. But the infirm- 
ities of age were creeping upon him. He resigned his 
commission, and the council of officers coincided in the 
belief that on account of his advanced age it were better 
to place the command of the artillery in younger hands. 
On Friday, the 17th of November, 1775, Henry Knox, 
whose skill as an artillerist had attracted the attention of 
Washington, and whose subsequent career was so brilliant, 
succeeded General Gridley in command of the artillery. 

On April 5, i ']y6. Colonel Gridley was directed to super- 
intend all works that were begun or might be resolved on 
for the defence of the harbor; and on the i6th Colonel 
Hutchinson's regiment was ordered to erect the works to 
be laid out at Dorchester Point, next to Castle Island, the 
colonel to appoint a proper officer to superintend the work 
under the direction of Colonel Gridley. Samuel Adams 
Drake writes, — • 

" Gridley was chief engineer and the only man in the army capa- 
ble of the important task of planning and executing a systematic line 
of investment. Knox occasionally assisted j but it is hardly fair to 
raise him to the same consequence as Gridley, whose experience, 
ability, and superior rank no one questions." 

On the memorable night of the 4th of March, 1776, it 
was decided to fortify Dorchester Heights. With his usual 
celerity and skill, Gridley marked out the plan of the breast- 
works, and a strong redoubt was soon erected which one 
historian compares "to the works of Aladdin; " and another, 
in speaking of the fortifications, says, " In history they were 
equalled only by the lines and forts raised by Julius Caesar 
to surround the army of Pompey. " Certain it is that they 


were so strong that neither Lord Howe nor Earl Percy 
dared attack them, and deemed it best to evacuate Bos- 
ton, — "as absolute a flight," said Wilkes in the House of 
Commons, "as that of Mahomet from Mecca." 

After the evacuation of Boston, General Washington 
offered to Gridley his choice of a place of residence in 
that city, where he remained many months, and was in- 
trusted by the commander-in-chief with the duty of demol- 
ishing the British intrenchments on the Neck; and in order 
that the work might be well and quickly done. General 
Ward had orders to furnish him with as many men as he 
deemed necessary for the undertaking. Castle William, 
the hills of Charlestown, Fort Hill in Boston, and all the 
prominent positions about the harbor were erected or 
strengthened under his direction. 

When Bunker Hill again came into the possession of 
the Americans after the departure of the royal troops, 
search was made for the body of Major-Gen. Joseph Warren ; 
and when, on the 8th of April, 1776, the body was rein- 
terred, Richard Gridley was among the distinguished gen- 
tlemen who acted as pall-bearers. 

Twelve days after, Gridley was ordered by Washington 
to attend to the fortifications on Cape Ann and protect the 
harbor of Gloucester.. While performing his duties here, 
he attended the ministrations of the Rev. John Murray, and 
it was but a step for one who had been an admirer of May- 
hew and Chauncy to become a Universalist. He adopted 
the belief of the "Promulgator," as Murray was then called, 
and there was established between them a friendship, desig- 
nated by Mrs. Murray in after years as " an old and unbroken 
amity. " In the deepest trouble of his life, when his beloved 
partner — whom he had married before he was of age, and 
with whom he had enjoyed nearly sixty years of connubial 
happiness — died, it was to Murray, his friend and spiritual 
guide, that he looked for comfort and strength. No better 
insight into Gridley's home life can be had than that given 
by Mrs. Murray in a letter addressed to her parents, under 
date of Oct. 24, 1790: — 


"The weather on Monday morning proving remarkably fine, we 
commenced our journey to Stoughton. Much had we dwelt on 
the serene enjoyments which awaited us in the family of Col. Gridley, 
and it was only in the paternal dwelling that we expected more un- 
equivocal marks of friendship. Upon how many contingencies doth 
sublunary bliss depend ; all felicity is indeed a work too bold for . 
mortals, and we ought never assuredly to promise ourselves the pos- 
session of any good. With much rapidity we posted forward. For 
the convivial smiles of hospitality we were prepared ; but alas for us ! 
the venerable Mistress of Stoughton villa had, the day before our 
arrival, breathed her last. Her family — her bereaved family — met 
us in tears ; but her clay-cold tenement, shrouded in its burial dress, 
unconscious of our approach, preserved with dignified tranquillity its 
sweet and expressive composure. Often had her arm with even ma- 
ternal tenderness been extended to us, while the tumultuous joy of her 
bosom was described by every expression of her face. But now her 
heart had forgot to beat, — to the glad sensations of affection it is no 
longer awake ; and for the arrival of the messenger of peace the sigh 
of her perturbed bosom will no more arise. Many years of pain she 
hath lingered out, and for weeks past her agonies have been exquisite. 
Ought we then to mourn her exit, when, moreover, she departed 
strong in faith, giving glory to God ? Yet, for me, I confess I am 
selfish, censurably selfish ; and while I stood gazing on her breathless 
corse, the agonized breathings of my spirit to the Preserver of men 
were, that I might never be called to view my beloved parents thus 
stretched upon the bed of death. The life of Mrs. Gridley has been 
amiable ; she has departed fuU of days, and her connections will 
retain of her the sweetest remembrance. 

" We had intended to have reached town earlier in the week ; but it 
was not in friendship to leave unburied so venerable a connection, to 
resist the importunities of her aged companion and her earnestly im- 
ploring children. From Monday noon until Friday morning we 
remained in Stoughton, yielding such alleviations as an old and un- 
broken amity had a right to expect. On Thursday afternoon, the 
sepulchral rites were performed. Her only surviving brother, a white- 
haired old gentleman, with his lady, and a number of other connec- 
tions, arrived about noon from Boston, for the purpose of paying the 
last honors to the deceased by attending her obsequies. An affec- 
tionate exhortation and prayer was delivered by Mr. Murray previous 
to the commencement of the procession, and at the grave, also, sotne 
suitable observations were made by our friend, calculated to do jus- 


tice to the departed, and administer improvement and consolation 
to survivors. Our company at Col. Gridley's on Thursday even- 
ing was large, and we passed it like those who entertain the sure and 
certain hope of meeting again the pleasing connection who had so 
recently taken her flight. The weather yesterday morning proved 
most propitious to our wishes, and after a night of refreshing slum- 
bers, we departed from Stoughton, enriched with the warmest wishes 
of our friends." 

"Stoughton Villa," the residence of General Gridley, was 
situated on almost the exact spot where the house of Miss 
Chloe Dunbar now stands, and in the yard the peonies still 
blossom from the original stock which Gridley planted. 

To return to the military career of Gridley. In Novem- 
ber, 1776, he was at Castle William, and gave his testimony 
in favor of Preserved Clapp, as the inventor of a gun-car- 
riage, signing himself chief engineer. In a letter dated 
March, 1778, he wrote to General Heath for more men to 
close the fortifications at Castle William and Governor's 
Island. He desired that the assistance be sent him that 
spring, as he feared a return of the enemy. In doing this, 
he said he was instigated by his love of country, and that 
should any accident happen through delay, the blame would 
fall on him. His receipts for payment and the commuta- 
tion accounts for July, August, and September show that 
he was still chief engineer. 

In 1780 he wrote to Major-General Heath that he had had 
no pay for thirteen months, and begged that the general 
would allow him something and charge it to his depart- 
ment. He complained that the last pay he received he was 
obliged to divide with his son, who assisted him. It is 
stated upon good authority that Gridley was connected, in 
1781, with the operations in Rhode Island, but we have no 
documentary proof of it. On Feb. 26, 1781, Congress re- 
solved that it be recommended to the State of Massachu- 
setts to make up to Richard Gridley the depreciation of his 
pay as engineer, at sixty dollars per month, from the time 
of his appointment to the ist of January, 1781. The Mas- 
sachusetts "Register," of 1783, asserts that Col. Richard 


Gridley by recommendation of Congress had a pension 
granted him of ;£'i2i 135-. 4d. annually during his life, in 
compensation for the loss he had sustained by entering into 
the service of the United States. 

It is the year 1783, and the citizens of the town have met 
in the old church to celebrate the return of peace. From 
the tower the bell rings forth a merry peal. Flags are fly- 
ing; guns are booming. Men who have taken part in the 
dangers of the war greet at the church door their compan- 
ions-in-arms. Young men and maidens come from far and 
near to join in the festivities. In the pulpit sits the pastor 
who has ministered to the people for over half a century, 
and by his side the orator of the day. But when the thanks 
of the people were to be returned to the veterans of the war, 
and thanksgiving was to be offered to Almighty God for the 
success of our arms and the establishment of the Republic, 
Richard Gridley was uninvited, forced to remain at home 
and see the great concourse of people pass his house to 
celebrate the return of a peace to which he had contributed 
more than any of them. Gridley could not understand this 
neglect, and inquired of a friend why he had received no 
invitation to the celebration. His friend reluctantly an- 
swered, "Because, General, you are not considered by 
those having that matter in charge a Christian." His 
friend alluded to the fact that Gridley had become a Uni- 
versalist in religious belief. The veteran paused a mo- 
ment, dropped his head upon his breast, and solemnly 
uttered these words : " I love my God, my country, and my 
neighbor as myself. If they have any better religion, I 
should like to know what it is." 

General Gridley's last appearance in public was in 1795, 
when he assisted in laying the corner-stone of the State- 
House. The same year we find his name attached to the 
petition for the Act of incorporation of the town of Canton. 

In private life General Gridley's character was ex- 
emplary. Correct morals, unimpeachable integrity, un-' 
sullied honesty, strict veracity, habits of temperance to 
abstemiousness in an age when every one drank liquor, a 


freedom from every vice, and the practice of the virtues 
that adorn and dignify human nature were the distinguish- 
ing traits of his character. He possessed equanimity of 
temper, and as a friend and companion was cheerful, agree- 
able, and instructive. The Hon. William Eustis, Dr. Town- 
send, and many others, having begun their studies with 
General Warren, and being by his death deprived of their 
patron, looked with almost filial affection upon General 
Gridley as their guide, companion, and friend, and passed 
much of their time with him during his residence at the 
house of Governor Brooks in Cambridge, with whom he 
passed many happy hours. His elegance of deportment 
was noticed and admired. He was equally charitable to 
individuals and to the public. 

In stature he was tall, of commanding presence, with a 
frame firm and vigorous. His constitution was like iron. 
He rarely suffered from illness, and his death was not in 
consequence of the general decay of nature, such as usually 
attends advanced age, but was caused by blood-poisoning 
induced by cutting dogwood bushes. He died on the 21st 
of June, 1796. On Thursday, the 23d, he was buried in a 
small enclosure near his house. Soon after, his effects 
were sold. The portrait of his Majesty George H. and the 
picture of Blenheim were carried to the house of Dudley 
Bailey. Jesse Pierce bore away the portrait of the Duke of 
Cumberland and the silver-hilted sword. The silver and the 
old tankard remained in the family. The Rev. John Murray 
preached his funeral sermon, and crowds from far and near 
came to Canton to pay their tribute of love and respect to 
his memory. In this neglected spot his body rested until 
Saturday, Oct. 28, 1876, when the committee, consisting of 
Elijah A. Morse, Oliver S. Chapman, Edward R. Eager, Wil- 
liam E. Endicott, Daniel T. V. Huntoon, appointed to 
erect the Gridley monument, began the disinterment. A 
few strokes of the pick revealed that an error of about 
a foot had been made in the location of the grave ; a second 
attempt proved successful, and at the depth of seven feet the 
sides of the coffin were reached; from this time the work 


was conducted with greater care, a trowel taking the place 
of a spade. A part of the skull of the veteran was lifted 
from its bed of sand and gravel, and to it was attached a 
quantity of gray hair, ending in a braided queue ; this suffi- 
ciently identified the body. Portions of the bones of the 
arms and legs were soon after exhumed, and everything 
found in the grave, except the queue, was placed in a box, 
which the committee conveyed to the cemetery, where the 
remains were reinterred, each member of the committee and 
a delegation of the Canton Historical Society assisting. 
On the 24th of October the monument had been brought 
from Milton and placed in position upon the site previously 
selected by the committee, and given by the town at its 
annual meeting, for that purpose. The base of the pedestal 
is of hammered Quincy granite; the dado is of Randolph 
granite with polished tablets, which bear the following 
inscriptions : — 

" This monument is erected by the citizens of Canton to the mem- 
ory of Richard Gridley, as a tribute of honor and gratitude to one 
whose life was spent in the service of his country. Born Jan. 3, 1 710. 
Died June 21, 1796. 

" A veteran of three wars, he commanded the artillery of His 
Majesty's army at the siege of Louisburg ; he stood by the side of 
Wolfe at the fall of Quebec, and as Major General and Chief Engi- 
neer of the Patriot army he planned the fortification on Bunker Hill, 
and on the day of the battle fell wounded. 

" I shall fight for justice and my country. 

" I love my God, ray country, and my neighbor as myself." 

" Washington wrote : — 

" I know of no man better fitted to be Chief Engineer than 
General Gridley." 

The tablet on the southeast side facing Washington Street 
bears the American shield with the name "Gridley" in 
large letters. The whole is surmounted by a cannon in 
exact imitation of the " Hancock " or " Adams, " — one of the 
guns Gridley served with his own hand at the battle of 
Bunker Hill. 

Thus, life's duties well performed, passed away one of the 


most distinguished military characters of New England, — 
renowned for personal bravery, a skilled artillerist, a scien- 
tific engineer, a prominent actor in the great events of our 
country's history; the companion of Sir William Pepperell, 
of Lord Amherst, of Earl St. Vincent, of Cook the navi- 
gator, of Gage, Montgomery, and Wolfe; in later days, of 
Prescott and Putnam and Knox, of Thomas and Ruggles and 
Frye and Warren and Washington. 

A writer in the "Columbian Centinel," issued a few days 
after his death, in speaking of General Gridley, says : — 

" To sketch the usefulness of the deceased, to delineate his services 
as a citizen, a soldier, and mason, are unnecessary. They have repeat- 
edly been acknowledged by his countrymen, and live in the memory 
of every one acquainted with the history of our country." 

Note. — Major Scarborough Gridley is said to have procured his appoint- 
ment as second major of the First Regiment of Artillery in the place of Benja- 
min Thompson, afterward Count Rumford, through parental partiality. On the 
morning of the battle of Bunker Hill, he had been ordered to proceed with his 
battalion from Cambridge to the lines, but advanced but a few rods beyond the 
Neck when he halted, determined, as he said, to cover the retreat, which he con- 
sidered inevitable. Colonel Frye, seeing Gridley the younger in this position, 
said to him, " What are you waiting here for? " " We are waiting to cover the 
retreat." "Retreat!" cries the veteran ; "who talks of retreating? This day 
thirty years ago, I was present at the taking of Louisburg, when youir father 
with his own hand lodged a shell in the citadel. His son was not born to talk 
of retreating. Forward, to the lines ! " Gridley proceeded a short distance 
with his artillery, but overcome with terror, ordered his men back upon Cobble 
Hill, to fire with three-pounders upon the "Glasgow" and the floating batteries. 
This order was so absurd that Captain Trevett refused to obey it, and proceeded 
to the scene of action with two pieces of artillery; this little fragment of Grid- 
ley's battery was the only reinforcement that the Americans received during 
the battle. For his conduct at the battle, Scarborough was tried by court- 
martial, Major-General Greene presiding. The sentence of the court, Sept. 24, 
1775, ™^s> t''^' '<"■ "being deficient in his duty upon the 17th of June last, the 
day of the action upon Bunker's Hill, the court find Major Scarborough Gridley 
guilty of a breach of orders. They do therefore dismiss him from the Massa- 
chusetts service ; but on account of his inexperience and youth, and the great 
confusion that attended that day's transactions in general, they do not consider 
him incapable of a Continental commission, should the general officers recom- 
mend him to his Excellency." Several persons, living and dead, h^ve con- 
founded Scarborough with Richard Gridley. Samuel Gridley was also ^ son 
of the general. 




WE now come to the building of the powder-mill. In 
order to make our narrative complete, it will be 
necessary to go back to the year 1673. On the 22d of August 
of that year we find the Rev. John Oxenbridge, pastor, and 
the Rev. James Allen, teacher, of the First Church in Bos- 
ton, with Robert Sanderson, one of the deacons of the 
church, entering into a partnership with Capt. John Hull 
and Freegrace Bendall, both engaged in trade in Boston, 
to purchase a piece of land for the purpose of erecting a 
powder-mill. Two years after, they took in, among others, 
Mr. John Wiswall, Sr. These gentlemen entered into a 
sort of stock company, organized for the purpose of " erect- 
ing a building and improving a powder mill at Neponset, 
in the township of Milton." This mill was situated just 
south of the bridge that crosses the Neponset River in Mil- 
ton ; but the watch-house, which was of stone, and the house 
occupied by the workmen were on the northerly side of the 
river, in what is now known as Ward XXIV. of the city of 
Boston. The company appointed one Walter Everendon 
(now Everton) — a Kentish man, " who had made powder in 
England as he saith " — as overseer. In less than three 
months from the beginning of the enterprise, the work had 
been so vigorously prosecuted that the General Court, con- 
sidering the danger of the destruction of the buildings by 
fire or otherwise from King Philip during the time of his 
war, ordered that a constant watch be kept at "Unkety" 
for the preservation of the powder-mill and the grist-mill 
in its immediate vicinity, and watchmen were appointed 
to look after them. The General Court also signified its 


interest in the undertaking by allowing the proprietors, who 
were about to erect a stone watch-house, authority " to re- 
pair to any magistrate by the law empowered to give war- 
rants to impress workmen to carry on public works, of which 
sort this is." 

In 1 701 Walter Everendon bought out Joseph Wiswall's 
interest, and from time to time purchased the interests of 
others, so that in 1722 Everendon and Israel Howe owned 
all the property, and divided it, Everendon taking all on 
the Dorchester side of the river. In 1724 Howe retired; 
and Walter Everendon, having been in the business for 
nearly half a century, sold. out to his son, Benjamin, and 
the following year died. In 1744 the original mill, on the 
Milton side of the river, blew up. Benjamin Everendon 
continued the business of manufacturing powder on the 
Dorchester side of the river until 1749, possibly until 1757, 
when he sold out and removed to Canton. 

Mr. Everendon's attention was called to the fact that an 
excellent mill privilege at Canton was for sale at a low 
price. He purchased, in 1749, from Richard Hall and 
Mary, his wife, — the heirs of Ebenezer Maudsley, — a 
seven-eighths part, and in 1753, of Timothy Jones, one- 
eighth part of what was then known as "y° old iron 
works," with two acres of land adjoining the site of the 
former works, lying on the southerly side of the stream. 
Here he erected buildings suitable for the purpose of manu- 
facturing powder. He also erected, as he had done in Mil- 
ton, a grist-mill; and before the year 1753 the buildings 
were completed and the works in running order, and so 
continued until the time of his death, in 1766. Nor is it 
probable that the manufacture of powder at these mills then 
ceased; for Benjamin Everendon, by his will, devised his 
powder and corn-mills, with the privilege of the stream, 
to his son, Abijah Everendon. The works were discon- 
tinued before the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, 
but we are unable to ascertain the exact time. In speaking 
of the estate as it existed in 1784,— it being then the prop- 
erty of Thomas Everendon, grandson of Benjamin and great- 


grandson of Walter, — the Hon. Elijah Dunbar says, "There 
was no mill then standing on the spot." 

At the beginning of the Revolution, prudence demanded 
that some provision be made to procure ammunition for 
the approaching contest. The first and most important 
duty was to procure an ample supply of powder. 

In 1774 Canton had been selected as a fitting place for 
the Suffolk County Congress, because it was retired, yet 
within easy access of Boston. The same reasons undoubt- 
edly influenced those at the head of affairs two years after- 
ward in selecting this town as the most suitable place to 
begin the manufacture of powder. The distance from the 
sea was great enough to render it safe from the attacks 
of an enemy landing on the coast, and yet transportation 
was easy. But besides these advantages, the town of Can- 
ton possessed a skilled workman who understood the manu- 
facture of powder. The Everendon family, powder-makers 
for generations, were still resident here, and were designated 
in legal documents as " powder makers " by vocation. These 
considerations undoubtedly influenced the government in 
determining the location of the mill. The immediate cause 
may have been an anonymous letter received by Dr. Joseph 
Warren, as follows : — 

May 31, 1775. 

Sir, — I shall just take the liberty to give you a friendly line, which 
I have often mentioned in conversation, but perhaps it will arrive so 
late as to merit no higher honor than just to light your pipe. . . . 

There is now living, or rather pining in poverty, one Everton in 
Stoughton, that by proper encouragement might at this day become 
a most useful member of society. He perfectly understands making 
gunpowder and reviving that which is damaged, and he is the only 
one in the Province that has the practical skill. What pity the art 
should die with him ! But what am I about? Sat verbum, &c. 

A True Son of Libert^'. 
To Dr. Joseph Warren, 

President of the Congress at Watertown. 

The November following the receipt of this letter, the 
contents of which without doubt General Warren had com- 


municated to parties interested, the House of Representa- 
tives appointed a committee to consider a proper place to 
erect a powder-mill. The committee were authorized in 
December " to purchase the remains of a powder-mill in the 
town of Stoughton, with so much of the land and stream as 
may be sufficient to prepare said mill for the manufacture 
of powder. " This vote was subsequently reconsidered, and 
a committee appointed to visit Andover, Sutton, and Stough- 
ton, to take a view of the place in each of the towns where 
it was proposed to erect a mill. 

The town of Stoughton was considered to have the most 
advantages; but the colonial government did not deem it 
best to purchase the property formerly occupied by the 
Everendons, but bought the privilege next above on the 
same stream. This site was owned by one Samuel Briggs 
and his son, who on the 20th of February, 1776, conveyed 
about three quarters of an acre and fifteen rods of land, 
part upland, part mill-pond, to the Colony of the Massa- 
chusetts Bay, for ;£ioo, — the grantors agreeing not to dam- 
age any water-works that might be built by the colony. 
This land was near the house occupied by the late Joseph 
Warren Revere, and ^Jill in the possession of the Revere 
family. On the 19th of January, 1776, the House of Rep- 
resentatives ordered the committee appointed to erect the 
powder-mill for the use of the colony, "to commence the 
building of the mill at Stoughton, and to exert themselves 
to hurry on this important and necessary business without 
delay," and cause the same to be constructed in such manner 
as shall appear to them most advantageous. 

The historian of Andover, Mass. , informs us that as early 
as the ist of January, 1776, Mr. Samuel Phillips, Jr., ob- 
tained an order from the General Court, permitting him 
"to employ the master workman of the powder mill erecting 
for the Colony in Stoughton one Mr. Harling," and adds, 
"The mill at Andover was completed nearly three months 
before the one at Stoughton was ready for work." In 
February the building of the mill was progressing. On the 
9th of May Major Thomas Crane was appointed to carry on 


the manufacture of powder at the colony mill at Stoughton, 
and " employ such skilful persons as manufacturers as may 
be sufficient for the purpose ; " and on the loth of the same 
month it was — 

" Resolved, That there be paid to Thomas Crane and Daniel Vose, 
Esq., ;£'300 to enable them to pay and discharge the debts they have 
already contracted for labor and materials in building a powder mill 
at Stoughton for the Colonys use." 

The "Massachusetts Spy," in its issue of May 3, says, "The 
powder-mill at Stoughton will begin to go in a few days." 
Everything was ready to begin operations. The building 
where the powder was stored was protected by a high post 
and rail fence, behind which, night and day, guards were 
posted with orders from the government "to fire upon any 
persons who shall attempt, upon being three times forbid 
by such guards, to enter the said lines." 

So successful was the enterprise that in the September 
following 37,962 pounds of powder and 34,155 pounds of 
saltpetre were in the storehouse of Major Crane ; and dur- 
ing the first three years of the war the Canton powder-mill 
furnished the greater part of the powder that was used 
by the provincial army. A writer of the time says that 
"not only was a large quantity of gunpowder manufac- 
tured at this mill, but it was of an excellent quality, made 
from saltpetre, the product of the towns in the vicinity." 
Upon a requisition from the board of war, the powder was 
placed in wagons, and under the protection of a guard, 
conveyed by night over the rough roads to its destination, 
and distributed as the military necessities of the army de- 
manded. On Sept. 12, 1776, 350 pounds were sent on board 
the schooner "Langdon." During the years 1777-79, 7, 600 
pounds were used on the Continental frigate " The Boston. " 
Forty barrels, containing one hundred pounds each, were sent, 
on Oct. 20, 1777, to "the Castle," for which Paul Revere, the 
commanding officer at the time, gives his receipt to Major 
Crane. Large quantities were also at various times deliv- 
ered at the Castle and at the powder-house in Boston. In 


February, 1777, six Indians, delegates from the Six Na- 
tions, visited Massachusetts. The story had been circu- 
lated among their tribes that the Americans were not able 
to manufacture powder, and could not, therefore, contend 
for any length of time with the mother country. In order 
to prove to the Indians how false these British stories were, 
the council ordered that in case the Indians visited any pow- 
der-mills, the powder-makers were directed to give them all 
the information they were able about the making of powder, 
in order to convince them that powder was really made in 
this State, and was good, and to present them with a small 
sample. The Indians were escorted to Canton, where they 
witnessed the process of making powder, and were given a 
portion of the stock in hand. 

On the 1st of March, 1779, the General Court resolved 
that a committee, consisting of George Partridge, Lemuel 
Kollock, and Samuel Phillips, Jr., should have power to 
sell by auction or private sale the powder-mill at Canton, with 
all the appurtenances thereunto belonging. They further 
instructed their committee that an express condition should 
be made with the purchaser or his successor, that during the 
succeeding four years he should be obliged to manufacture 
for the State all the gunpowder that the General Court shall 
from time to time order to be made, providing the quantity 
is not greater than the capacity of the mill. The State was 
to furnish the materials, but the owner was to be at the 
expense of procuring sulphur and coals. The compensation 
the owner was to receive for his powder was " as much per 
pound as shall be equivalent to what eight pence was at the 
time the mill first began to work." 

On the 17th of April following, the committee con- 
veyed the land and mill-pond with stream of water, the 
powder-mill, together with all the utensils of whatever kind 
that had been purchased by the State for the accommoda- 
tion of the powder-mill, to Samuel Osgood, of Andover, he 
paying therefor the sum of ;^3,200. From Osgood, in July, 
1779, the powder-mill passed into the possession of Samuel 
Phillips, Jr., of Andover. 


On the 30th of October, 1779, the powder-mill at Canton 
was blown to atoms. One diarist says: "Oct. 30, 1779, 
Powder mill blew up ex parte; one Pettingill very much 
burnt. — 31, Pettingill dies." Another diarist records the 
event as follows: "Oct. 31, Benjamin Pettingill dies in 
thirty-five hours after being burnt in the powder mill. " 

The large stones which had been used to grind the pow- 
der were carried to the grist-mill afterward owned by Major- 
Gen. Richard Gridley, and standing near where the old 
road crosses the Massapoag Brook, opposite to what is now 
the factory of the American Net and Twine Company. 
Within the memory of persons now living, these stones 
have been used for the purpose of grinding corn. 

The property, in June, 1792, was conveyed by Sartiuel 
Phillips, Jr., to Jonathan Leonard and Adam Kinsley, 
ironmongers; but this time the description is changed, 
and in place of-" a powder mill " we find "the remains of a 
powder mill standing thereon. " 

On the 14th of March, 1801, Col. Paul Revere, of Revo- 
lutionary fame, purchased the property and other real estate 
in its immediate vicinity. Upon the ground there was then 
standing a dwelling-house, trip-hammer shop, and "cole" 
house. Colonel Revere soon began to erect new buildings 
and refit the old. From this time forward until his death, 
the gallant patriot was a resident of Canton during the sum- 
mer months, and was ever active in promoting the best in- 
terests of the town. By his diligence and perseverance he 
laid the foundation of a large business which has been suc- 
cessfully continued by his son and grandson to the present 
day, and which bears his name. 

As in the days of the Revolution the old powder-mill 
manufactured powder for the supply of the army, in later 
times, upon almost the same site, the Revere Copper Com- 
pany turned out brass fieldpieces for the use of the artillery 
during the War of the Rebellion. 



THE opening of the year 1776 brought little encourage- 
ment to the American provinces. The tone of the 
debates in Parliament were antagonistic. The hiring of 
German mercenaries to shoot Anglo-Americans at so much 
a day, the rejection of the petition prepared by the Conti- 
nental Congress, were matters which did not tend to appease 
the anger of our ancestors. Redress for past wrongs was 
no longer thought of ; a separation from the mother country 
was the only solution of their difficulties. Those who loved 
the House of Hanover, or feared the sword of Brunswick, 
threw aside their prejudices and joined the common cause. 

On the 2d of February, Capt. Abner Crane and Isaac 
Billings enlisted twenty-three men. Abner Crane was the 
son of Silas and Experience (Tolman) Crane, who are both 
buried in the same grave. He was born in Canton, May 27, 
1737, and died Jan. 23, 1819. He resided in the Royall 
house on Doty's Plain, and was a prominent man in town 
affairs. He was frequently chosen to preside over the an- 
nual town meetings. Captain Abner was out from Decem- 
ber, 1777, to October, 1778, in Rhode Island, in Colonel 
Jacobs' s regiment, and at another time he marched to Clav- 
erack on the Hudson with fifty-eight men. 

Capt. Asa Waters, who was born in Stoughton, Feb. 1 1, 
1760, entered the service at the age of sixteen. He says he 
was a soldier in Capt. Jedediah Southworth's company, 
Colonel Robertson's regiment, and was stationed at Dor- 
chester in February and March of 1776. He relates that 
they quartered in the Town-House on Meeting-House Hill; 
that they were sent to guard Fox Point and Roxbury; that 


Captain Southworth's company erected a fort on the night 
of the 25th of March, on what is now City Point, nearest 
Castle William, which was bombarded in the morning by 
the British, but no one was injured. They were on guard- 
duty until April, 1776, when they returned home. 

Captain Waters lived the latter part of his life in a house 
still standing on the old Bay Road, near to the colony 
line. I visited the house and saw the widow, a Revolu- 
tionary pensioner, in the summer of 1883. 

On the 29th of February Col. Benjamin Gill ordered the 
companies to be ready at a minute's warning to come 
together with three days' provisions, ready dressed. On 
the 3d of March the colonel received orders to alarm the 
people, and on the 4th Endicott's company went down. 
On the 22d of the same month Capt. Simeon Leach went 
with his company to guard the shores of Braintree, when 
the British ships-of-war lay in Boston Harbor; and on the 
following day Capt. Theophilus Lyon's company of forty- 
seven men joined them, in the midst of a severe snow- 
storm.^ Capt. Theophilus Lyon was the son of Elhanan 
and Hannah (Tilden) Lyon, grandson of old Elhanan, the 
man who was always in difficulty with the minister. The- 
ophilus resided in the Priest Howard house, and was the 
owner of a tan-yard on the north side of the bridge over 
Pequit Brook. He was born March 26, 1745, and was con- 
sequently at this time thirty-one years of age. Those who 
remained at home were equally active. Elijah Dunbar, on 
the 25th of March, attended a county meeting at Brown's 
in Milton. On the 4th of April the Committee of Corre- 
spondence and Inspection, consisting of Elijah Dunbar, Peter 
Talbot, Josiah Pratt, Theophilus Curtis, John Kenney, and 
Christopher Wadsworth, met at the May tavern ; again on the 
9th. On the 8th Esquire Dunbar went to a county conven- 
tion at Gay's tavern in Dedham ; on the loth came the report 
that Quebec was taken; on the nth he hastened to Boston 
to preserve the County Records, and received a promise from 
Mr. Goldthwait that he would remove them to his country- 
1 See Appendix XXI. 


seat. Persons were also appointed to receive rags for the 
paper-mill, as the province could no longer depend on the 
mother country for its paper. But the most difificult task 
was the obtaining of saltpetre. 

As gunpowder contains seventy-five per cent of saltpetre, 
the latter article became a great scarcity during the war ; 
and March 4, 1776, an article was inserted in the town war- 
rant "to see if the town will take any method to encour- 
age the manufacture of saltpetre; and it was voted that a 
committee be appointed to set up the making of that arti- 
cle." On the 1 8th of that month it was voted that Adam 
Blackman, Jonathan Capen, Esquire Dunbar, Samuel Os- 
good, and George Crosman be a committee to set up the 
making of " solt Peater " and keep an exact account of their 
charges. The sills of barns that yielded ammonia, at As- 
pinwall's, Hartwell's, Ruth Billings's, Aaron Wentworth's, 
were scraped carefully, and the ground in the immediate 
vicinity of decayed organic matter was dug over. 

Elijah Dunbar attacked this problem in deep earnest. 
He set tubs in his barn, filled them with water, and tended 
them; he boiled them and it "comes to but little;" he got 
dirt from under the house and set his leaches; he fetched 
apple-tree brush, and boiled down saltpetre. On the 6th 
of June Dunbar, Wheeler, and Blackman began to build 
a saltpetre house. On the 17th it was raised; bricks for 
the chimney were brought from Boston, and the boards were 
procured from May's saw-mill in Pequit valley ; but it was 
not until August or September that saltpetre was manu- 
factured with any degree of success. It is probable that 
this article was delivered at the powder-mill when ready 
for use. 

On May 13 the Committee of Correspondence met at 
Smith's tavern, and on the 17th a fast was held throughout 
the country. James Endicott went about soliciting cloth- 
ing for the soldiers; William Shaller visited each house to 
ascertain the number of male inhabitants capable of bearing 
arms; Lemuel Gay, William Bent, and Nathaniel Fisher 


distributed food to the families of the soldiers ; they urged 
upon all the people with whom they came in contact the 
necessity of supporting the war. Thus was public opinion 
wrought to such a pitch that when, on the 22d of May, 1776, 
the freeholders of Stoughton met at the old meeting-house, 
they voted "that if the Honorable Continental Congress 
should, for the safety of this Colony, declare us independ- 
ent of the Kingdom of Great Britain, we, the inhabitants, 
will solemnly engage with our lives and fortunes to support 
them in the measure. " 

Thus stands the record, — a brave, self-sacrificing record;, 
noble words to be followed by noble deeds ; words to be read 
by all men ; a record dear to those who look back one hun- 
dred years and recall the men who were willing to fight for 
liberty and independence; dear to all who in our ancient 
town enjoy to-day the benefits of the freedom which the 
fulfilment of this engagement achieved. 

On the day that these resolutions were passed, Benjamin 
Gill and Thomas Crane were chosen as Representatives to 
the General Court. The month was ended by all the young 
men going down to work at Castle William. 

On the 13th of June "all hands are preparing to go down 
and assist in driving y° ministerial ships out of the harbor." 
On the 14th the company under Captain Endicott, which 
formed a part of the regiment of Colonel Gill, marched to 
Moon Island.^ 

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was 
promulgated by the Continental Congress, at Philadelphia. 
On Lord's Day, August 18, it was publicly read from the 
pulpit of the old meeting-house by the Rev. Mr. Dunbar, 
and a copy was entered in the town record-book. Mr. 
Dunbar preached a sermon on the occasion, being then in 
the seventy-first year of his age, and had, save one year, 
completed a ministry of half a century. In this discourse 
we have an exponent of his own feelings, and undoubtedly 
the sentiment of the people of his parish and town. He 
said : — 

1 See Appendix XXI. 


" When George the Third had made his little finger heavier than 
his grandfather's loins, had been making unrighteous laws, taking away 
our charter, and altering fundamentally the forms of our government, 
and has been deaf to the many petitions we have addressed to him, 
and has treated them with disdain and neglect, with insult and injury, 
and as a true tyrant, has been, and is, using violent and bloody meas- 
ures to compel our submission and obedience to his, and his parlia- 
ment's laws, has been and is sending his ships of war to block up our 
harbors, intercept our trade, to destroy our seaport towns, and his 
armies of soldiers to waste and destroy our lives, and is at this time 
transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries, to complete the work 
of death, desolation, and tyrany, — by these and many other ways of 
oppression and tyrany has the King of Great Britain been giving way 
to his pride and cruelty, and has been exchanging whips for 

As he proceeded with the delivery of his discourse, the 
fires of patriotism warmed within him, and with all the force 
of his nature he declares the right of the people to free them- 
selves from the yoke of Gr?at Britain. He draws a parallel 
between the children of Israel and the colonies, and sustains 
the late action of the Continental Congress in dissolving 
the relation between themselves and Great Britain. Toward 
the end of his sermon he reads the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, and closes with a solemn exhortation. The patriotic 
preacher who uttered these words voluntarily relinquished 
one half his salary during the war, which he believed was 
not to be avoided save at the expense of honor. He entered 
vigorously into the shaping of public opinion; he gave to 
the sentiment of patriotism the sanction of religion. He 
exhorted his people to be brave and steadfast. He instilled 
into their hearts a love of liberty, regulated by law, with 
that untiring energy and indomitable perseverance for 
which the clergy of the period of the Revolution were so 
distinguished. Nor was it by word alone that he urged 
forward the good work; twenty years before he had seen 
service at Crown Point, and now, an old man, he went 
again as chaplain with one of the companies that marched 
to protect the fortifications, and for some time was sta- 


tioned at Meeting-House Hill in Dorchester. He was 
probably attached to the company of Capt. Jedediah South- 
worth. He may have been down earlier, for on August 3, 
177s, Mr. Dunbar baptized a child of Colonel Robinson 
at Cambridge. Perhaps this was the first child named for 
the father of his country, — George Washington. 

In order to encourage the enrolling of soldiers, the town 
voted, July 8, 1776, to pay to each of the thirty-eight men 
who should enlist for the Northern Department in the 
campaign against Quebec, the sum of ^6 6s. 8d., as an 
addition to their bounty. The persons whose names are 
hereafter mentioned offered each to pay for five men, that 
are going into, the service toward Quebec, their poll-tax for 
the above sum that was granted : Colonel Gill, Captain En- 
dicott, Samuel Tucker, Ezekiel Fisher, Captain Billings, 
Aaron Wentworth, Esquire Crane, Deacon Holmes, John 
Hartwell, John Withington, Captain Swan, William Shaller, 
Deacon Capen, Lieutenant Johnson. On the following day 
there was a training, and Captain Endicott enlisted a num- 
ber of men; on the i8th the alarm-list trained, and eight 
men were pressed. 

At a town meeting held July 22, there were only two 
articles in the warrant, the second of which was to see if 
the town will raise a sum of money for a further encourage- 
ment of the men that are to be raised for the expedition 
against Canada. It was voted to raise £6 6s. Zd. for each 
non-commissioned officer and soldier that shall enlist and 
march to join the army against Canada of the last two regi- 
ments that are to be raised by taking every twenty-fifth 
man, if it should fall to those that enlist out of this town 
to go to Canada ; but if they are to march to the works at 
or near Boston, then they are not to have said sum or any 
part thereof. 

On September 16 every fifth man under fifty years of age 
was drafted to go to New York. In July the furnace at 
Stoughtonham sent to the committee of supplies fifteen 
swivel-guns and nine hundred swivel-shot, which had .been 
manufactured there. In the fall the supply of coal be- 


came short. Within two miles of the furnace there was 
a large tract of wood, owned by Isaac Royall, Esq., Sir 
William Pepperell, and George Erving, Esq., —all Tories 
and refugees. Mr. Nathaniel Guild, at that time in charge 
of the furnace, petitions the General Court for leave to 
cut wood from this land, in order to make coal, so that 
the orders for the State and the orders of General Wash- 
ington for large quantities of military stores may be com- 
pleted. The court granted him liberty to cut wood not 
exceeding one hundred cords, belonging to the Loyalists 
before mentioned, and also granted sixteen of the men who 
were employed in the furnace immunity from military duty. 
This furnace was situated on the stream which flows from 
Walomolopog Pond into Narragansett Bay, and is now occu- 
pied by Jeremiah Holmes as a shingle-mill. 

At a town meeting held Sept. 30, 1776, it was voted that 
a committee be chosen to consider and act on the fourth 
article in the warrant; namely. To hear a resolve from the 
General Court sent to this town, relative to the formation of 
a new constitution within this State, and act thereon. It was 
voted that Messrs. John Kenney, Christopher Wadsworth, 
Jonathan Capen, Abner Crane, and Elijah Dunbar, Esq., be 
a committee to draft a vote and lay it before the town. That 
committee made the following report, which was ordered to 
be published in the newspapers of the day: — 

We, the subscribers, being chosen by this town at a town meeting 
legally assembled at Stoughton, on the 30th of Sept. last, a com- 
mittee to draft a vote upon an article in y° town warrant, respecting 
chosing y° present General Court, to form a plan of government for 
this State, have attended to that service and beg leave to report 
the following resolutions, viz. : — 

1. Resolved, That good government is the basis of liberty and abso- 
lutely necessary to the safety and welfare of a people. 

2. Resolved, That as the end of government is the happiness of the 
people, so the sole power and right of forming and establishing a plan 
thereof is essentially in the people. 

3. Resolved, That as this State is at present destitute of a fixed and 
established form of govemraent, it is absolutely necessary that one im- 


mediately be formed and established agreeable to the recommenda- 
tions of the Grand Congress. 

4. Resolved, That as the present House of Representatives have 
passed a resolve, to see if the several towns in this State would em- 
power them, the said House, together with the Council, to enact a 
plan of government for this State, it appears to us unadvisable and 
irrational, and a measure that ought not by any means to be complied 
with, for these reasons ; viz. that we are totally unacquainted with the 
capacities and patriotism and character of y° members that compose 
the said House of Council, excepting our own member ; also, because 
they were never elected by the people for that purpose, and also be- 
cause the present embarrassed state of our public affairs calls for the 
steady attention of every member of said House. 

5. Resolved, That it is the duty and interest of this town immedi- 
ately to choose one or more members to join with the members of the 
other towns in this State to form and publish a plan of government 
for said State. 

6. Resolved, That in order to carry -f foregoing resolutions into ex- 
ecution as soon as y' importance of the matter may admit, it appears 
to us best that the members of the several towns in each County in 
this State, chosen for y" express purpose aforesaid, should meet to- 
gether in County conventions, and when so met, should draft a form 
of government for the whole State. 

Then that the members of the several towns of this State should 
meet together by themselves, or by their Committee, in a State con- 
vention or Congress, and compare the several forms of government 
together, whereby the wisdom of the whole State may be collected 
and a form of government may be extracted. 

7. Resolved, That it appears to us absolutely necessary for the 
liberty and safety of this State that the plan of government, when 
formed and published, should not be established till the people of 
this State have had time and opportunity of thoroughly examining 
the same, and shall consent that it be established by the said State 
Convention or Congress. All of which is humbly submitted by us. 

Stoughton, Oct. 2, 1776. 

The town of Mendon voted to approve the resolves of the 
town of Stoughton relative to the manner of proceeding in 
forming a constitutional government. While these matters 
of state were being attended to at home. Col. Frederic Pope, 



who resided in Stoughton near the Bridgewater line, was far 
away, crossing the Delaware with Washington, and assisting 
at the capture of the Hessians. 

On the 'i8th of February, 1777, the question of filling 
the town quota for three years, or during the war, was dis- 
cussed in town meeting ; and it was voted that any person 
whether an inhabitant of the town or not, who should enlist 
before the sth of March should receive ;^i4 on passing 
muster. It was also voted that the town hire all the men re- 
quired to carry on the present war, but if there should be so 
sudden a call that the committee could not hire them, then 
the officers shall draft them. One month after, a com- 
mittee which had been appointed at a previous meeting of the 
town, March 2, for the express purpose of ascertaining what 
each man had done, over and above paying his customary 
tax, toward supporting and maintaining the present war, — 
either by going into the service, by hiring, or by fines, and to 
give due credit for the same, in order to make an equal bal- 
ance of duty, — make the following report: — 

"The committee, on their attending the above said perplexing ser- 
vice, endeavored impartially to act according to the best of their 
judgment, justly without fear or favor, and to perform the difficult and 
arduous task by passing the following votes, viz. : — 

" I. Voted, that each non-commissioned officer and private soldier 
now belonging to, and who went -from the town of Stoughton into 
eight months' service in the year 1775, be allowed and paid by the 
town treasurer £2, which small sum, upon mature deliberation, is 
ascertained to be an equivalent to the aforesaid service ; at same time 
acknowledging the voluntary service done by our brave and patriotic 
troops, at that juncture when y" country was in such a defenceless 
state, is praiseworthy and was attended in many instances with great 
danger. Yet considering they had a bounty of a cot and blanket, 
and that labor and the necessaries of hfe were much cheaper then than 
they have been since, and on account of their being near home, and 
having many privileges and advantages that troops in foreign and dis- 
tant service cannot possibly have, the committee think in justice they 
cannot be allowed any more than the above named sum. 

" 2. Voted, that each non-commissioned officer and private soldier 
who were in twelve months' service be allowed and paid by the town 


treasurer the sum of ;£'i6, which large sum, considering their having 
no bounty when they enhsted, and being obliged to press in uniform at 
their own expense, and on account of their long and tedious marches, 
their enduring the inclemencies of extreme heat and cold in different 
sections of the year, their many and hazardous battles, their frequent 
and disagreeable retreats, their loosing of packs and clothing, and 
finally their being obliged to expend almost all their wages for the 
comfortable support of life, the committee think in justice is no more 
than adequate to their incredible fatigues, and dangerous and hard 

" 3. Voted, that each non-commissioned ofificer and private soldier 
who were in the two months' service in February and March, the last 
year belonging as above said, be allowed and paid by the town treas- 
urer y° sum of £1, which sum the committee judge is an equivalent 
for said service, considering they had the advantage of being near 
home, although it is granted they had no bounty and that their duty 
was attended with fatigue and great danger on Dorchester Hills, and 
for that reason they are allowed the above said sum. 

" 4. Voted, that each non-commissioned ofificer and private soldier 
who were in the four months' service last year to Ticondaroga belong- 
ing as aforesaid, £1, 10, which sum is thought reasonable to be al- 
lowed to them on account of their long and tedious march in extreme 
hot weather, and their being obliged to carry their own baggage 
a considerable part of the way or leave it behind them, notwithstand- 
ing their having a large bounty of ;^I3 6, 8 for their going ; yet add- 
ing both together, the Committee think in justice they will be amply 
rewarded for that service. 

"5. Voted, that every 25th man being a non-commissioned ofBcer 
or private soldier, who was drafted by order of Council or voluntarily 
went into the service to make up that quota upon the lines near 
Boston for four months the last year, be allowed and paid by the 
Town Treasurer the sum of £4., on account of their wages not being 
equal to what they could get at home, which sum is estimated to be an 
equivalent for that service by the committee, and those who paid their 
money for that service be allowed the sums they actually paid. 

"6. Voted, that those persons that were drafted by order of y° Gen- 
eral Court to go to Horse-neck or New York, not being military offi- 
cers, that went in person, that hired or paid their fines, be allowed and 
paid by the town treasurer the sum of ;£'io each, in consideration that 
men could not be procured under that sum at that time for some 


cause or other, and as fines and hiring with the same sum is voted by 
the town to be allowed, the committee in justice estimate personal 
service in the same campaign to be equal to those that paid their 

" 7. Voted, that those persons drafted for the last three months' 
campaign be allowed and paid as aforesaid ;£'io for the reasons last 

" 8. Voted, that the Captains and Lieutenants who were in y*" twelve 
months' service in the year last past, belonging to the town, be allowed 
and paid ijy the town treasurer, to each of them, ;^io on account 
of their great expenses, their good services, their many fatigues and 
dangerous enterprises they have necessarily and unavoidably been 
called to in course of the last year. 

" 9. Voted, that those Ensigns who were in y° twelve months' service, 
belonging as aforesaid, be allowed and paid ;^i2 each, in considera- 
tion of the aforementioned reasons, and on account of their wages 
being small in proportion to their expenses. 

" 10. Voted, that the Captains and Lieutenants in the eight months' 
service in 1775, belonging as aforesaid, be allowed and paid £1, 10 
each, which sum is allowed in consideration of their patriotic and 
good services. 

"11. Voted, that y° Ensigns in last mentioned service belonging 
as aforesaid, be allowed and paid £2 each, in consideration of the 
last mentioned reasons, and on account that their pay was then 
very small. 

"12. Voted, that the Captains and Lieutenants in y° two months' 
service in February and March, be allowed and paid ;^o, 15 each, on 
account of their extraordinary danger on Dorchester Hills, and to the 
Ensign in that service for y° aforesaid reason and small pay, ;£i. 

" 13. Voted, that the Captain who went to Ticonderoga the last year 
be allowed and paid ;£'io, in consideration of his answering for on? of 
the town quota of men, and on account of his leaving his business, 
having no bounty, his long march, and extraordinary expenses ; and 
the Ensigns in that service ;^i2 each, for the aforesaid reasons and 
small pay. 

" 14. Voted, that the Captain, Lieutenant, and Surgeon who went to 
New York in the two month's campaign, be allowed and paid ^j, 10 
each, for the aforesaid reasons. 

"15. Voted, that the Lieutenant to New York for three months 
for the above reasons be allowed and paid £y, 10. 


" i6. Voted, that those who went on alarms to Bunker Hill and Wey- 
mouth be allowed and paid ;£o, 6 each, for each service, on account 
of their having no pay allowed them by the Court. 

"17. Voted, that none of the aforesaid sums be paid to any person 
unless to those who are taxed and shall pay their proportion to the 
rate now immediately to be collected for y'= purpose of making an 
equal balance of duty in this town respecting the burden expenses of 
the present war, excepting the heirs of y" deceased who have done 
duty in the war ; and this last vote was passed in consideration that 
a number of men are now enlisted who can not be obliged to pay the 
tax. All of which is submitted, &c." 

The town at its May meeting chose Thomas Crane as its 
Representative, but desired to go on record as standing by 
its former resolutions, and desired that its Representative 
should take no part in forming a plan of government. 

The scarcity of salt throughout the country had impelled 
the people to take active measures to obtain a supply. On 
the 2 1st of May, 1777, a committee, consisting of James 
Hawkes Lewis, Adam Blackman, and Deacon Capen, were 
appointed by the town, to manufacture salt and " make trial 
as soon as possible." They visited Squantum, leased a piece 
of land of Joseph Beale, procured bricks, timber, etc., and 
in August began operations. For the next eighteen months, 
wood was carted from Stoughton to the landing at Milton, 
and was there measured by Phineas Pain, transferred to 
lighters, and floated down the Neponset River to Squantum ; 
the salt-house was built where the improved sewer leaves the 
mainland for Moon Island. When the salt was ready, it was 
brought up to Stoughton in barrels or hogsheads. During 
1779 the committee paid out ;^958 igs. 4d. and received 
;£'929 13J. 4d. In 1783 the kettles, pails, trays, baskets, 
etc., were brought back to Stoughton, and sold at auction 
at the house of Lieut. Robert Capen. 

Nov. 3, 1777, the second article in the warrant was "to 
see if the town will choose a committee to provide for the 
families of those who are now in the Continental service." 
It was "voted that John Withington, Peter Talbot, James 
Endicott, Recompence Wadsworth, and Elijah Dunbar be 


a committee to provide for the families of them that are in 
the Continental service, agreeable to a Resolve of the General 

The following is the report of the committee chosen to 
examine the accounts of the Committee of Supplies : • — 

Stoughton, March 12, 1778. 
We, y" subscribers, being chosen a committee to examine the ac- 
counts of the committee of supplies of y' town, have this day attended 
that service ; and beg leave to report that said committee have opened 
accounts with the families of the Continental soldiers, and have fairly 
and accurately set down their receivings and payings out ; and upon 
adjusting the accounts we find that they have received of y" Continen- 
tal families and of the town y" sum of _;^i83, 17, and have delivered 
out to said families to y° amount of ;^i32, 4, 2, 2, so that there re- 
mains in said committee's hands y" value of jQs^> 12, g, 2, vs'hich we 
find consists in the following articles, viz., corn, nine bushels valued 
at ;^g, 18, and 533 1-2 of pork, which together with y salt to salt 
y' same, y° expense of bringing it from Boston, and a pail to put y' 
hog's fat in, amounts to .^41, 14, 8, so that there remains in said com- 
mittee's hands ;^o, i, 2, — all which is submitted by us. 

Sam'l Blackman, 
Benj. Gill, 
Robert Swan, 


During the year 1777, the Committee of Correspondence, 
which consisted of James Hawkes Lewis, John Withington, 
Isaiah Johnson, Capt. Abner Crane, and Capt. Samuel Payson, 
met frequently at May's tavern, at Smith's tavern, at Noyes's 
in Sharon, and at Johnson's, to regulate the prices of goods, 
and to ascertain what was being done to carry on the war. 
They were also raising men to go to Rhode Island, hiring 
men, and paying them with hired money ; trainings were con- 
stantly taking place. On the 31st of July Colonel Gill 
set off, his troops having started on the 27th; on the 28th 
of October they were heard from. Burgoyne had met them, 
and they had captured him; and a number of the citizens 
rejoiced at Stone's over the glad tidings. 

During 1775 the Continental currency remained nearly at 


par. In 1777 it was at a discount of fifty per cent, or, as we 
should say, gold had risen to two hundred. In 1778 specie 
was worth four times as much as paper, and at the end of 
the year 1779, forty times as much. The following bill will 
.show the depreciation of the currency in 1780: — 

The Town of Stoughton to James Endicott, D'. For providing for 
Elijah Lyons family at y= stated price, agreeable to an agreement 
made by the Committee chosen by y'' town to hire all draughts of 

Current Price. Stated Price. 

To ^ lb of Flax £0 6 6 ;£o o 1 1 

" " bushel of rye ....300 030 

" 2 lbs shugar 180 020 

" I " cofiea 0180 020 

" X " Tea 2140 03 o 

" Z}i " Shugar 3 10 o 036 

"63 " Beef @ 8/6 pr lb . . 27 12 6 118 

" 10 " Veal @ 12/ " " . . 6 00 03 4 

" I bushel potatos ....300 020 

" 4 lbs shugar 440 040 

" X lb Tea 33 o 03 o 

" lyi bush Corn 060 

" 69 lbs beef @ 13/ pr lb. . . 44 17 o 130 

;^ioo 13 o ;£3 17 S 

Stoughton, Feb. 23, 1780. 

A true account, errors excepted. 

James Endicott. 




THE Loyalists, usually denominated Tories, were not 
numerous in Canton. Some attention was paid to 
them as early as 1775. On the 9th of April, 1776, the Com- 
mittee of Correspondence and the selectmen met and agreed 
"to vandue" the Inman place. Again, on the 13th, they 
met at the May tavern, and spent the afternoon drawing 
leases for the Inman farm, which would imply that the place 
had been sold or leased. Ralph Inman was a prominent 
Tory. He resided at Cambridge. His wife, the widow 
of James Smith, of Milton, brought him a large property, a 
part of which was the Robbins estate on Brush Hill, where 
in the ancient mansion may still be seen her portrait painted 
by Copley. Whether the patriots were successful in confis- 
cating the property in Canton I know not, but Inman's place 
was taxed during the Revolution " to the committee of one 

On the 13th of May, 1776, the Committee of Corre- 
spondence met at Smith's tavern "to take cognizance of 
those that have been unfriendly to the country." On June 3, 
they met at Sprague's " to take some order with those who 
refuse to sign the test act." 

In 1777 an Act of the General Court obliged the selectmen 
" to present the names of all those who were unfriendly to 
the common cause, and had endeavored since the nineteenth 
of April, 1775, to counteract the united struggles of this, and 
the United States for the preservation of their liberties and 
privileges." Six only were found ; namely, William Curtis, 
Noah Kingsbury, Samuel Capen, Henry Crane, Edward 
Shale, and Edward Taylor. William Curtis was an East 



Stoughton man. Noah Kingsbury was an Episcopalian, and 
paid his ministerial rates to St. Paul's, Dedham. Samuel 
Capen was not the Canton man of that name, but was the 
son of Jonathan and Jerusha (Talbot) Capen ; he was born 
in Dorchester, and died in Stoughton, April 15, 1801. Henry 
Crane was the son of William and Abigail (Puffer) Crane; 
he was born May 6, 1719, and married Abigail Lyon, Nov. 
29, 1744. He was a warden of the English Church, and 
its constant friend and supporter. He died Jan. 4, 1804. 
Edward Shale lived in the Bet Everton house at the time 
of the Revolution; he was married to Elizabeth Kilpatrick, 
of Milton, in 1753; he died April 30, 1784. He had a son 
Edward, who was born Oct. 20, 1754, married in November, 
1776, and was in the patriot army. Old Betty Shale lived in 
the old house until April 23, 1833, when she died in the 
seventy-sixth year of her age, and so utterly alone that she 
had no one to follow her to her grave. 

There still stands near the corner of Washington and 
Green Lodge streets, in the village of Ponkapoag, a very 
ancient building, now a barn. It was once a house, and 
occupied by Lemuel French, who was born May 16, 1770, 
and died Feb. 8, 1809. He married Mary Bailey, sister 
of John Bailey, our Representative to Congress, and in this 
house his children were born. One of them, George, born 
on July 19, 1799, was a man who possessed a wonderful in- 
ventive talent, combined with great literary ability. Under 
date of March 20, 1826, he writes to a friend : — 

" I have not yet made your telescope ; but do you doubt my ability 
to do it? Since I saw you I have made two — one a Newtonian of 
twelve inch, and the other of twenty-two — on the principle recom- 
mended by Burkhardt. Had I a good sheet of brass, I should have 
completed one for you before this time. But I have begun, and a 
great undertaking it is, — a Newtonian of seven feet." 

During the Revolution this was known as the old Tory House, 
and in it resided Edward Taylor, a native of Scotland, the 
worst of all the Canton Tories. So violent was he that when 


the minute-men passed through Ponkapoag, on the Lexing- 
ton alarm, they seized him, stuffed his gun full of mud, made 
him march into Boston with them, and then put him in the 

John Kenney, Esq., was appointed by the town to obtain 
evidence against the Tories. In regard to five, no action 
appears to have been taken, but Edward Taylor was so 
obnoxious that Kenney determined to have him arrested. 
Taylor, ascertaining the situation of affairs, declared that 
he would not be taken alive. He made a great dis- 
play of fire-arms, and it was asserted that he had no less 
than seven guns in his house at one time ; and when he went 
into the village he was a walking arsenal. Accordingly, Mr. 
Kenney procured the assistance of Squire Tudor, who had 
been judge advocate in the Continental army, came to 
Stoughton, put up at the old May tavern, and in three 
■days, having obtained sufficient evidence, ordered, as the 
town's attorney, the arrest of Taylor. He was arrested at 
midnight, and after a vigorous resistance, conveyed into 
Boston and confined in the guard-house. 

The first anniversary of July 4 was celebrated in 1777 by 
the trial of the Tories, and the matter evidently ended. 

The following year the General Court passed the Aliena- 
tion Act. The property of some of the Tories was confiscated ; 
some fled the country, and became wanderers, outcasts, and 
■exiles. Edward Taylor was allowed to return to Ponkapoag, 
and end his days in peace. 

I have conversed with persons who remember seeing Tay- 
lor, an old man tottering about the streets of Ponkapoag 
village. He used to walk to the site of the English Church, 
and sitting upon the greensward, meditate upon the days 
gone by. The graves about him were those of the friends 
and companions of other days, ere the pain of separation 
from the mother country had embittered his life and estranged 
his friendships. He was indeed " the last leaf on the tree," 
and in this sacred enclosure, with other faithful followers of 
the king on the 15th of October, 1793, having completed 
seventy-nine years of life, his body was consigned to its 
final resting-place. 


The opinion of the voters in regard to LoyaHsts was clearly- 
set forth in the instructions given to their representative 
May i6, 1783: — 

" Whereas, we have reason to believe that this year every effort will 
be made for return to their position, of that abandoned set of men 
very justly described by the laws of this Commonwealth, conspirators 
and absentees who voluntarily, at the beginning of the war, not only 
deserted their countries cause, but have aided and assisted the enemy 
with their counsels and money, and many of them with their personal 
services, most inhumanly murdering innocent women and children, — 
therefore, we instruct you to attend the General Court constantly, and 
to use your utmost exertions, that they and every one of them be for- 
ever excluded and barred from having lot or portion amongst us ; and 
that the estate they formerly possessed, and have justly forfeited, may 
be immediately sold, and the money arising therefrom be applied to 
the discharge of our public debt, and that such of them as have un- 
warily crept in among us may be immediately and forever removed 
out of this Commonwealth." 

One man, after the space of threescore years, here again 
touches our history, — Samuel Danforth, Esq., who in early 
manhood was one of the proprietors of the first grist-mill in 
Canton. Since that time he had been high in office, was 
judge of probate, and, in 1774, was appointed a mandamus 
councillor, and took the oath, but was obliged publicly to 
relinquish his office on the steps of the Court-House at 
Cambridge, in the presence of a multitude assembled to 
witness his recantation. This discipline had its effect. In 
the following letter, written to his brother-in-law, the pastor 
of our old church, he speaks of the British as " the enemy." 

Boston, May 9, 1777. 

Rev° & Dear Sir, — Many years have elapsed since I had the 
pleasure of seeing and conversing with you, altho' it be not long since 
I heard of your good state of health by my cousin Mr Elijah Dunbar. 
I presume your visits to Boston are but rare, and more so to Cam- 
bridge, else I should have seen you, — not doubting but our old mutual 
friendship and quondam connections would ha\-e prompted you to 
call at my lodgings. My advanced age has more lately prevented my 


riding out to visit my friends who live at any distance from me, 
Altho' I enjoy (thro' Divine Favour) a comfortable degree of health. 

Here follows a passage already quoted on page 202. The 
letter continues : — 

And as, in case Boston should be invaded, I purpose to move with 
my daughter into the country, and to take a room in some house to 
ourselves, but to board with the family until the siege is over, I 
would therefore gladly know whether in such case you could possibly 
accomodate me with one room, whether chamber or lower room, in 
your house. If this meets, you will lay me under the greatest obliga- 
tions to you, and I will make you all reasonable satisfaction therefor. 
In the mean time I rest Your loving brother & humble servant, 

Samuel Danforth. 
The Rev° Mr Samuel Dunbar. 

Please give my compliments to your spouse and Cousin Elijah, and 
tell him that we will boyl the Black Cats head, for it was never more 

Boston was not invaded, and Mr. Danforth with his trunks 
was not disturbed by the avengers of the cause he had 
forsworn ; but a more relentless enemy seized him, and five 
months after this letter was written, he died, in the eighty- 
first year of his age. 

In February, 1778, Col. Benjamin Gill and Elijah Dunbar 
went into Boston to get three soldiers for the town. In the 
afternoon they went to Cambridge, and saw General Burgoyne. 
On the 7th, three more soldiers were procured. On March 
12, the accounts of the Committee of Supplies were examined, 
and beef was procured to fill the requisition on the town. 
April was a busy month : the committee on the Constitution 
met on the ist; on the 2d, the town meeting used up the 
day; on the 3d, and again on the 7th, the selectmen sat all 
day at Smith's tavern; on the 9th, Elijah Dunbar went 
down to Squantum to see the condition of the salt-works; 
on the 14th, a county conference was held at Dedham, still 
harping on the Constitution; on the 15th, an account of the 
wood delivered for the salt-works had to be taken, as it lay 


on the landing at Milton; on the 20th, the selectmen de- 
sired Mr. Dunbar to attend a meeting of the proprietors of 
the common land at Dorchester ; on the 27th, another town 
meeting was held, and delegates chosen to a county conven- 
tion, to be held the next day at Dedham, and Mr. Dunbar 
attended. He also attended this month to the letting of the 
church land, and to a quarrel between Swift and Capen, at 

On May 16, the committee of thirteen who had been 
chosen at the March meeting to take into consideration the 
Constitution, proposed by the State Convention of February 
28, made the following report. Their sentiments seem to 
have been shared by a majority of the inhabitants of the 
Commonwealth, as the draft was rejected by the people : 

The committee appointed by y° town of Stoughton, at y° last March 
meeting, to take under consideration, and examine for and in behalf 
of said town, y' constitution and form of government for y^ State of 
Massachusetts Bay agreed upon by y° convention of said State, Feb- 
ruary y" 28th, 1778, to be laid before the several towns and plantations 
in said State, for their approbation or disapprobation, beg leave to 
report, — 

That your committee have with candor and fidelity examined y° 
contents of y° above said constitution; and from a full conviction 
that y' same is deficient, absurd, unintelligible, unequal, embarrassed, 
and oppressive in many parts, and y" whole incompetent with y° safety 
and happiness of y" people, therefore your committee are of opinion, 
upon mature deliberation, that this town ought unanimously to dis- 
approve of y" above said constitution or form of government for y? 
above said reasons, which your committee will now attempt to eluci- 
date in y* following manner : — 

I St. It is' deficient, because destitute of a Bill of Rights to secure 
the liberties of y= people from y" tyranny of their legislators. It is 
likewise deficient, because no provision is made to prevent bribery in 
y choice of legislators, and in y" appointment of other servants of y° 

2d. We object to y= mode of forming y constitution as absurd and 
subversive of the first principles of common prudence and republican 
policy; for it is stupid, and y" precedent extremely dangerous, to 
allow usurpers and others in power to set bounds to their own power. 


y' lust of which is never satisfied without robbing y' people of those 
unalienable Rights that y= late unprecedented State convention took 
great care not to mention in -f proposed constitution now under con- 
sideration. Furthermore, the method of altering y"^ constitution, if 
established, is absurd, and unintelligible to many, for it may be estab- 
lished by two-thirds of y' voters present at y= several town meetings 
within y= State held for that purpose ; but it shall not be altered after- 
wards unless two-thirds of y' inhabitants direct y' same. 

3d. We object to y' 6th article, because representation is so very 

4th. We object to y" 9th Article as an embarrassed and absurd 
mode of electing the Senate ; for as y" people at large are to vote for 
all y' Senators in every part of y' State, then must y' greater part of 
them act (if they act at all) blindfold in their choice, not knowing 
any better who are fit for Senators than they do who are fit for Select- 
men in remote towns in y° State ; and they are totally and equally 
disqualified to vote for either. 

We object to y' 14th and 15th Articles, wherein too small a ma- 
jority in each House is to be a quorum, and where by a power is 
lodged in five of y° Senate to nonconcur any bill or resolve of y° 
House of Representatives. 

We likewise object to y* 19th Article, as a confused, absurd, and 
embarrassed mode of choosing salary officers, as each branch of y" 
legislature are to have a right to originate or negative y° choice, — it 
having a tendency to promote contentions and bribery with all y= scan- 
dalous train of evils attendant thereon. We also disapprove of y'= ex- 
orbitant power vested in jr° Governor and Senate, of appointing all 
civil and military officers as an infringement on the rights of the peo- 
ple ; for there is as much propriety in lodging a power with y'' Governor 
and Senate, for them to choose y° general assembly, as all civil and 
military officers, — for we can,see no reason why y" common people 
are not as capable of choosing y° latter as y*" former. 

5th. We object to y° 20th Article as dangerous and oppressive, 
wherein y' Governor and Senate are to be a court for y trial of all 
impeachments of any officers in y° State ; and y' power of impeach- 
ing all officers of y° State for male conduct, in their respective offices, 
is vested in y" House of Representatives, which power renders y" 
safety of y* people very precarious, and subjects them to suffer and 
groan under y° tyranny of male administration, without having y" least 
power, or even y° most distant hope of freeing or relieving themselves, 
only by force of arms. 


We also disapprove and condemn y" 32d Article as oppressive and 
intolerable, whereby all the common law, and all such grades of the 
British Statute Laws, as have been adopted and usually practised 
in y" courts of law in this State, shall still remain, and be inforced 
until altered, &c., which Article approbates the execrable Law-Trade 
with all y° destructive evils attendant thereon, and as this is ingrafted 
into y' constitution, and so cannot be altered in future, unless it shall 
be voted by two-thirds of y° inhabitants, it is big with evils, destruc- 
tive of, and fatal to y° happiness of y° people. 

To conclude, your committee have not time to point out all y' de- 
fects of y° constitution ; yet thus much they would observe upon 
y° whole, that altho some parts of it may be safely adopted by y° 
people, if properly introduced into a constitution properly formed by 
a convention of y° State, chosen for that special purpose, neverthe- 
less, we cannot but esteem y° whole as offered to us in y' lump to be 
an illconcerted scheme, not calculated to secure to the people those 
rights and liberties that ought to be as dear to them as their lives. 

All which is submitted to the town by their committee. 

Elijah Dunbar, Peter Talbot, John Kenny, Jedediah Southworth, 
Adam Blackman, VVm. Wheeler, Sam'l Shepard, Sam'l Talbot, Na- 
thaniel Fisher, Geo. Grossman, Committee. 

Stoughton, May iz, 1778. 

At a town meeting. May 28, 1778, the town voted the 
following instructions to their Representative to the General 
Court : — 

To Thomas Crane, Esq. : 

Sir, — The Town of Stoughton having made choice of you to repre- 
sent them in a Great and General Court y= ensuing year, it must be 
agreeable to you, if you consider yourself y' servant of y= Town, and 
accountable to them as you really are, to know y' minds of your con- 
stituents respecting y= important duties of your station, who have 
chosen you to act for their safety and happiness, as connected with 
y^ whole and not for your own Private emolument or separate interest ; 
therefore y'' Town think fit to give you the following instructions : 

You are by no means to vote for any person belonging to the 
following orders of men to have a seat in y= Legislative Council, but 
use your influence to have them excluded (viz.) : the members of -f 
Continental Congress and officers holding commissions under them. 
Judges of y'= Superior Courts of Common Pleas, Judges of y= Maritime 


Courts, Judges of Probate, Registers of Probate, Sheriffs, Members of 
y' Board of War, and all executive officers who have a fixed annual 
stipend. As soon as y" two Branches of the Legislature are settled 
and properly organized, your primary object must be the prosecution 
of y° war with spirit and vigor, with a view to bring it to a speedy and 
honorable issue. For this purpose you are directed to exert yourself 
to have y"^ Continental Army completed in y= most expeditious manner, 
and see that negligent towns and delinquent officers are punished 
according to Law, in that case made and provided, and also you are 
to vote for such large and speedy supphes as may appear to you 
necessary to enable y' Commander in Chief of our Armies to answer 
the expectations of his country, that the war if possible may be ended 
the ensuing Campaign with immortal honor to himself, and permanent 
glory and security to y° United States of America. On motion made, 
y* Town voted y° following amendment to y° instruction (viz.) : that 
y^ Representative use his influence that whenever men are called for, 
that y" Capt. for hireing said men shall be paid by y" State. You are 
to move for and promote an enquiry to know what has become of 
y° clothing provided by the State for their own troops in y' Continen- 
tal Army, and who are to blame (for blame there is) that the same 
has not yet been delivered to y" soldiers agreeable to y° promise of 
y" public, that delinquents may be punished for their mall conduct 
and negligence. Likewise, you are to endeavor to prevent future 
delays of y° like nature, by promoting frequent enquiries into y° con- 
duct of those who are appointed to provide and deliver clothing and 
other supphes for f use of y" Army, — and also all grievances that 
our soldiers have or do now suffer by Publick or private wrongs, be 
speedily and effectually redressed ; you are instructed to use your 
best endeavors that members of the General Court be not unnecessarily 
charged with the transaction of business, that can be as well or better 
done by suitable persons not belonging to the same, and who may be 
appointed for such purposes ; and that all persons intrusted by y" Gen- 
eral Court with business of any kind, to do from time to time 
render an account of their conduct, that where any are unfaithful that 
they be displaced without favor or affection, so that y' unfaithful be 
punished, and the upright servants of Government be rewarded ; for 
where faithful servants of Government are not rewarded and the 
villains of y^ publick punished, no man of integrity will ever choose 
to accept a trust, and y' State must be Governed by weak or wicked 
men. You are, on the other hand, to avoid such parsimony as to 
discourage worthy men from engaging in y" publick service, and on 


y° other hand, such a profusion as to enourage men to fleece y' pub- 
lic and to wriggle themselves into places of profit and honor. You are 
furthermore instructed to move for and promote an enquiry into the 
conduct of the board of War, whether they have acted for y' safety 
and interest of y° State with prudence, fidelity, and dispatch, and 
have expended y" publick monies and stores for no other than y° pub- 
lick use. Likewise, you are to move for and promote an enquiry into 
the Managers or Superintendents of the Powder Mills belonging to, 
and the property of this State, to see whether y" monies they have 
received from time to time out of the Treasury of the state have been 
properly applied, and only for the publick benefit, — whether they are 
indebted to y" State or the State to them, — whether they have em- 
ployed faithful and skillful workmen, and whether y° powder manu- 
factured at each Powder Mill is good, and may be safely depended 
on for the defense of y'' State. You are expressly directed firmly and 
heartily to oppose the establishment of the proposed Constitution, 
even if two-thirds of the Inhabitants voting in Town Meeting do 
approve of it, because deficient in many parts, and y" whole inconsist- 
ant with y' safety and happiness of y' publick, having no Bill of 
Rights for its foundation ; and because it never can be altered, unless 
two-thirds of all the Inhabitants of y° State direct the same ; and also 
because near a hundred towns in y° State were unpresented in y' Con- 
vention that formed it, and this Town for one among the rest. More- 
over, you are directed to transmit to your constituents y° names of 
y* Towns who shall vote for, and those who vote against, y proposed 
Constitution, together with y'= number of persons so voting in each 
Town, and also the names of y' Towns who do not vote upon it at all. 
Furthermore, you are enjoined to move for and strenuously urge that 
a Resolve be passed in y° General Court, and sent out to the several 
Towns in the State, recommending it to them to choose Delegates to 
sit in a State Convention for the sole purpose of forming a Constitu- 
tion, and when formed, transmitted to each town for their approbation 
or disapprobation, or for their alteration or amendment. Previous to 
this, you are to endeavor that a day be set apart for fasting and prayer, 
to look to y= Supreme Governor of y' world that the people may be 
directed by Him in y' formation of a Constitution, so that their rights 
may be secured with those blessings and benefits produced by a good 
Government. You are particularly instructed to use your utmost 
endeavor that every measure be pursued for promoting of virtue and 
piety, and for supressing of vice and immorality, especially Sabbath 
breaking, profane cursing and swearing, and the destructive practice 


of setting up Dram Shops, Tippling Houses, without approbation or 

You are directed steadily to attend the sessions of y" General 
Court, and not absent yourself on private business, unless in case of 
extreme necessity, and you are on no terras to accept of any ofifice 
of honor or profit while you are the Representative of y^ Town with- 
out y° approbation of your constituents, in order that you may be 
influenced by no motive only by that of serving y" publick ; that 
you may be always thus influenced, it is agreeable to y° earnest 
wishes and prayers of your constituents. 

These instructions were published in the " Continental 
Journal" of June i8, 1778. 




CAPTAIN WILLIAM BENT was the son of Joseph 
Bent, first of the name in Milton, and was baptized 
in that town, November, 1737. He married Chloe, daughter 
of George and Thankful (Redman) Blackman, Nov. 24, 1763 ; 
it is probablft that he soon afterward took up his residence 
in Canton. At the time of the Lexington alarm, William 
Bent was ordered to assemble with the company of Capt. 
Asahel Smith, of which he was a member. It was near 
his usual hour of dining, and a dish of which he was 
extravagantly fond — fried smelts — was being prepared. 
So great was the excitement among the members of his 
household when the order to march was received, that they 
urged him to proceed directly on his way, which he did with 
the loss of his dinner. Bent remained with his company but 
a few days, when he obtained leave of absence and returned 
home, and at once recruited a company, which marched on 
the 27th day of April, and was sent to Roxbury, and attacheB 
to General Heath's regiment. The company was stationed 
at one time at Squantum, to protect the inhabitants of the 
seaboard from the attacks of British troops. Captain Bent 
was soon ordered to Cambridge. In October, 1775, he was 
captain in the Thirty-sixth Regiment of foot in the Conti- 
nental army. It was doubtless soon after this time that 
he went to Canada, as stated by his son, by the way of 
New York, and returned home in 1776. During the war 
his name appears on various important committees, and he 
was active in promoting the best interests of the town. He 
died Oct. 17, 1806, and his wife died March 12, 1820, aged 
eighty. They are buried in the Proprietors' ground. 


Col. Benjamin Gill, to whom reference has frequently been 
made in these pages, was the son of Benjamin and Abigail 
(Fisher) Gill, and was born in Canton, June 2, 1730, and 
died April 23, 1807. His early life was passed upon his 
father's farm, on Pleasant Street. At the age of twenty-two 
he sought in marriage Bethiah Wentworth. It would appear 
that this young woman had allowed a swain named Liscom 
to place upon her hand a ring. The rivals met one evening, 
at the house of the innocent cause of this rivalry, which stood 
near what is now the Stoughton Turnpike, and each urged 
persistently his suit Gill said, in reply to her expressed fear 
that he did not love her warmly, — 

" Bethiah, I love you as I do my life. 
And always intended to make you my wife.'' 

The truth, or the poetry, of this sentiment had a convincing 
effect upon the heart of the maid, and drawing the ring from 
her finger, she returned it to Liscom. On Jan. 9, 1752, Gill 
placed another ring on her finger. Colonel Gill appears to 
have been actively engaged in all matters pertaining to the 
welfare of the town or the church. He was chosen deacon 
of the latter in 1 768 ; he was a selectman, often moderator, 
and in 1776, represented our town in the General Court. In 
1766, he received his commission as lieutenant in the militia; 
in 1773, that of captain; on the 17th of November, 1774, he 
was elected lieutenant-colonel of Lemuel Robinson's regiment. 
In 1775, soon after the breaking out of the Revolutionary 
War, he was promoted to colonel, and was thereby the highest 
in military rank in the town. The officers of his regiment 
were sworn in at Colonel Doty's tavern, April 25, 1776. 
Having been placed in command of a regiment, he marched 
with a detachment to guard the mouth of Milton River. 
In December, 1776, he was at the lines near Boston. On 
the 31st of August, 1777, he left Canton, and on October 17 
of the same year, at the head of his regiment, saw the sur- 
render of Burgoyne. He returned to his home, and on 
Christmas Day gave a grand dinner at his house to the 
officers of hi.-i regiment, to which the principal men of our 


town were invited. When not absent on service, he served 
during the war on various town committees of importance. 
He was one of the petitioners for a division of the town 
in 1796. 

After the surrender of Burgoyne in October, 1777, a free 
passage was granted to the troops to return to Great Britain, 
on condition that they should not again serve against this 
country. Many of the troops belonging to the Prince of 
Hesse-Cassel, while under guard at Cambridge, deserted, 
and some of them settled in Canton, — James Turnpr, Wil- 
liam Hall, and James Barrows being among the number; and 
John Karts, who married Chloe Wood, Nov. 26, 1778. 

Among others who went into the service of their country 
was William McKendry, who was the son of John and Mary 
(Tolman) McKendry, and was baptized in Canton, May 19, 
175 1, and died Aug. 23, 1798. He married Ruth Tucker, 
of Milton, Dec. 15, 1785, who survived him. She died 
March 19, 1806. " Her death was occasioned by her clothes 
taking fire as she sat by the fireplace asleep in the evening." 
He left no children, and Capt. William McKendry, Sr., of 
Ponkapoag, was heir to his property. He was quartermaster 
in Colonel Brooks's regiment in 178 1, and at the close of the 
war, one of the original founders of the Society of the Cin- 
cinnati. He was wont to imagine himself in service after the 
war had ended ; he would in fancy form his regiment in line 
near Pequit Brook, ride to the house of his old colonel, give 
the proper salute, and return to his home; he also had a 
park of artillery, over which he kept guard. Once on Boston 
Common, when the troops were in line, he rode furiously 
down the line, gave an order which disarranged the whole 
plan, and rode home as fast as his horse could carry him. 
From a diary written by Lieut. William McKendry, we learn 
that on Feb. 19, 1778, he was at Albany with the troops 
which on that day were reviewed by General Lafayette. He 
records that on May 30, Captain Patrick, with a number of 
troops from Alden's regiment, attacked a number of Indians 
commanded by Brant, at a place called Cobleskill, fifty-nine 
miles southwest from Albany. Capt. William Patrick was a 


tailor; on Nov. 16, 1768, he married Deborah Smith, of 
Dedham. The year following he came to Canton, and in 
1770 purchased land from Joseph Esty; on the 25th of July 
he raised his house. This house was added to the Amariah 
Blake house as an L in 1820; here it remained during my 
memory. The well-house is still standing. When Mr. G. F. 
H. Horton built his house, he took the Blake house for an 
annex, and used the Patrick part for a paint-shop and smalt 
manufactory; so that the original house is still preserved. 
In this house were born to Patrick and his wife five chil- 
dren, — Andrew, 1770; Phineas, 1772; Catharine, 1774; Polly, 
1776 ; William, July, 1778 (a posthumous child). These chil- 
dren all lived to reach the age of twenty-one. The mother 
died July 19, 18 16, aged seventy-four years, and her grave- 
stone is still to be seen in the Canton Cemetery. The orig- 
inal name was Kilpatrick, and in the list of the minute-men 
who marched in Capt. Asahel Smith's company at the alarm, 
April 19, 1775, from Stoughton, we find, as one of the ser- 
geants, William Kilpatrick. We have his autograph signed 
in 1777 as William Patrick. Of his career in the army, we 
know but little. He was at one time captured by the enemy 
and carried to Canada, and in due time exchanged. On May 
12, 1777, he was at home in Stoughton, and undoubtedly at 
this time raised his company, which was afterward attached 
to the regiment of Col. Ichabod Alden, in the Continental 
army. On Oct. 17, 1777, he was present at the surrender of 
Burgoyne's army. 

It would appear that during the latter part of May, 1778, 
the regiment of Colonel Alden was stationed at Cobleskill, 
about fifty-nine miles southwest from Albany. On the 30th 
of that month, a large band of Tories and Indians under the 
leadership of Thayendanegea, commonly known as Joseph 
Brant, and Barent Frey, who had made themselves for some 
time past the terror of that region, inflicting no small damage 
by the destruction of life and property, secreted themselves 
in an isolated spot and awaited the approach of Captain 
Patrick, who had been detached from Colonel Alden's regi- 
ment with a handful of men to pursue them. While the 


troops of Patrick were resting, their arms stacked, the Indians 
suddenly attacked them and cut them to pieces; Captain 
Patrick fell early in the engagement; his lieutenant, a cor- 
poral, and nineteen men were also killed ; the command then 
devolved upon a sergeant, who fought bravely, as all had 
done. The bodies of Patrick and his lieutenant were shock- 
ingly mutilated. He was buried, writes Lieutenant McKen- 
dry, on June 3, with military honors. This diary also informs 
us that on September 27 Lieut. Benjamin Billings left Cherry 
Valley for Stoughton. 

By the report of the committee chosen to examine the 
accounts of the Committee of Correspondence, the follow- 
ing citizens are credited with having performed labor pecu- 
liar to the office of trust reposed on them: Col. Benjamin 
Gill was engaged in procuring soldiers in Boston to fill the 
town's quota; Lemuel Gay, Nathaniel Fisher, Peter Talbot, 
and Christopher Wadsworth were supplied with funds at 
various times, to purchase necessary supplies for the families 
of the soldiers in the Continental army. Elijah Dunbar had 
attended conventions, taken cognizance of those unfriendly 
to the country, and also those who refused to sign the Test 
Act ; he had drawn up subscription papers to get money for 
the State. Capt. Peter Talbot, Christopher Wadsworth, Capt. 
Theophilus Curtis, Capt. David Lyon, Capt. Josiah Pratt, Jona- 
than Capen, Theophilus Lyon, James Pope, Joseph Richards, 
Jr., Samuel Talbot, Lemuel Gay, had rendered services of a 
similar nature ; and Mr. John Kenney had made a journey 
to General Washington by order of the selectmen. 15,600 
pounds of beef were demanded in 1780 from this town for 
the use of the army. 

Oct. 10, 1780, the town voted that Captain Southworth, 
George Grossman, and Samuel Talbot prepare a petition to 
be signed by the town clerk for the town, forwarded to Gen- 
eral Washington, in behalf of three of our townsmen who 
were in captivity, — William Merion, who subsequently died 
of small-pox in New York, Ebenezer Hayden, and Lemuel 

Mr. Smith was born in Stoughton, Dry Pond District. At 


the age of sixteen he enlisted in the Continental army. He was 
present on Dorchester Heights, and witnessed the embarka- 
tion of the royal troops. When our army moved south, 
young Smith accompanied them. After the battle of White 
Plains, he was captured and conveyed to New York, where 
he was put in the sugar-house, where he suffered for ten 
months the tortures of hunger, disease, and abuse. On 
being released, he returned home on foot through the wilder- 
ness, and reached Stoughton footsore, penniless, and nearly 
broken down in health. He died Nov. 5, 1846, aged eighty- 
seven years. His grave-stone at Dry Pond Cemetery can 
easily be seen from the road. 

On the triangular piece of land, situated in South Can- 
ton, bounded by Neponset, Church, and Washington streets, 
stood, in 1786, the house of Peter Crane. Between 1834 and 
1837 this house was removed to the Revere Copper Yard, 
or " Canton Dale," and became the homestead of the Re- 
vere family. Peter Crane, the son of Henry and Abigail 
Crane, was born at Packeen in 1752. He was a gunsmith 
by trade, and in 1813 was prover of fire-arms for the county 
of Norfolk. To him and his wife Abigail was born, on the 
iSth of February, 1789, a daughter Margaret, who was, in 
due time, to marry the Hon. Timothy Fuller, May 28, 1809; 
from this union was born Margaret Fuller, Countess d'OssoIi. 
The following account, written by her, of the every-day life 
of the persons who once occupied this house, has been 
preserved : — 

" Peter Crane, though an artisan of moderate circumstances, was 
quite scholarly for his day and condition of life, and possessed an 
original turn of mind, as well as marked independence of character. 
He left some disquisitions, preserved by his family, of no literary 
excellence, but indicative of a strong, untutored mind, coping with 
the intellectual problems of life, and feeling after truth by the unaided 
light of individual thought. He was noted for going on in his own 
course, with utter disregard of popularity, and of the view which others 
might take of his conduct. He served in the Revolutionary War, was 
adjutant in the Twenty-fourth Regiment of the Massachusetts Line, 
commanded by Col. John Greaton, and at one time, when there was 



no chaplain, performed the duties of that ofiSce for his regiment. 
Though belonging to no church, and entertaining perhaps rather 
crude ideas of his own in religious things, yet he had an influence over 
the minds of others which induced his counsels and prayers to be 
sought for in circumstances of distress. He died before I was born, 
Dec. 6, 1821 ; but my grandmother lived till Dec. 2, 1845. ^y 
father and mother often visited her at Canton, riding in a chaise, and 
carrying one of the children sitting on a cricket at their feet ; and my 
turn for these journeys came often. My father was an ardent lover 
of Nature, which he doubly enjoyed in his escapes from the pressure 
of public and professional business ; and his enjoyment of it, and the 
points of interest he called attention to, heightened my relish for this 
pure gratification. He drove slowly, and sang with my mother on the 
way. These journeys are to be perpetually remembered by me ; and 
the visits were always celebrated in sacred song among the Canton 
kindred, which my father accompanied on the flute, enjoying music 
with almost passionate delight. Arriving at Canton, we were always 
joyously greeted by the bright and sunny face of my aged grand- 
mother, who lived with a maiden aunt, and the uniformity of whose 
life was very agreeably varied by these visits, while my father never 
neglected to bring generous supplies for her rather meagre larder. 
She was a very pious woman, in the simplicity and devotion of the 
Baxter school, whose ' Saint's Rest,' as well as the works of Watts and 
Doddridge, were very familiar and precious to her, and formed, to- 
gether with her ever diligently conned and well-worn Bible, almost 
the whole range of her literary acquirement. She was very fond 
of singing devotional h)mins. Among others, 'China' was a great 
favorite, sung even with her last failing voice upon her death-bed. 
As she sang it, the minor cadence, and its reference to the grave, 
rather affrighted and repelled my childish taste ; but I have since 
been able to appreciate the sentiment which made it attractive. My 
grandmother had great sweetness of temper and a sunshine of dispo- 
sition which may have been received by my mother as an hereditary 

" My mother has given some rather grotesque accounts of riding 
to church on a pillion, and of being sometimes taken up behind a 
rustic cavalier, whose invitation she had unwillingly accepted, to spare 
him the mortification of a refusal. It was at church that my father 
first saw her, he happening, through some chance, to be in Canton on 
the Sabbath. He loved, and his love was returned. He soon led 
her to the aUar, a blooming girl of twenty, and ten years younger than 


himself. Father was not blind to worldly advantages of family and 
position ; and such were readily within the reach of a rising young 
lawyer, whose talents had already become favorably known. But it 
was well for him that he yielded to a softer and a better sentiment. 
His love for my mother was the green spot on which he stood apart 
from the commonplaces of a mere bread-winning, bread-bestowing 

There is a tradition that Peter Crane, vifho was an excellent 
workman in' iron and steel, had a shop that stood near the 
corner of Church and Washington streets; that one day he 
went across the street to try a scythe, and seeing a small elm- 
tree struggling among the bushes, cut away the surrounding 
brambles, trimmed the superfluous branches, and gave it a 
chance. This is the magnificent tree that now stands in front 
of the store of Mr. D. C. F. Ellis. 

In 1780 the Committee of Correspondence and Safety con- 
sisted of Samuel Capen, 2d, James Pope, and William Wheeler. 
The winter of 1780 was unusually severe; the crops of 
1779 and 1780 had failed; the war had created a heavy debt; 
the currency had so depreciated it cost £4 to have a horse 
shod, and twelve shillings for a bowl of toddy; farmers, who 
had been obliged to sell their corn and cattle for worthless 
bills, had planted less than usual. Amid these discourage- 
ments, our ancestors were called upon to organize a new 
government for the commonwealth, and manfully did they 
answer the call of duty. Canton, no less than other towns, 
was blessed with men of strong intellects and warm hearts, — 
men who had in former years closely studied the wisdom of 
the mother country, who were familiar with methods of gov- 
ernment and strongly attached to well-tried forms, as the only 
safeguards of liberty. Many of these men had been connected 
'with the government of the Crown. They had relied upon the 
laws of England, and had been accustomed to look to the 
mother country for advice. Suddenly they found themselves 
thrown upon their own resources. They must originate and 
promulgate a form of government free from the shackles of 
monarchy, and the traditions of centuries. Five years before. 


they had taken an oath that they would " bear faith and true 
allegiance to his Majesty King George, and defend him to 
the utmost of their power against all traitorous conspiracies." 
But the meeting at the Doty tavern, the County Congresses 
at Dedham and Milton, and the Declaration of Independence 
had subverted their former principles; and in 1780 they 
reiterated the doctrine that " man is born with certain in- 
alienable rights, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of hap- 
piness," and adopted our present Constitution. The re- 
sponsibility was great; and the historian can point to no 
brighter page in our country's history than the renewal 
of the foundations of the political existence of Massachu- 
setts amid such fearful discouragements. 

The inhabitants of our town assembled in the old church 
and voted, June i, 1779, that their representative be in- 
structed to vote for the calling of a convention to form 
a new Constitution, and to have the whole State equally 
represented, " and the representative is himself instructed 
to be watchful of the rights and liberties of the people." 
" On the 9th of August, the town chose the Rev. Jedediah 
Adams for delegate to sit in the State convention for the sole 
purpose of forming a new Constitution." 

The Constitution submitted for the town's approval in 1778 
had received very severe treatment at town meeting. The 
committee reported that it was " deficient, absurd, uninteli- 
gible, unequal, embarassed, and oppressive in many parts," 
and recommended the town to disapprove of it, which the 
town did unanimously. The Constitution of 1780 was not 
allowed to pass the ordeal of a town meeting held on June r, 
1780, without having several changes made in it. 

Art. IX. of the Declaration of Rights read as follows : — 

" All elections ought to be free, and all the inhabitants of this com- 
monwealth, having such qualifications as they shall establish by their 
form of government, have an equal right to elect officers, and to be 
elected for public employments." 

This article was objected to by the town, and it was 
urged, — 


"That every male inhabitant that had reached the age of 21 
years, and had paid taxes for the support of government, should 
have a right to vote, because, said one of the speakers, the right of 
election is not only a civil right, but a natural right, which ought to 
be considered as a principal corner-stone in the foundation for the 
frame of government to stand on, consequently it is unsystematic and 
contrary to the rules of architecture to make it dependent on the 
frame, taxation and representation are reciprocal, and inseparably 

In regard to Art. XIII. : — 

" In criminal prosecutions, the verification of facts, in the vicinity 
where they happen, is one of the greatest securities of the life, liberty, 
and property of the citizens." 

The town voted it defective, for the reason that although 
a truth is asserted, yet no right is declared ; and they voted 
eighty-five in the affirmative, none in the negative, to add the 
words, " therefore every subject in this commonwealth has 
a right to such security." 

Art. XVI. speaks only of the liberty of the press as essen- 
tial to the security of freedom in a State ; but we consider the 
statement deficient and unsafe, because liberty of speech is 
as essential to the security of freedom in a State as that of 
the Press, and it was voted "that it be connected in said 

In 1 78 1 the Committee of Correspondence consisted of 
John Kenney, Robert Swan, and Samuel Capen, 2d. 

At a town meeting held Jan. i, 1 781, the following instruc- 
tions were voted to the representatives : — 

To Elijah Dunbar, Esq., and Ms.. Christopher Wadsworth: 

Gentlemen, — You being chosen by y* Town of Stoughton to 
represent them in y° Great and General Court, and as it must be agree- 
able to you to know y° minds of your constituents in all important 
matters, we think fit to give you y= following instructions : With re- 
spect to -f men that served in the last campaign, — one set for six 
months, y"= other set for three months, — as we ever have been willing 
in every campaign since y° war to encourage -f soldier that would 
engage in y= service, so also at -f close of every campaign we mean 


to be punctual in paying them; and as the soldiers were promised 
forty shillings per month in gold or silver, or Bills equivalent, you are 
strictly enjoined to use your best exertions in y° General Court that 
a Premium of Bounty of thirty five shillings of your new emission per 
month be granted each soldier in service, over and above y" forty 
shillings per month in y' new emission, for their good services. With 
respect to a motion that was made in Court at y" last session to repeal 
an act made in y' year 1780, as recommended by a Resolution of 
Congress of March y° i8th y' same year, entitled an act making pro- 
vision for calling in to be destroyed this State's Quota, according to 
y" present apportionment of y° public bills of credit, which have been 
emitted by Congress, &c., you are strictly enjoined steadily to oppose 
in future with your best exertions any motion of that kind that may 
be made in Court, as we apprehend that for particular States to make 
or repeal any laws contrary to y° Resolution of Congress tends to 
break the Union." 

A resolve passed the Legislature this year for " collecting 
clothes for this Commonwealth's Quota of the Continental 
Army; " and at the town meeting, held July 4, the fifth 
article of the warrant was " To see what method the town 
will take to furnish the Selectmen with a sum of money, in 
order for them to procure a quantity of clothing required of 
this town for the army." 

At the town meeting, Feb. 19, 1781, Art. II. was, "To see 
if the town will take under consideration any late act of the 
General Court, respecting taking of the Tender Act," etc., 
and it was " voted, Messrs. Capt. Endicott, Esq. Crane, Dr. 
Crosman, Capt. Southworth, and Col. Gill, be a committee 
to take the matter under consideration, and write circular 
letters to y several Towns in this County immediately on 
y matter." 

At a town meeting held on April 11, 1781, the represen- 
tatives received these instructions : — 

Gentlemen, — You are instructed to use your most vigorous exer- 
tions and influence in said Court to obtain a repeal of an act, entitled 
an act for repealing certain parts of an act for altering y' several acts 
of Government, which now relate to y= currency of y= State, &c. And 
you are alike directed to use your endeavour that y= Collectors of y" 


hard money Tax be directed to receive the new Bills which hath been 
struck by Congress and emitted by this State in the lieu of the hard 
money, provided it is not contrary to the authority of the United 
States in Congress assembled, and that the new emission bills be 
received and paid in all payments equal to silver, unless otherwise 
determined by the Congress of the United States. And you are 
instructed to be very cautious in giving your vote or votes for any 
Law or Resolve, until you are well informed that they are not repugnant 
to the authority of Congress. And you are directed to enquire after 
and call up y° Petition that was preferred to y' General Court by this 
Town, praying that y" Bounties given by y" Town to y' soldiers in 
y' three year's service might be refunded to said soldiers ; and give 
an account to y° Town at the annual meeting of said Town in May 
next what order the General Court have taken on the above mentioned 

In pursuance of a resolve of the Great and General Court, 
passed in February, 1781, the assessors of every deficient 
town were authorized to distribute its inhabitants into as 
many classes as the number of men required in such town 
amounted to ; and each person in a class was assessed his 
just proportion toward procuring a man. The following is 
a memorandum of a class made by Samuel Tucker, Jr., to 
hire a man to serve as a soldier for three years to fill up the 
Continental army: — 

To the Selectmen and Assessors of the Town of Stoughton: 

This is to inform you that the class number sixteen, for hiring a 
man to serve in the Continental Army for three years, or during the 
war, have hired a man to' perform said three years service, and they 
gave him four hundred and fifty silver dollars, being ;£i35 ; also the 
said class, before they hired the last man (John Aspinwall, Jr.), had 
hired a man to serve for said class who was claimed by the town of 
Boston, by which means, and for the cost and charge of hiring them, 
the class at cost and charge to the amount of jggo.oo, including what 
Gersham Joy owed said class, he being gone and left nothing to pay ; 
and we paid interest for the money ever since the 25 of June, 1781 ; 
and the widow Jerusha Wentworth, and John Wentworth, who belonged 
to said class, have neglected and refused to pay their respective pro- 
portions for hiring said men, and the cost that said class has been at 
to procure a man agreeable to the Resolves passed February 26, 1781, 


saving that said John Wentworth paid forty shillings to said Aspinwall 
at the time of hiring him. Therefore we request that you would grant 
a warrant agreeable to the law, to collect their respective proportions 
for hiring said men, the cost and the interest of their part of the 
money, so that we may be able to discharge their part of the debt, 
due from said class. 

Samuel Tucker, Jr., 

Committee of Sixteenth Class. 
March 4, 1782. 

Twenty-three men were raised by the class system. The 
Committee of Correspondence in 1782 consisted of Elijah 
Dunbar, John Holmes, and Adam Blacknian; and in 1783, 
of Benjamin Gill, James Endicott, and Major Swan. 

On March 18, 1782, agreeable to an article in the warrant, 
" To see if the town will allow every male person, twenty-one 
years of age, and free, to vote in all town matters," the fol- 
lowing resolution on the right of suffrage was passed : — 

" Whereas it has been the laudible custom of this Town ever since 
the struggles of y= United States with Great Britain for their freedom 
and rights, not to debar, but admit all and every person being Twenty- 
one years of age, living within y= limits of this Town, and taxed therin 
for y' support of Government, to exercise their natural, essential, and 
unalienable right of self-government by voting in all Town affairs and 
at election of public officers and Representatives; which custom 
being upon -f principles of freedom, equality, and justice ought to be 
established an unalterable precedent, except in y= choice of y= Senate, 
which represents property ; therefore, voted, that this Town do hereby 
ratify and confirm said custom as a precedent that ought never to be 
violated or altered hereafter, with the exception aforesaid." 

On May 16, 1783, the town instructed John Kenney, their 
representative, to endeavor to obtain from the General Court 
a lower valuation for the town, confiscation of the property 
of Tories, the prompt payment of officers and privates, fru- 
gality in the expenditure of the public money, and various 
other matters tending to an honest administration of public 

The end of the war and the return of peace was duly cele- 
brated in Canton by a service at the old meeting-house, June 


2, 1783. The Rev. Samuel Dunbar made a prayer, and an 
oration was delivered by Samuel Searle. 

In town meeting, Sept. 18, 1783, it was voted to accept the 
report of the committee that was chosen to take under con- 
sideration the address from Congress to the States and Gen- 
eral Washington, circular letters, and sundry other letters and 
papers, etc. 

" Report : Gentlemen, your committee, whose names are under- 
written consonant to appointment, having taken into consideration the 
matter contained in the Pamphlets committed to their inspection, 
solicit permission to report that the recommendation of Congress 
relative to Impost ought by all means to be complied with, provided 
y° whole revenue arising therefrom be appropriated to the payment 
of the debts, and not otherwise, and also the eight per cent, fee allowed 
the officers for collecting be not granted. That the alteration in the 
eighth article of confederation agreed to and recommended by Con- 
gress, being incompatible with the interest of these Eastern States, is 
rejected. That the half pay and commutation granted to the officers 
of the army is both unreasonable and unjust ; and what they humbly 
conceive was not in the power of Congress to grant, being conspicu- 
ously incongruous with the general welfare of the United States, there- 
fore meets their warmest disapprobation. 

"Thus, -Gentlemen, your Committee has, in a few words, com- 
municated the result of their proceedings, and are not without their 
suspicions, though not from a sensibility of remissness in the duty, 
that some will be ready to think that too little has been done and said 
upon a matter of such vast importance ; to such they modestly appre- 
hend it will be a sufficient apology to assure them that the whole 
passes their more penetrating inquisition, and consequently opens the 
field for expansion of more elevated genius and refined speculations ; 
but. Gentlemen, be this as it may, your Committee, conscious of 
having been faithful, cannot but hope and flatter themselves that 
you, upon canvassing the whole, will in some good measure coin- 
cide with them in the above sentiments." 




THE war was over, but the day of reckoning was to 
come. The Federal debt, the amount due the ofificers 
of the army, the State debt, and the indebtedness of the 
town for advances made either in bounties, supplies to the 
army, or families at home, had to be paid. Little remained 
of the gifts of land or money that had been received for 
public purposes. Private individuals owed large sums to 
one another which during the confusion of war times they 
had neglected to pay. Ill feeling soon sprang up between 
debtors and creditors ; and the courts and the lawyers were 
looked upon as means of oppression by those who had 
shed their blood to free their country from the oppres- 
sion of Great Britain. In some counties the courts of jus- 
tice were overawed. Shays's Rebellion broke out, and the 
majority of our townsmen sympathized with the insurgents. 
"The insurrection of Shays," says a sexton of the old school, 
"was a matter of conscience beyond all doubt. He and 
many of his associates believed themselves a conscience 
party." Be this as it may, the government became alarmed, 
and determined to enforce submission to the laws. One of 
the young men of Canton, John Endicott, whose exploit as 
a boy of twelve has been related, enlisted in the small army 
commanded by General Lincoln, which was sent into the 
Western counties to reduce the insurgents. He held the 
office of orderly sergeant in the company to which he was 
attached. He was out in that famous night-march from 
Hadley to Petersham, pronounced by historians one of the 
most remarkable on record. It was attended with great 
suflfering on account of the severity of the cold and depth 



of the snow. The insurgent forces were encamped on a hill 
in Pelham. General Lincoln was in Hadley watching their 
motions, going out himself on the 2d of February to recon- 
noitre their position. The next day, at noon, he was in- 
formed that they were in motion, — as it was supposed, how- 
ever, onl}' shifting their quarters to another hill in the same 
town. But at six in the evening of the same day — the 3d 
of February — he received undoubted intelligence that they 
had broken up their encampment and begun their march 
eastward, in the direction of Petersham, on the borders of 
Worcester County. He instantly gave orders to his army 
to put itself in readiness to follow; and in two hours, at 
eight o'clock in the evening, his forces were on the march, 
— a long winter's night before them. By two o'clock in the 
morning, they had advanced as far as New Salem. " Here," 
says Judge Minot, in his History of the Insurrection of Mas- 
sachusetts and of the Rebellion, " a violent north wind arose, 
and sharpened the cold to an extreme degree ; a snow-storm 
accompanied it, which filled the paths ; the route of the army, 
lying over high land, exposed the soldiers to the full effects " 
of the blast, and, " the country being thinly settled," for many 
miles " afforded them no covering. Being thus deprived 
of shelter for want of buildings, and of refreshments by the 
intenseness of the cold, which prevented their taking any on 
the road, their only safety consisted in closely pursuing a 
march which was to terminate at the quarters of the enemy. 
They therefore advanced the whole distance of thirty miles," 
scarcely halting by the way. 

They reached Petersham during the forenoon of the 4th of 
February. "On their arrival, Endicott^ — ^ twenty-three years 
old that day, for it was his birthday — was obliged, before al- 
lowing himself time for refreshment or rest, to go some dis- 
tance to seek provisions for his company, those they had 
taken with them in their knapsacks being so badly frozen 
that they could not be used. It is not surprising that he 
could never forget that terrible night-march. The severity 
of the weather and the fatigue and sufferings of the little 
army dwelt in his memory, and his description of them was 


minute and graphic. Little do we, who rest in our quiet 
habitations under protection of laws universally respected, 
reflect on the sacrifices by which our enjoyments and im- 
munities were purchased." 

John Endicott, in 1787, took up his residence in Dedham, 
where he became a distinguished citizen, filling many offices 
of public trust, at one time being a member of the Council, 
during the administration of Governor Lincoln. He died 
in 1857. 

At a town meeting, May 17, 1786, the instructions follow- 
ing were voted to the representative : — 

To James Endicott, Esq. : 

Sir, — Notwithstanding your Constituents rely with full con- 
fidence on your integrity and abilities, yet they think it expedient to 
instruct you in the following particulars, viz. : You are hereby directed 
and instructed to use your utmost influence and abilities in y* next 
session of y° General Court, that y' pernicious practice of y"= Law, as 
most elaborately and feelingly held up in public view by some eminent 
Patriot under 5^° signature of Honestus, may be totally abolished, 
and that a Bill may be framed that each citizen of this Commonwealth 
may support and defend his cause before any Court of law with 
y^ same freedom and propriety as he can now before Arbitrators or 
Referees, agreeable to the Declaration of Rights. 

2d. You are also instructed to use your best endeavors that all 
exhorbitant Salaries and fees be reduced in proportion to services 
done, and y"' poverty and distresses of y° people who pay. 

3d. The distressing situation of y° people is so universally felt, on 
account of y' scarcity of a circulating medium, you are directed to 
use your endeavors that y* Legislature pay their earliest attention to 
a matter of such infinite importance, and devise and adopt y° most 
eligible plan for y° restoration of a proper circulation in y' political 
body, which is almost totally stagnated, and which must terminate in 
a dissolution unless timely prevented. 

At a town meeting, Oct. 2, 1786, the following additional 
instructions were voted to the representative : — 

" Notwithstanding the high opinion your constituents entertain of 
your abilities and good intentions to serve them, and the trust reposed 
in your integrity and fidelity for that purpose, when State Convulsions 


and political diseases of a complicated nature, attended with the most 
dangerous and alarming symptoms, call aloud not only for the exer- 
tions of the head, and those skilled in political remedies, to administer 
speedy relief, but likewise for the aid of every inferior member of the 
Body, — they think it their duty, as well as their right, to tell their 
complaints, state their greviences, and hint the method of cure and 
modes of relief. 

" Your constituents feel themselves aggrieved, and think that they 
justly complain of exhorbitant salaries in the executive and judicial 
departments, which they suppose is at present beyond the Constitu- 
tional power of the Legislature, by an act of Legislation, to redress. 
Notwithstanding, as his Excellency is framed for wisdom and great- 
ness of soul, your Constituents do wish, and therefore instruct you to 
use your influence in the Legislature, that he be politely invited to ex- 
hibit specimens of his magnanimity by imitating a Jewish Patriot who 
would not eat the bread of the (iovernment in a time of general dis- 
tress. You are instructed to use your influence that the Treasurer 
and Commissary General's salaries be reduced in proportion to ser- 
vices done and the distress of the people who pay, and that the num- 
ber of Clerks in said offices be reduced as well as their pay, and 
likewise that all other exorbitant salaries be reasonably reduced, 
except those of the Members of Congress, and the Justices of the 
Supreme Judicial Court, which appears reasonable. 

" You are directed to use your influence that the mode of collect- 
ing Imposts and excise be totally changed, in the following manner, 
viz. : — 

"That the Collectors be chosen in and by each Town, and the 
expense of collecting be paid by said Towns, and that all the monies 
so collected be appropriated for the purpose of paying the foreign 
debt, and that greater duties be laid upon all superfluities of life, and 
especially upon all Spirituous Liquors. 

" You are directed to vote for no gratuities to any man, or body of 
men, without particular directions from your Constituents. You are 
instructed to exert your best abilities to lop-off some of the unneces- 
sary branches of some departments of Government, and in particular 
the Courts of Common Pleas and Courts of Quarter Sessions, and let 
all actions and causes that used to come before and be recognizable 
at the above Courts come before and be recognizable at Courts 
appointed for that purpose in each Town, — the parties always having 
the benefit of appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court, and that the 
order of Lawyers, as they now practice, be entirely annihilated. 


" Your Constituents view the present mode of collecting the Taxes 
to be a grievance on the poor ; therefore you will endeavor to have 
such alteration as shall appear to you beneficial to the public. 

" You are also instructed to exert yourself to have the Probate 
Courts held, and Deeds recorded in each Town, and to likewise 
strive that all other grievances be addressed. 

" And that a moderate Bank of paper money be emitted, and that 
it shall be a tender in all contracts made after the emission is issued, 
and for the interest on all former contracts, likewise to answer for any 
former contracts that are sued for or strenuously demanded, and for 
all public Taxes made on Polls and Estates. That the Imposts and 
Excise, so far as can be come at, shall be paid in hard money, and 
appropriated to pay the foreign debt or interest of the same." 

At a town meeting, Jan. 29, 1787, an address from Gov- 
ernor Bowdoin having been read to the qualified voters, it 
was voted, — 

" That this Town will exert its influence and power to support y' 
present Constitution, however imperfect it may be, and will, when 
Constitutionally required, most decidedly co-operate with Government 
in every necessary exertion for the restoring to the Commonwealth 
that order, harmony, and peace upon which its happiness and char- 
acter do essentially depend." 

Also the town voted the following petition : — 

"To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the 
Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General Court assembled. 
Most Respectfully Sheweth — 

" That your Petitioners, the Freemen of the Town of Stoughton, 
in Town Meeting legally assembled, are under the most alarming 
apprehensions on account of the public convulsions and universal 
Commotions in the Commonwealth at the present day ; 

"That your Petitioners, at this dreadful crisis, when the din of 
arms and hostile appearances freeze them with horror, are greatly 
afraid that a general civil war and effusions of innocent blood will be 
the issue of the present measures of Government, unless the minds 
of the people are quieted by the Legislature adopting those that are 
more lenient, and redressing those grievances generally felt, therefore 
anxiously pray that your Honors would be graciously pleased to grant 
the following request : That the effusion of the human blood may be 


if possible prevented ; and that the most decisive measures be imme- 
diately adopted by the Legislature to accomplish so necessary and 
salutary a purpose ; that the Courts of Common Pleas and General 
Sessions of the Peace be abolished, and a substitute, answering every 
purpose, be instituted that shall be apparently most beneficial to the 

" That the fees be regulated, &c. 

" That the matters of the Governor's Salary and other Salaries be 
lowered for the present in proportion to the scarcity of money, and 
in order that some measures that we are persuaded will quiet the 
people in a considerable degree may be adopted. Until the abolition 
aforesaid shall take place, we pray that the Fee Table may be lowered, 
— in particular, that the Justices of the General Sessions of the Peace 
should not have more than 2s. 6d. per day ; who live within ten miles, 
and those above ten miles, 3s. 6d. per day, and no travel allowed ; 
also that the Fee allowed for acknowledging an instrument should not 
exceed 6d , and all other parts of the fee table be lowered in propor- 
tion. Also to prevent the numerous Lawsuits that have taken place, 
and the general costs that has arisen thereon, to the great distress and 
utter ruin of numbers, — we pray that a law may be made that when a 
dispute shall arise between party and party that if either of the par- 
ties shall offer to the other to leave the matter in dispute to persons 
mutually chosen, the party refusing shall pay all the cost which shall, 
in the Judgement of the Judges of the Supreme Judicial Court, exceed 
the cost of the proposed reference. 

" Also we pray that a law may be made that whosoever, in the 
Judgement of the assessors in each town, can procure and keep five, 
ten, twenty, or thirty sheep, and being duly notified by the assessors, 
shall not procure and keep the number so specified, shall pay 6s. to 
the use of the Government for every five sheep he shall be deficient. 
Also we pray that a law may be made that whosoever in the Judge- 
ment of the assessors of each Town can raise one acre, one-half acre, 
or one-quarter of an acre of Flax yearly, and being duly notified by 
the assessors, shall neglect or refuse to cultivate the quantity allotted, 
shall pay six shillings to the Government for every one-fourth acre he 
shall be deficient. 

"Also we pray that a law may be made for the preventing the 
killing of Lambs till they are upwards of a year old." 

The following is the " oath of allegiance," subscribed to by 
the officers of the town of Stoughton, on the 19th of March, 
1787: — 


We, the Subscribers, do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, 
testify, and declare that the commonwealth of Massachusetts is, and 
of right ought to be, a free, sovereign, and independent State ; and 
we do swear that we will bear true faith and allegiance to the said 
commonwealth, and that we will defend the same against traiterous 
conspiracies and all hostile attempts whatsoever; and that we do 
renounce and abjure all allegiance, subjection, and obedience to the 
king, queen, or government of Great Britain, and every other foreign 
power whatsoever ; and that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, 
or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, superiority, pre- 
eminence, authority, dispensing, or other power in any matter, civil, 
ecclesiastical, or spiritual, within this commonwealth, — except the 
authority and power which is or may be vested by their constituents 
in the Congress of the United States. And we do further testify and 
declare that no man or body of men hath or can have any right to 
absolve or discharge us from the obligation of this oath, declaration, 
or affirmation ; and that we do make this acknowledgement, profes- 
sion, testimony, denial, declaration, denounciation, and abjuration 
heartily and truly according to the common meaning and acceptation 
of the foregoing words, without any equivocation, mental evasion, or 
secret reservation whatsoever. So help me God. 

Abner Crane. Lemuel Gay. 

James Pope. Elijah Crane. 

William Wheeler. Elijah Donbar. 

At a town meeting, May 7; 1787, the town voted instruc- 
tions to their representatives, in which the following lan- 
guage occurs : — 

" You will use your influence that the General Court be removed 
out of the Town of Boston, that the minds of the people may be 
quieted respecting undue influence. 

" That wall of protection now broken down which once guarded the 
personal liberty of the Subject, — viz., the Habeas Corpus, — you will 
endeavor to have rebuilt with every public advantage and private 

" Those discriminating and disquahfying acts which serve to irri- 
tate y' minds of y" people, instead of promoting the desirable blessing 
of peace, your constituents wish to have repealed, together with all 
other laws that appear repugnant to the common good. 

" You will enquire whether the liberty of the Press, so essential to 
the security of Freedom in a State, has been in any manner violated 


or restrained in this Commonwealth ; and if so, you will endeavor to 
have the violations impeached, and future restraint prevented." 

At a town meeting, Jan. i, 1788, the committee of eleven 
previously appointed Dec. 3, 1787, to prepare instructions 
for the delegates chosen by the town to attend the State 
convention to consider the proposed Federal Constitution, 
reported — 

" That it is our opinion, after a mature and deliberate consideration 
on the subject, that it be left discretionary with the delegates, — Ben- 
jamin Gill, Abner Crane, James Pope, Samuel Talbot, Nathaniel 
Fisher, Samuel Capen, Peter Crane, Frederic Pope, Elijah Crane, 
William Wheeler, Joseph Richards, Jr." 

At a town meeting. May 5, 1788, the town voted to in- 
struct its representative to use his influence that there be a 
law made that the liberty of the Press in all public matters 
should not be restrained. 




CIVIL HISTORY, 1775-1800. 

THE civil affairs of the town during the Revolution and 
the subsequent score of years offer little worthy of 
record. In 1778 the town was visited by the small-pox; and 
isolated dwellings were converted into hospitals. Again, in 
1792 forty-eight people were suffering with this disease at 
the house of Mr. Jesse Davenport in Ponkapoag. Mr. Na- 
thaniel Wentworth's house was used in the same manner ; and 
the house of Elijah Gill, then standing on the south side of 
the meadow which is now Reservoir Pond, was filled with 

The dark day of May 19, 1780, had thrown its silent pall 
over our people as well as the rest of New England, — the 
darkest day, says Samuel Chandler, ever known in this land ; 
the farmers left their ploughs in the fields, and the children 
returned from the schoolhouses, affrighted. But Eliakim 
Pitcher was not alarmed. He was shearing sheep when the 
darkness came ; he quietly called for candles, and worked all 
day as if nothing unusual was going on. The Rev. Mr. 
Gatchel afterward preached a sermon, taking for his text, 
" The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars 
shall withdraw their shining." 

The inhabitants of Canton, as well as other towns, had long 
been dissatisfied at being obliged to go to Boston to attend 
court. The desire to have a separate county was expressed 
in 1733, when the town voted to join with all the towns in 
the county of Suffolk except Boston, to be made into a sepa- 
rate county; this vote was repeated in 1735 and in 1738. 
The reasons they give are, — because the business of the 
Superior and Inferior courts at Boston is so great " that it is 



tedious to wait upon " and very expensive of time and money ; 
that the jurors " lie upon expense both for horse and man; " 
and that men in the country are unacquainted with matters 
pertaining to merchandise and seafaring affairs, and are better 
informed in regard to husbandry. Again, it was laborious 
for widows to be obliged to drive in and out, and sometimes 
have to wait a long time for their turn, so large was the busi- 
ness and so crowded the court-room. In 1775 it was pro- 
posed that the towns, with one or two additions, which are 
now comprised within the county of Norfolk be set off as a 
separate county, to be called Hancock. 

In 1784 an article was inserted in the warrant to see if our 
town will join with the towns lying at the western part of 
Suffolk County, to form a new county. Three years later it 
was voted that the representative to the General Court recom- 
mend that proper measures be taken for a division of the 
county, and that Boston be a county by itself, unless adja- 
cent towns choose to join it. The choice of the shire town 
appears to have been a matter of indifference, although at 
one time it was suggested that Stoughton should receive that 
honor. In 1791 a petition was presented to the General 
Court for the formation of a new county, signed by Elijah 
Dunbar for Canton, and praying that the name of the new 
county be Union. This agitation resulted in the establish- 
ment of Norfolk County, June 20, 1793. It would appear 
that a convention met at Gay's tavern on Dec. 9, 1793, to 
prevent the dismemberment of Suffolk County, and was at- 
tended by James Endicott, Elijah Dunbar, Col. Nathan Crane, 
and Capt. Samuel Talbot. Ours was not the original county 
of Norfolk. In 1643 one of the four counties, embracing 
Hampton, Haverhill, Exeter, Dover, and Strawberry Bank. 
was called Norfolk, for the county of the same name in Old 
England, which was composed of the North-folk. By the 
present naming, the North-folk are south of the South-folk. 

As early as 1753 Uriah Atherton, who was afterward a 
soldier in Capt. Jonathan Eddy's company of Col. Thomas 
Doty's regiment, commonly called Forgeman Atherton, with 
others who resided in the southeast corner of the town. 


desired to be set off from Stoughton, and allowed to pay 
their ministerial taxes to Norton, North Precinct; they, as 
usual in such cases, alleging that they lived very far from 
public worship. It is probable that they were gratified in 
their desire. In 1765 Samuel Talbot, Nehemiah Carpenter, 
Increase Pond, Elijah Morse, John Sumner, Nathaniel Clark, 
and others, prayed that they might be set off a township, 
district, or precinct. They were pacified by the transfer of 
their ministerial rates. The following year, the inhabitants 
of what is now Foxboro' desired to be set off as a new 
town, to be called Royaltown, in honor of Isaac Royall, of 
Medford, afterward the famous Tory. This man is not to 
be confounded with the Isaac Royall who lived under Blue 
Hill, at Canton. But it was not until 1778, on the lOth of 
June, that the inhabitants received from the General Court an 
Act of Incorporation, they now having discarded the traitor's 
name for their town; and in honor of the defender of the 
American provinces, they named it for Charles James Fox. 
For a full account of this matter the reader is referred to the 
speech of Ellis Ames, Esq., at the Centennial Celebration at 
Foxboro', June 29, 1878. 

In old times there were small tan-yards in the country 
towns, to which the neighbors carried their hides to be sold 
or to be cured. Theophilus Lyon was the owner of one just 
below the dam on Pleasant Street, where Pequit Brook leaves 
Reservoir Pond. A citizen records in 1777, " Lyon has my 
horse hide;" in 1782, "carry Lyon five loads of bark." 
Charles Fenno, in 1778, had a tan-yard, and a load of bark 
was carried to him, for payment of which twelve pounds of 
the best sole-leather was to be given. The names of James 
Endicott, Dudley Bailey, Enoch Dickerman, and Richard 
Gridley also appear as owners or part owners of tan-yards. 

In 1785 it was voted — 

" That the Town clerk record, agreeable to y"" law in that case made 
and provided, all persons who shall be born or shall die within this 
town, & that if any person or persons neglect or refuse to comply 
with y"= laws that y' clerk be directed to prosecute them accordingly." 


In 1795 a. guide-board was erected at Ingraham's Corner 
bearing the inscription, " Twenty-one miles to Taunton 
through Sharon." This year also the taxes, which heretofore 
had been computed in the old English method of pounds, 
shillings, and pence, were reckoned agreeable to an act of 
the Legislature passed February 25. There were 155 voters 
in what is now Stoughton, and 140 in what is now Canton, 
about 1,125 acres of unimproved land in the former precinct, 
and 622 in the latter. 

In 1798 the town sent a memorial to Congress, deeply 
regretting the unhappy cause of difficulty with the republic 
of France, and deprecating the horrors of war, the burden 
of which must be borne by the yeomanry, who could not fail 
to be the principal sufferers, and our representative was in- 
structed to use his utmost endeavors to prevent the dreadful 
■calamity of war. 




SAMUEL DUNBAR died in June, 1783. The parish 
chose a committee to supply the pulpit; and when 
preachers were not to be obtained, either Joseph Billings, 
Elijah Dunbar, John Kenney, or Benjamin Gill was author- 
ized to conduct worship in the following manner: first, a 
portion of the Holy Scriptures was to be read, then a psalm 
was read and afterward sung, then " some pious practical 
discourse," then another psalm was read and sung, and 
finally the assembly was dismissed by reading an apos- 
tolic benediction. 

In 1784 the church and parish extended a call to Mr. 
Bezaleel Howard to take the care of the church and congre- 
gation. Mr. Howard was a graduate of Harvard College in 
the class of 1781. He did not accept the invitation, and sub- 
sequently was settled in-Springfield, where he died in 1838. 

On the 5th of September, 1784, the attendants at the old 
church were charmed by the eloquence of a young man 
named Aaron Bancroft. They had been accustomed for years 
to Calvinistic preaching. The faith since known as Unitarian 
had not then a name. John Adams says that before the 
Revolution many lawyers, physicians, tradesmen, and farmers 
were in belief though not in name Unitarians. Many of the 
Boston clergymen, prominent among whom was Mayhew, 
were considered extremely liberal in their theological views ; 
and in 1768 Hopkins prepared a sermon especially directed 
to the shortcomings of the heretical Boston ministers. The 
name Unitarian was not adopted, but those who disbelieved 
in the Trinity, and were in other respects opposed to the doc- 
trine of Calvin were called ^Armihians, sometimes Arians. 


There was, however, as yet no breach between either churches 
or communicants. Clergymen of opposing views occupied 
the same pulpits and preached to the same congregations. 
That the leaders in what was in Channing's time to be known 
as Unitarianism desired to maintain the unity of the church, 
is proved by the fact that in most cases the Calvinists 
seceded, not being willing to listen to the doctrines of the 
so-called Arminians ; in other instances the change was 
gradual, often imperceptible, and it was not until the decade 
between 1815-25 that controversy grew hot, and churches 
and men took sides. 

Young Aaron Bancroft was an Arminian. He preached to 
the people belief in one good God. Mr. Dunbar had taught 
them that the Ruler of Heaven was a despot; Bancroft as- 
serted that man, the child of God, was liable to err, but capa- 
ble of reaching the divinest summits. Dunbar had taught 
them that they were totally depraved. Bancroft asserted that 
there were fresh possibilities in the life to come ; Dunbar, 
that it was an inheritance of doom unless there should 
be a sacrificial substitute for the penalties of sin. What- 
ever the good people may have thought of Mr. Dunbar's 
theology, it is certain that they were very much pleased 
with the doctrines of one who was in after years to become 
the first President of the American Unitarian Association. 

After Mr. Bancroft had preached for eight Sundays, the 
church and parish gave him almost a unanimous call to 
settle over them, and Elijah Dunbar, Esq., Col. Benjamin 
Gill, Henry Bailey, James Hawkes Lewis, and Lieut. Benja- 
min Tucker were appointed to wait upon him. This call 
he declined on November 14. The following letter and 
petition were sent to him upon the receipt of his non- 
acceptance: — 

Stoughton, Dec- 16, 1784. 
To Mr. Aaron Bancroft: 

Dear Sir, — Agreeable to appointment we take the liberty to en- 
close you a copy of an address and petition from the inhabitants of 
the First Parish in Stoughton, by which you are certified of the num- 
ber, and in some degree the warmth, wishes, and attachment of your 


friends ; but to be an eye and ear witness to their conversation and 
beiiaviour, and to behold the dejected gloom that sets conspicuous 
on their brows, alone and only can give you a proper idea and evince 
the truth of their unhappy disappointment. The enclosed will like- 
wise inform you that the mvidious aspirsions breathed against your 
character by the misled and ill guided few in opposition has been so 
far from prejudicing the minds of the people against you that it hath 
operated quite the reverse, by not only establishing your character 
more firmly in their esteem, but has actually added to the number of 
your friends. We have also the pleasure to inform you that in those 
few opposers that remain, one may plainly read in their dejected 
countenances, compunction, sorrow, and repentance, although that 
misleading spirit that first seduced them as yet keeps them from a 
verbal confession ; but such is the force of truth, and such the appar- 
ent conviction upon their minds, that ere long we imagine they will 
not only look their mistake, but will with their mouths confess it ; but 
be this as it may, it is our firm opinion that there never was a people 
more strongly attached to a preacher than this people are to you, and 
it will never be in your power, we humbly conceive, to confer greater 
happiness than you really would on this people, should you be propi- 
tious to their wishes, and yield to their earnest, sincere, and ardent 
solicitations But if your objections are such as a sad fatality in their 
constitution renders them absolutely insuperable, and we must finally 
loose the man whom the people so emphatically delight to honor, as 
we have but little ground to hope or expect otherwise, yet we hope 
our endeavors will not be wholly lost, but effect to re-establish your 
character in the good opinion of all those who may have been preju- 
diced against you, by the unprovoked abuse and calumny cast upon 
you by the malice, ill-will, or ignorance of your opponents, and clear 
the parish of the reproach of calumniating so bright and illustrious a 
character, the accomplishment of which will be a sufficient compen- 
sation for our trouble, and with wishing you health, prosperity, and 
every happiness you desire, concludes us, Dear sir, your sincere friends 
and humble servants. 

Stoughton, Dec 13, 1784. 
To Mr. Aaron Bancroft : 

Dear Sir, — We whose names are underwritten, inhabitants of the 
First Parish in Stoughton, laboring beneath the weight of disappoint- 
ment, sorrow, and perplexity to which your negative answer to the 
call to settle in the work of the ministry, given by the church and 


congregation of this place, hath subjected us, and being anxious to be 
extricated from such a disagreeable situation, by obtaining still, if pos- 
sible, the man we so highly and so justly esteem, to testify our affec- 
tions and to convince you of our willingness to remove every obstacle 
within our power, have thought fit to further solicit your attention on 
the subject. We have, sir, in the first place to inform, that, concealing 
from us the reasons for which you negatived the above said call, not- 
withstanding they have involved us in great perplexity, hath at the 
same time afforded an alleviating and consolatary hope that the ob- 
stacles on which your reasons were founded are within our power to 
remove ; but as long as your reasons are secreted from us, so long 
must our doubt and perplexity remain, and till the disease is found, 
shall never be able to apply a remedy. Permit us, then, with all 
modesty and submission, to request what those reasons are ; but if 
the particulars are such as would wound the delicacy of your feelings 
to relate, such as your wisdom will direct still to conceal, you may 
nevertheless, and we are persuaded you will, satisfy our inquiry and 
answer our request so far as to inform us whether the obstructions 
that forbid your acceptance are ours to command. If not, we are not 
over anxious to know them, but if in our power, should be happy to 
know, and take a singular satisfaction in removing them. The candor 
and benevolence of your mind will naturally induce you to overlook 
our presumption in importuning you on so tender a subject, especially 
when we assure you it flows from the truest esteem ; and your compli- 
ance with the request will gratify our wishes, and bind on us a great 
and lasting obligation.' 

In a note to a sermon delivered in Worcester, Jan. 31, 1836, 
by Aaron Bancroft, D.D., at the termination of fifty years of 
his ministry, we find the following interesting narration: — 

" In the spring of 1784 I supplied the pulpit in Stoughton, now 
Canton, for eight Sabbaths. Their pastor, the Rev. Mr. Dunbar, had 
then recently died. He was a thorough Calvinist, and had sedulously 
inculcated that system on his people for more than fifty years. Learn- 
ing that measures were in train of operation to give me an invitation 
to become their minister, and not being inclined to settle with them, 
I was disposed to put an end to their movements by a public mani- 
festation that my views of the doctrines of the New Testament were 
opposed to those they had been accustomed to hear from tlieir former 

1 See Appendix XXVI. 


pastor, and in which I supposed they were confirmed. I composed 
and delivered three sermons, liberal to the extent of my faith. The 
effect was directly conti-ary to my expectation. The parish gave me 
a call ; and only five individuals, and these old men, appeared in oppo- 
sition. I was constrained to give a negative answer." 

It may be stated in passing that Mr. Bancroft in October, 
1784, received a call to settle at Worcester, which he accepted ; 
but the town refused to concur with the church, consequently 
Mr. Bancroft's friends formed a second church, and he was 
installed as their pastor in 1786, and continued preaching 
there for half a century. He was born Nov. 10, 1755, and 
died Aug. 19, 1839. He graduated at Harvard College in 
1778, and received the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He 
was the author of a " Life of Washington," and the father of 
George Bancroft, the historian. 

Zachariah Howard was born in Bridgewater, May 21, 1758. 
He was the son of Robert and Abigail (Snell) Howard. In 
early life he attended the schools in his native town ; and 
when the war of independence broke out, he enlisted as a 
common soldier, and served during the whole war with credit 
to himself, but probably with serious injury to his physical 
organization. On his return from the army, he entered Har- 
vard College, and received the honors of that university in 
1784. On Dec. 18, 1785, he began to preach; and in May, 
1786, he was invited by the church in Stoughton to become 
their pastor. On the 29th of May the inhabitants of the first 
precinct assembled at the meeting-house and voted to concur 
with the church in giving Mr. Howard a call to take the pas- 
toral care of the church. They voted to give him ;^90 as 
an annual salary, and a gratuity of ;£^200, to lay a foundation 
for his comfortable and honorable support, half to be paid 
the first year and half the second year after his settlement. 
Ten cords of fire-wood were granted him annually while he 
remained single, and twenty cords should he have a family or 
keep house for himself. 

The copies of the votes of the precinct, with the call of 
the church, were duly conveyed to the minister-elect by 


James Endicott, George Grossman, Samuel Tucker, Henry 
Bailey, James Hawkes Lewis, and Adam Blackman; and on 
the 25 th day of September, the precinct again assembled, 
when the following was read from Mr. Howard : — 

To the Church and Congregation in y North Parish in Stoughton : 

Brethren and Friends, — Having taken under mature and serious 
consideration y° call which you have given me to settle with you in y° 
Work of -f Gospel Ministry, thinking it my Duty, I heartily accept 
thereof, tho' it is not without Fear and Trembling that I think of tak- 
ing upon me y° Weighty, y= Solemn, and Important Charge. If 
-f greatest of y' Apostles, while he thought of y' momentous under- 
taking, was obliged to cry out, who is equal to these things, you must 
be sensible that an unexperienced youth will not only stand in Need 
of y" greatest Candor and Friendship from y' People of his Charge, 
but more especially of an Interest in the Prayers of y* Throne of Grace 
for Divine aid and assistance. Let me therefore intreat of you to 
make it your Prayer to Almighty God, with whom is y° Residue of 
y" Spirit of all Grace, that I may in every Respect fulfil y° office of a 
faithful Minister of y° new Testament, that during my Labors among 
you I might approve myself unto God and y" "Conscience of Men to 
be in Reality a Servant of Jesus Christ, and that I might at all times 
take such heed to my Life and Doctrines as to save myself and them 
that hear me. The perfect union and happy agreement that has been 
and still subsists among you has been a great inducement to my 
accepting of your invitation. The kindness and repeated marks of 
Friendship that I have already received from Individuals and y'= So- 
ciety at large flatter me that you will cheerfully contribute everything 
necessary on your part to my comfortable and honorable support 
among you. You must not, indeed you cannot, rationally expect to 
find in me, at present, if ever, a full and complete Reparation of 
y* great Loss which you sustained in y° Death of your late worthy 
Pastor. As successor to such a Man, I am fully sensible that I must 
appear to disadvantage. His illustrious example will be a stimulous to 
Duty, and, I hope, in many respects beneficial ; but had Nature been 
impartial in y" Distribution of her Favors, it would require time and 
much experience to equal his attainments. But as y" great Shepherd 
of Israel, y^ kind Parent of the Universe, requires of each and all his 
servants in exact proportion to what he hath given unto them, I 
trust that having an Interest in your Prayers, I shall not neglect y= 


Gift that is in me, but be enabled to improve it to y° Honor of God 
and Benefit of y= Church ; finally, Brethren, pray for me, pray for your- 
selves. Let it not only be y'= Study of your lives, but your daily prayers 
that we may each and all of us know what is y" good and acceptable 
and perfect Will of our God, but ever have an heart and Disposition 
to perform it; that this Sacred and Solemn connection which we 
are about to form may be a mutual Blessing, that we might not only 
live comfortably together' here in this world, but have a joyful meeting 
at y'= Bar of Almighty God, where I must shortly appear to give an 
account of my ministry, and you of y' improvement you make of it. 

Wishing you Grace, Mercy, and Peace in our Lord Jesus Christ, 
I subscribe myself your devoted Friend and humble servant, 

Zachariah Howard. 
Sept. 17, 1786. 

At the same meeting, which was presided over by Col. 
Benjamin Gill, the answer of the invitation having been read, 
preparations were at once made for Mr. Howard's ordination, 
and it was thought best that the council should consist of ten 
churches. A committee was chosen consisting of Elijah 
Dunbar, Esq., Col. Benjamin Gill, James Endicott, Esq., Mr. 
Henry Bailey, and Capt. John Tucker, to provide for the 
ordination council ; and Redman Spurr, George Grossman, Jr., 
Nathan Gill, Archibald McKendry, John Clark, and Nathaniel 
Kenney were chosen a committee to secure seats for the coun- 
cil, church, and singers on Ordination Day. It was decided 
that the services should take place on the 25th day of the 
next month. Accordingly, on that day, Oct. 25, 1786, Zach- 
ariah Howard was ordained as the third minister of the First 
Church in Stoughton. In the services the following gentle- 
men took part: The Rev. Peter Thacher, of Boston, intro- 
duced the solemnities with prayer. The Rev. John Porter, 
of Bridgewater, preached the sermon. The Rev. Jason 
Haven, of Dedham, made the ordaining prayer. Rev. Jede- 
diah Adams, of Stoughton, gave the charge. Rev. Thomas 
Thacher, of Dedham, gave the right hand of fellowship. 
Rev. Nathaniel Robbins, of Milton, made the concluding 
prayer. The following gentlemen assisted at the council: 
the Rev. Moses Taft, of Braintree, Rev. Joseph Jackson, 


of Brookline, Rev. Philip Curtis, of Sharon, Rev. Jabez 
Chickering, of Dedham, and Rev. John Reed, of Bridge- 
water. After the exercises, covers were laid for one hun- 
dred and twenty-four persons, most of whom probably were 
invited guests frorii neighboring towns. The parish seemed 
willing to do all in its power to have everything satisfactory 
at the start : the meeting-house was put in repair ; the roof 
was shingled, and the sides and ends were repaired ; the sum 
of ;^i87 was advanced to Mr. Howard, as the first moiety of 
his settlement. Mr. Howard bought, in 1787, from Theophi- 
lus Lyon, the house now standing on the estate of Colonel 
Higginson, and occupied by the gardener; it was a very old 
house, originally built by David Tilden. The farm consisted 
of twenty-seven acres, bounded on the south by Pequit Brook ; 
to this he added on the north thirty-seven acres, being 
the land on Washington Street now owned by Mr. Samuel C. 
Downes. It was a large farm, but Mr. Howard was a good 
farmer, and thoroughly understood how to manage it. 

Soon after coming to Stoughton, March 6, 1787, Mr. Howard 
was married to Miss Patty Crafts. The writer well remem- 
bers visiting this lady, when he was a boy. She resided in 
the same house then that she had occupied in the happy 
days when her husband was the honored young minister of 
the town. Her books were around her; and annually she 
read the favorite poem of her husband, " Paradise Lost." 
Her kindness was extreme, as was her thoughtfulness for 
the dumb creatures which surrounded her. She had a small 
staircase made in order that her favorite* cats might have 
access at all times to the upper story of her house. 

A writer in the " Norfolk County Gazette " relates the 
following anecdote of Mr. Howard : — 

" I remember that we then, as we rode on, discoursed of the whip- 
poorwill i and one of us, Mr. Tucker, related this anecdote of Min- 
ister Howard of tfle old church in Canton, whose house is still standing 
in a sweet valley on Pleasant Street. Mr. Howard was, in his way, 
a dry joker He was a fair type and representative of the pastors of 
the latter part of the eighteenth and the beginning of the present 


" ' Mr. Huntoon,' said Elias Tucker, ' will tell you that Mr. Howard 
was a man of good common-sense ; for one night he had been out visit- 
ing among the neighbors, — ah, how much that meant in those, to us, 
"old times" ! — and on coming home he found his wife very sad and 
dispirited ; and in his good-natured way, he accosted her with, 
"Martha, what is the matter?" "Oh, Mr. Howard, something 
dreadful is going to happen. Why, a whippoorwill came and sat 
upon our doorstep, and sung since you have been out ! " " Oh, if 
that is all," replied the parson, "don't be troubled, my dear, for if the 
Lord has any message to communicate to me, he must send a more 
important messenger than the whippoorwill. I shall pay no attention 
to it." ' " 

In 1787 the church was much excited by a claim for a part 
of the church land ; an action against Nathaniel Stearns, 
brought by Deacons Dunbar and Gill, in behalf of the 
church, placed the matter in a way to be amicably settled. 

Samuel Briggs excused himself from attending open public 
worship and communion, " for want of decent apparel ; " the 
church decided that this was an insufficient excuse. In 
1790 Henry Bailey was dissatisfied with the method of 
baptism ; but a committee of the church waiting upon and 
laboring with him, he waived his objections. 

In 1805 Mr. Howard addressed a letter to the town re- 
specting the depreciated state of the currency and his suffer- 
ing in consequence thereof. On May 6 the town appointed 
a very large committee to take into consideration the com- 
plaint, and also to decide the propriety of purchasing a part 
of Mr. Howard's real estate for a parsonage. The town 
voted Mr. Howard an addition of $150 for the ensuing four 

On Feb. 23, 1806, Mr. Howard, dressed in gown and bands, 
with his braided queue, ascended for the last time the pulpit- 
stairs and preached all day. He gave the benediction ; then, 
while the audience remained standing, he passed, bowing to 
the right and left, down the broad aisle to the door, the 
elders returning his salutation as he moved on. The next 
Sunday he was obliged to dismiss the congregation. His' 
work was done. The following Sunday Mr. Crafts preached ; 


and from this time forward, the place he had filled for twenty 
years was occupied by his brethren in the ministry, — Kim- 
ball, Richmond, Gilmore, Harris, — who had been selected 
by the parish committee; and when no preacher could be 
obtained, " Deacon Dunbar read to y° assembly by y° desire 
of y° Committee." 

On the 1 6th of September, r8o6, when the inhabitants of 
Canton were in town meeting convened, it was represented to 
them that the Rev. Mr. Zachariah Howard apparently was 
about making his exit from this world. A committee was 
immediately appointed, who, upon the decease of Mr. How- 
ard, were to make suitable and honorable arrangements for 
his funeral, " both as respects our relation to him as a people 
and also as respects him as our pastor and teacher." 

Priest Howard, as he was commonly called, died on the i8th 
of September, 1806. The committee appointed by the town 
attended to the duties intrusted to them ; they propped up 
the galleries of the church, knowing that the crowd on the 
day of the services would be very large. To the Rev. Mr. 
Babcock they gave a pair of gloves and •' a mourning ring," 
for his assistance at the obsequies. 

Mr. Howard was buried in the old cemetery, and half a 
century later his wife was placed by his side. The following 
are the inscriptions on their headstones : — 


of the 

Rev. Zachariah Howard, 

who died 

SEPT. 18, 1806. 

M 48 years. 

' Here in the grave, 't is heaven's high behest, 
Releas'd from mortal toil my flesh finds rest. 
Here shall I sleep, 'till time itself shall end, 
And Christ to wake the dead from heaven descend; 
Then from the dust, death vanquished, I shall rise. 
And gentle Seraphs bear me to the skies." 



wife of 

Rev. Zachariah Howard, 

DIED MARCH ii, 1856. 

JE 95 yrs. and 8 mos. 

" This mortal hath put on immortality." 

Mr. Howard was a man of eminent sincerity and uprightness, 
of a pleasant, social, afifectionate disposition, easy and famil- 
iar in his manners, always ready to perform every good 
office of morality and religion, and strictly conscientious in 
the discharge of the duties of his station. He was a very 
strong man physically. Once, seeing five men attempting 
to place a large stone in a wall, he asked them to stand 
aside, and with ease lifted the stone to its proper position. 
He was ever attentive to the wants of the needy and afflicted. 
His intercourse with his parishioners was free from that 
formality which checks every expression of the spontane- 
ous feelings of the heart. He did not paint religion in the 
dark and forbidding colors of austerity and sadness. To 
him it appeared in the smiling attitude of cheerfulness and 
hope. His piety was deep and sincere, but not ostenta- 
tious; it was not a sudden glow of rapture, but a calm, 
serene, and steady habit of the soul. Mr. Howard held 
a respectable stand as a writer and a scholar. His talents 
were esteemed more solid than brilliant. In his public 
discourses he aimed rather at utility than ornament. He 
was more solicitous to enlighten the understanding than 
to amuse the fancy. His manner was solemn and impressive. 
The undisputed doctrines of religion, repentance, faith, love, 
and obedience constituted the burden of his preaching.^ It 
has been said by the Hon. Thomas French, who knew him 
well, that when he saw Mr. Howard in the pulpit, he could 
not but imagine him to be the original from which Cowper 
drew his description of the village preacher : — 

1 See Appendix XXVII. 



" I would express him simple, grave, sincere ; 
In doctrine uncorrupt; in language, plain ; 
And plain in manner, — decent, solemn, chaste; 
And natural in gesture ; much impress'd 
Himself, as conscious of his awful charge, 
And anxious that the flock he feeds 
May feel it too ; affectionate in loolt. 
And tender in address, as well becomes 
A messenger of grace to guilty men." 





THE name of Downes is one of great antiquity in our 
town. The first of the name was Edward, who came 
from Ireland. On March ii, 1724, he married Ruth, the 
daughter of James and Abigail (Newton) Puffer ; she was 
born March 16, 1704, and died April 22, 1790. Edward 
went to housekeeping under Blue Hill ; and in 1727 we find 
him on the first tax list. On July 18, 1736, " a collection was 
made for the poor and needy wife and children of Edward 
Downes, who, having left them and gone to sea," Mr. Dun- 
bar describes, with a dim recollection of Lamentations float- 
ing in his memory, " as being worse than a sea-monster, 
that draws forth its breast to its young." 

But his absence at this time was temporary. In 1740 his 
name appears in the company of Capt. Thomas Phillips, 
who went, or enlisted to go, in the expedition to Carthagena. 
Mrs. Downes was spoken of as the wife of Edward in 1742, 
when John Puffer, Jr., furnished her with " house-room and 
fire-wood ; " and her son Edward was born on February 26 
of that year. In 1744 Edward Downes went to the eastward 
and never returned ; one year later his wife was called a 
widow, and " had neglected to put her children out, and was 
reduced to great want." In 1751 her daughter Miriam mar- 
ried the celebrated composer, Jacob French. The closing 
years of her life were cheered by a legacy from John New- 
ton, of Milton. 

Her son Edward married for his first wife, Meriam Jordan, 
who was born March 25, 1745, and died March 25, 1777. 
March 9, 1780, he married Rhoda Billings, and died at Fran- 


cestown, N. H., March 4, 1800; he was a Heutenant in the 
War of the Revolution. He had a son Jesse, who was born 
on the site where the house of Frank M. Ames now stands. 
April 3, 1764, he married Naomi, daughter of John and 
Hepzibah (Kenney) Taunt. In 1784 he enlisted as a private 
in the company of Captain Handley in the Ninth Massachu- 
setts Regiment. 

In a little house, near the corner of Pecunit and Elm 
streets, on the southerly side of the former street, on the 
23d of December, 1784, a son was born to them, who 
was, by his faithful adherence to duty, his zeal and wisdom 
displayed in public trusts, his upright and irreproachable 
character, to become one of the brightest ornaments of the 
United States Naval Service. As a child in arms he attended 
the funeral of Preserved Lyon on July 16, 1785, from whom 
he was descended in the fifth generation. 

Though Jesse Downes was a worthy citizen, he was not able 
to procure for .his son as good an education as he would have 
liked, and when John, the future commodore, was a lad of 
fourteen years, he was obliged to repair to Boston to seek 
his fortune. His father was at this time purser's steward on 
board the " Constitution," and was allowed a waiter ; this 
position he gave to John. The " Constitution " was com- 
manded by Captain Silas Talbot, who had superintended its 
construction; it had been his flagship in 1799, during a cruise 
in the West Indies. Talbot, observing in young Downes 
evidence of uncommon ability, said to the father, " Downes, 
[ must have that boy." The boy was transferred to the cap- 
tain, who gave him opportunities to improve himself in study 
which young Downes gladly availed himself of. It is related 
that on one occasion, when it was the duty of the boys to 
serve a gun, two of them proved unfaithful, and John not 
only did his own duty, but that of the two delinquents. This 
incident and the general good conduct of Downes were so 
pleasing to the commander that at the expiration of the 
cruise of the " Constitution," in 1802, a midshipman's warrant 
was offered to him, he having been appointed acting mid- 
shipman two years before. 


In 1803 Midshipman Downes was ordered to the frigate 
" New York," bound to Tripoli. In a gallant attack made by 
Lieutenant Porter on the Tripolitan feluccas, Midshipman 
Downes is mentioned as one of three that particularly distin- 
guished themselves. During the years 1804-1806 he was on 
the " Congress," " Constitution," and " Spitfire." In January, 
1807, he was appointed lieutenant, and ordered on duty on 
board the " Wasp." In 18 12 he sailed from Delaware Bay in 
the " Essex," under Commodore Porter ; and while cruising 
in that vessel, on the 29th of April, three ships were sighted. 
One of these was the " Montezuma," which was soon cap- 
tured ; but a calm coming on, the other two could not be 
approached. Lieutenant Downes was despatched to capture 
them by boarding. As the heavy row-boats drew near, the 
ships hoisted the English flag and fired several shots. The 
signal was given for boarding ; and when Lieutenant Downes 
was within a few yards of the gangway, he ordered her to 
surrender. She thereupon hauled down her colors ; some of 
Downes's men were put on board ; and he made for her com- 
panion. She also surrendered ; and they proved to be the 
British ships " Georgianna" and " Poltey." Commodore Porter 
ordered two guns to be placed on the former, and equipping 
her completely, placed her under command of Lieutenant 
Downes, with a crew of forty-one men. The vessels pro- 
ceeded in company a few days, when Downes was ordered on 
an expedition to Albemarle. A few days after, the " Rose " 
and " Catherine," two British ships, approached the " Georgi- 
anna," without the slightest suspicion that she was an enemy. 
They were captured, and prize crews put on board each. In 
the afternoon another warlike vessel was discovered, which 
was Eitfirst supposed to be a Spaniard ; on getting nearer, she 
proved to be the " Hector." She was ordered to surrender, 
but her commander refused; whereupon a shot which did 
her considerable damage was delivered. By order of Downes, 
five broadsides were poured into her; whereupon she struck 
her flag, and a prize crew was put on board. Meanwhile, 
Porter had captured the " Atlantic," — a ship far superior to 
the "Georgianna" as a cruiser; and on Downes rejoining 


him, her name was changed to the " Essex," and Downes was 
placed in command. 

The two ships, the " Essex" and the " Essex Junior," sailed 
October 2 for the Washington Islands ; but on the 6th, Cap- 
tain Porter ordered Lieutenant Downes to make for the Mar- 
quesas Islands, for the purpose of intercepting a valuable 
ship, and rejoin him at Nooaheevak, one of the Washington 
Islands. Nothing material occurred until the junction at the 
place appointed. At a place called Madison Island Lieuten- 
ant Downes engaged in a daring battle with the Hippans, 
thousands in number, while Downes had but a handful of 
men. The natives assailed him with stones and spears, but 
he gallantly drove them before him. Here he was wounded ; 
and in another battle with the Typees, his left leg was broken. 
In February, 1814, the "Essex" and the "Essex Junior" 
arrived at Valparaiso ; here the " Essex," after a terrible 
carnage, was captured. At this time Lieutenant Downes was 
suffering very severely from his wound, and could not walk 
except by the aid of crutches. In the thickest of the fight, 
however, he left the " Essex Junior," and pulled through all 
the terrible fire to the " Essex," to receive the orders of his 
commanding officer. He could be of no use on board the 
" Essex," and after a time was directed to return to his own 
vessel and defend her, if possible; if not, to destroy her. 
Lieutenant Downes received from the Secretary of the Navy 
a highly complimentary letter in relation to his conduct in 
the Pacific. In September, 1814, he was appointed master 
commandant, and in October placed in command of the 
" Epervier." After the war with England, this vessel formed 
one of Commodore Decatur's squadron in the Mediterranean ; 
and on June 17, 1815, Downes, while in command, captured 
the large Algerine frigate " Nashouda." After the bursting 
of the main-deck gun of the " Guerriere," she ranged ahead 
out of action, and the Algerine put his helm hard up ; and 
but for the daring and skilful handling of the " Epervier," the 
Algerine might have escaped. But she finally surrendered, 
after having received a broadside from the " Epervier," within 
pistol-shot. Decatur declared that he had never seen ma- 


noeuvring of a vessel equal to that of the " Epervier." 
Downes was at once transferred to the command of the 
" Guerri^re," and from her to the " Ontario." 

In May, 1817, a naval ball was given at Everett's Hall, in 
Canton, which the invitations announce " will be honored by 
the attendance of Captain Downs." The committee of 
arrangements consisted of William Dunbar, Thomas French, 
Thomas Tolman, Bethuel Drake, William Tucker, and Luther 

In June, 18 18, Downes was appointed captain, and was 
placed in command of the frigate " Macedonian." It was 
during this cruise that he came near losing his life by as- 
sassination at Callao. After forcing this port in the face of 
Cochrane's squadron, he was lying there when the Peruvian 
frigate " Esmeralda " was cut out by Lord Cochrane. Sus- 
pecting some collusion between Downes and Cochrane, the 
soldiery attacked the market-boats of the " Macedonian " and 
sought the life of Captain Downes, who was at that time in 
Lima. He only escaped by disguising himself as a monk, 
begging his way down until within running distance of his 
boat, there waiting for him in the bay. Then throwing off 
his disguise, he ran for his life and escaped. 

In July, 1 83 1, he was ordered to hoist his flag on board the 
" Potomac " as commodore of the Pacific squadron. He 
proceeded by the way of Quallah Batoo (Sumatra) for the 
purpose of punishing the Malaj'^s for their frequent depreda- 
tions on our commerce, but particularly for their attack on 
the American ship " Friendship " and the massacre of her 
crew. That he thoroughly accomplished this is not doubted 
by any who remember reading the accounts published at the 
time. He landed his crew, stormed and destroyed the forts, 
and obliged the Malays to sue for peace and pardon. He 
met with a very small loss in killed and wounded. The diffi- 
culty of this undertaking may be better understood when it is 
remembered that an English squadron at the same place 
had, only a short time previous, been ignominiously defeated, 
the ships utterly disabled, and all their crews killed on shore 
in the attack. In this cruise he circumnavigated the globe, 


and finished, in 1834, his sea service, having been actively 
engaged therein for thirty-four years and upwards. On shore 
duty he served thirteen years and eight months, and during 
this time he was twice commandant at the Charlestown Navy- 
Yard, and served with distinction on many important courts- 

Obedience to superior orders ceases to be a duty the mo- 
ment those orders endanger life and general safety. Pressing 
cases like the following may occur where a subaltern is aware 
of something unknown to his officer, and must act before he 
has time to explain. The " Army and Naval Journal " tells 
the story: — 

In 1833 the typhoon of the Northern Pacific was not as 
well understood as it is now, and that sea was little known to 
our naval vessels. In that year the " Potomac," commanded 
by Commodore John Downes, was crossing its waters on a 
cruise around the world. 

Reuben R. Pinkham was her third lieutenant, a thorough 
sailor; born in a Northern whaling port, he had made several 
voyages to the North Pacific as a whaler, and was compara- 
tively familiar with that region, where the other oflScers were 
strangers. He and Commodore Downes have both been 
long dead. 

The day was drawing to a close ; Pinkham had the watch, 
and the Commodore was walking the deck. The wind, which 
before was fresh, had increased to a gale ; topgallant sails 
were handed, topsails reefed, and spanker brailed up, when 
all at once Pinkham gave the order, — 

" Man the weather head-braces, weather main-brace, weather 
maintopsail-brace, lee cross-jack braces ! " 

" What is that for, Mr. Pinkham ? " asked the Commodore. 

" We shall have the wind out here in a moment, sir," said 
Pinkham, stretching his arm out and pointing to the leeward. 

With that the Commodore ran over to the lee rail, and 
looked anxiously out in the direction indicated. Presently 
he returned and said, — 

" I see no signs of it, Mr. Pinkham ; let the men leave the 


With that a number of the crew dropped the ropes, and 
Pinkham called out, — 

" Keep hold of those braces, every man of you ! " when 
they resumed their grasp. 

The Commodore's face flushed with anger to find his direc- 
tions thus disregarded, and he called out in a peremptory 
tone, — 

" Let the men leave the braces, sir ! " 

Again the crew dropped the ropes from their hands, when 
Pinkham, shaking his trumpet at them, exclaimed, ^ — 

" Don't any of you dare to let go of those ropes ! " 

At that moment the wind 'did not die away, but stopped, 
and the sails flapped against the masts. Raising his trumpet 
to his lips, Pinkham shouted, "Haul taut! Haul off all!" 
and the ponderous yards swung to a reversed direction. 

They had hardly done so when the wind came out from 
the opposite quarter, and struck the ship like a sledge-ham- 
mer. She bent before it, but shaking the spray from her 
bows, dashed forward unharmed. 

Commodore Downes said not a word, but rushed into his 
cabin ; and presently the orderly came up to Mr. Pinkham 
and said the Commodore wished him to send to the first lieu- 
tenant to relieve him for a few minutes, as he wished to see 
him in the cabin. 

Entering the cabin, Pinkham found the Commodore seated 
by a table. 

" Mr. Pinkham," he exclaimed, " I consider myself indebted 
to you for my own life and for the lives of all on board this 
ship. Had you not hauled the yards just when you did, the 
ship would have gone down stern foremost. But I tell you 
frankly that had the wind not come out as you predicted, I 
would have put you under arrest in two minutes." 

" Commodore Downes," replied Lieutenant Pinkham, " I 
did not intend any disrespect, and I should be sorry if you 
thought I did ; but I have been in these seas before, and am 
familiar with these sudden changes of wind. I saw undoubtful 
indications of such change then, and knew that I had no 
time for explanation." 


As a patriot, the zeal and wisdom of Commodore Downes 
were of great service to his country, while in social life he was 
a genial and courteous gentleman. His last words were, " I 
am ready ; " and one who knew him wrote that he was — 

" ' Read)' ' through all life's changing mood, 
With steadfast heart the brave man stood, 
' Ready ' 'mid battle's fiery shower, 
' Ready ' in fortune's smiling hour ; 
And when the last dread summons came, 
' Ready ' in his great Captain's name." 

Among the earliest recollections of the writer connected 
with Canton is seeing Commodore Downes pass, with the 
firm tread of an officer, along our country roads. It was 
ever his delight to return to the place of his birth, and pass 
among the scenes of his boyhood, with his surviving relatives, 
what little leisure he could snatch from the active duties of 
his position. 

Commodore John Downes died Aug. 11, 1854; and his 
body was deposited in Mount Auburn, and followed to 
the grave by men distinguished in the service of the 
State and nation. The Secretary of the Navy " ordered the 
flags of the navy-yards, stations, and vessels of the United 
States Navy to be hoisted at half-mast, and a commodore's 
salute of thirteen guns fired at noon on the day after the 
receipt of the order." " Of the thousands whose ashes re- 
pose within the hallowed precincts of that consecrated gar- 
den, there is not one who in life could more justly lay claim 
to the character of a gallant ofiftcer and an upright man." 

An old-fashioned hip-roofed house, which stood nearly 
opposite the Commodore's birthplace, built about 1810 by 
Luther and Simeon Crane, was purchased by the Commo- 
dore. It was situated on a commanding position, and sur- 
rounded with fine trees. It passed into the possession of 
Mr. Ebenezer Turner, and was in later years an attractive 
resort for summer boarders, commonly known as Bartlett's. 
It was burned June 8, 1882. 




THE desire to have the town of Stoughton divided did not 
originate in that part now Canton. In 1782 the pre- 
cinct now Stoughton voted to take measures to divide the 
town; and Thomas Crane, Esq., Major Robert Swan, Capt. 
Jedediah Southworth, Capt. Peter Talbot, and Capt. James 
Pope were appointed a committee of consultation. It was 
suggested at one time to call the proposed new town " Free- 
dom; " but a few days later the name " Danbury" seems to 
have been preferred. The General Court were, at first, in 
favor of granting the petition; but a counter petition pre- 
vented such action. 

On the 1 8th of April, 1782, a town meeting was held, the 
second article in the warrant for which was " To hear the 
petition of Benjamin Bird and others praying for a division 
of the town into two townships'." 

Mr. Elijah Dunbar in his diary under date of Feb. 3, 1783, 
writes, " Southworth here about having the Parish set off; 
self and Southworth walk to Boston and attend General 
Court." In 1783 a petition was presented by the inhab- 
itants of the present Stoughton desiring that one third of the 
town meetings might be held in that part of the town. 

The inhabitants of the first precinct, which comprised the 
territory now Canton, appear as early as 1793 to have dis- 
cussed in parish meeting the expediency of separating from 
Stoughton. An article was inserted in the warrant " to see 
if y'^ town will vote to. set off y= First Parish in Stoughton, 
as it is now bounded, as a distinct and separate town." The 
inhabitants appeared to be in favor of the measure ; and on 


the 27th of May the parish voted that Nathaniel Fisher, Ben- 
jamin Gill, Nathan Crane, Capt. Elijah Crane, and Henry 
Bailey be a committee to present to the General Court their 
petition that the First Parigh may be incorporated as a sepa- 
rate town. The parish, however, desired that the original 
petition should be amended, and appointed James Endicott, 
William Wheeler, Joseph Bemis, and Adam Blackman to 
attend to the matter. On the 13th of June the petition was 
presented to the General Court. On the i6th of September 
the order of notification having been served upon the town, 
a committee was appointed to appear before the General 
Court and support the petition. By order of the General 
Court, passed June 26, 1794, a map of the town of Stoughton 
was drawn by Nathaniel Fisher, surveyor. 

The movement for division progressed slowly. A com- 
mittee of conference, consisting of sixteen, and a subsequent 
committee of twenty-three, attempted to harmonize jarring 
interests. In 1795 the First Parish again appointed a com- 
mittee to prepare a petition for a division of Stoughton. 
This committee consisted of Elijah Dunbar, Esq., Col. Na- 
than Crane, Joseph Bemis, Esq., Col. Benjamin Gill, and Capt. 
Elijah Crane. They prepared the petition as requested. In 
it they allege — 

'•' that the town of Stoughton is very singular, being eleven miles in 
length and about four miles in breadth ; that there is a large body of 
land lying upon and contiguous to the line between the North and 
South Parishes, whicii is and always will be incapable of any valuable 
improvement, which throws the bulk of the inhabitants of said Parishes 
at a great distance from each other, — which peculiar circumstance 
makes it always inconvenient and sometimes impracticable for the 
inhabitants of either of said Parishes to attend Town meeting as they 
have been held for some years last past, by reason of the great dis- 
tance of way, and sometimes impassable roads." 

This petition,^ signed by one hundred and forty-three in- 
habitants of the First Parish, on the personal solicitation of 
Col. Benjamin Gill was presented to the General Court on 

1 See Appendix XXVIII. 


the iith of June, 1795, by Col. Nathan Crane, Capt. Elijah 
Crane, and Col. Benjamin Gill. The second precinct had in 
the mean time not been idle. It appointed Samuel Talbot, 
Samuel Shepard, Joseph Richards, and James Pope a com- 
mittee to do all in their power to prevent the secession of the 
elder parish. The result was a remonstrance headed by 
Lemuel Drake, with a following of one hundred and sixty- 
nine legal voters, which was presented on the 13th of Janu- 
ary, 1796, to the General Court. Aug. 26, 1796, Hon. Seth 
Bullard, of Walpole, Judge Bullock, of Rehoboth, and John 
Hewins, of Sharon, who had been directed by the General 
Court to repair to the town of Stoughton, to view and con- 
sider the expediency of dividing it, met the selectmen at the 
house of Capt. Elijah Crane, innholder, and the matter was 
discussed vigorously for four days. Their report, made to 
the General Court on September 3, was favorable to the di- 
vision. On December 5 of this year another committee was 
appointed to prepare an Act of Incorporation. This com- 
mittee consisted of men who had long been prominent in 
affairs, and whose judgment and experience made them the 
most influential citizens of what was soon to be the town 
of Canton, — James Endicott, Esq., Elijah Dunbar, Esq., Col. 
Benjamin Gill, Joseph Bemis, Esq., Col. Nathan Crane, Capt 
Elijah Crane, Capt. William Bent, Deacon Benjamin Tucker, 
Adam Blackman, and William Wheeler. The original Act 
of Incorporation, in the handwriting of James Endicott, was 
completed at the house of Capt. Elijah Crane, on January 9, 
and does not differ materially from the Act as finally passed. 
It was read to the parish, and accepted, subject to such 
alterations and amendments as the committee might deem 

On Dec. 6, 1796, the wisdom of the parish decided that 
the name of the new town should be Canton. It has been a 
matter of much conjecture why the town was so called. It 
has frequently been asked whether this name was petitioned 
for, and whether it was given to the town on account of the 
China trade, which was at the time of its incorporation be- 
coming important? To these questions a negative answer 


must be returned. The naming of the town was the whim 
of one individual, — a petson of such prominence that his 
opinion had great weight. It is related that when the ques- 
tion of a name for the new town was discussed, the Hon. 
Elijah Dunbar said that this town was directly antipodal to 
Canton in China, and for that reason should be so called. 
This argument, fallacious as it was, served to convince those 
who probably had nothing better to offer ; and so this name, 
unmeaning and without any historical associations, was 
adopted. Again, it may be asked, " Why was the ancient 
and honorable name of Stoughton not kept by the old and 
long-established settlement, and some other name given to 
the second precinct, the comparatively newly settled neigh- 
borhood ? " The answer would appear to be that as the 
inhabitants in the first precinct were now anxious for the 
separation, they were willing to sacrifice their honorable 
name and historic associations for the sake of an independent 
municipal government. Had the town retained the aborig- 
inal name Ponkapoag, or had the name of one of the signers 
to the petition been given to it, or had the town been called 
" Gridley " or " Sherman," it would have been a worthy trib- 
ute to the valuable services of our distinguished townsmen. 
As it is, Canton in Massachusetts must bear its name in 
common with the Cantons in Arkansas, Connecticut, Dakota, 
Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, two in Kentucky, 
Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mon- 
tana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, 
West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

On the 23d of February, 1797, Canton was made a separate 
town agreeable to — 

" An Act to divide the town of Stoughton, in the county of Nor- 
folk, and to incorporate the northerly part thereof into a town by the 
name of Canton. 

" Section I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Repre- 
sentatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the 
same, That all the north part of the town of Stoughton, in the county 
of Norfolk, on the northerly side of the following described line, be 
incorporated into a town by the name of Canton, beginning at the 


Parish line between the first and second parishes in the town of 
Stoughton, at the westerly line of Randolph, thence running westerly 
on said Parish-line, until it comes to the road leading from the first 
to the second parish in said Stoughton, near Ephraim Smith's, thence 
northerly by said road to Ephraim Smith's lane, so called ; thence 
westerly by said lane until it comes to said Smith's land, then south- 
erly and westerly in the range of the said Smith's and Lemuel Gay's 
land, until it comes to Steep-brook, so called; then on said brook 
a southerly course until it comes to Moses Gay's land ; thence in the 
range of the said Gay's and Smith's land, until it comes to the land 
belonging to Elijah Dunbar, Esq. ; thence in the range of said Dun- 
bar's and Gay's land, until it comes to land belonging to William 
Holmes; thence in the range of said Holmes' and Dunbar's land, 
until it comes to land belonging to Joseph Belcher ; then in the range 
of said Belcher's and Holmes' land, until it comes to the Taunton- 
Road, at the northeasterly comer of the town of Sharon, — with all 
the inhabitants living thereon, be, and hereby are incorporated into 
a separate town by the name of Canton, with all the powers and privi- 
leges and immunities that towns within this Commonwealth do or 
may enjoy. 

" Sect. II. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That 
the inhabitants of the said town of Canton shall pay all the arrears of 
taxes which have been assessed upon them by the town of Stoughton, 
together with their proportion of all debts due from said town of 
Stoughton, and shall be entitled to receive their proportion of all 
debts and monies now due to said town of Stoughton, and also their 
proportionable part of all other property of the said town of Stoughton, 
of what kind or description soever ; and the apportionment of all 
debts, dues, and other public property between the said towns shall 
be made according to their proportion in the last State tax. 

" Sect. III. Whereas, the town of Stoughton has been at a very 
great expense in endeavouring to procure a free and uninterrupted 
passage of a fish called Alewives, up into the ponds called Ponkapoag 
and Massapoag, in the towns of Canton and Sharon, and whereas the 
rivers leading to said ponds do not enter the town of Stoughton ; 
therefore, Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That tlie 
town of Stoughton shall have their proportionable part with the town 
of Canton, of all profits and emoluments that may hereafter arise by 
the Alewife Fishery within the town of Canton, and shall be holden 
to pay their proportion of all costs and charges that may arise on 


account of said Fishery ; and the Fish Committees of the towns of 
Canton and Stoughton shall have the same power of regulating all 
affairs relative to said Fishery, agreeable to such Act or Acts, as is or 
may be passed for regulating the same, which the Committee of the 
town of Stoughton would have had if this Act had never passed. 

" Sect. IV. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That 
Thomas Crane, Esq., be, and he hereby is empowered to issue his 
warrant directed to some principal inhabitant of the town of Canton, 
requiring him to notify and warn the inhabitants of the said town of 
Canton to assemble and meet at some suitable place in said town to 
choose all such town Officers as towns are required to choose in the 
months of March or April annually. 

" And whereas in consequence of the aforesaid division there will 
remain only one Selectman in said town of Stoughton, — 

" Sect. V. Be it enacted. That Jabez Talbot, the Selectman re- 
maining within said town, be, and he is hereby vested with all the 
powers which a majority of said Selectmen would have had so far as 
relates to the calling the annual meetings in the months of March or 
April next. 

" Sect. VI. Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid. That the said 
town of Canton shall pay two pounds two shillings and seven pence, 
on each thousand pounds raised by taxes in this Commonwealth, and 
that the same sum shall be deducted from the proportion that the 
town of Stoughton paid agreeable to the last valuation." 

This Act passed the House, Feb. 22, 1797; on the next 
day it passed the Senate, and was approved by Samuel 
Adams, Governor. 

Pursuant to this Act, Thomas Crane, Esq., who had then 
moved to Milton, issued his warrant directed to Laban Lewis 
under his seal, bearing date at Milton, Feb. 24, 1797, requir- 
ing said Lewis to warn the inhabitants of Canton qualified to 
vote in town affairs to meet at the meeting-house in Canton 
on the 6th day of March, 1797, at one o'clock, p. M., to choose 
town officers. The warrant was duly served and returned, 
and the meeting held, when Elijah Dunbar, Esq., was chosen 
Moderator; Elijah Crane, Town Clerk; and Elijah Crane, 
Deacon Benjamin Tucker, and Col. Nathan Crane, Selectmen 
and Assessors; and Joseph Bemis, Treasurer and Constable. 

Thus by the persistency of strenuous petitioners the new 


town was established. A committee was appointed to 
settle all matters with the mother town. Joseph Bemis, 
who was chairman of the Canton committee, immediately 
wrote to Jabez Talbot, chairman of the Stoughton commit- 
tee, desiring that a conference be held at Landlord Drake's. 
On the Saturday following the receipt of the letter, the com- 
mittee met. It was agreed that the town of Stoughton should 
take the volumes of Laws and Resolves, the ancient books of 
record, the town clerk's desk, treasurer's boxes, and the box 
of weights and measures. The pound was to remain with 
Canton, and the inhabitants of the latter town to have free 
access to the record-books, — a privilege not now needed, 
as Canton has an exact transcript of the ancient Stoughton 
records, and a duplicate copy of its own from that time to 
the present. In 1881 the town adopted a corporate seal.^ 

1 See Appendix XXIX. 

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PONKAPOAG— the spot selected by the town of Dor- 
chester for the home of the Indians, soon to pass into 
the possession of the English settlers, and now the town of 
Canton — is wonderfully endowed by Nature. The face of 
the country is beautifully diversified by hills and vales. Nu- 
merous streams rise within the limits of the town, and widen 
into pon^s, which dot the surface with patches of blue. 

The town of Canton is shaped like a boy's kite, and has 
an area of over twelve thousand, acres, over nineteen square 
miles. It is bounded on the northeast by Milton and Ran- 
dolph; on the southeast by Stoughton; on the south by 
Sharon, and on the west and northwest by Norwood and 
Dedham. The meeting-house at Canton Corner, which is 
near the territorial centre of the town, stands in latitude 
42° io'32."o6; and longitude 71" 08' 22."i3. The distance 
from Washington is 482 miles. It is distant, south 25° west 
from Boston, over the old road, fifteen miles; via Brush Hill 
Turnpike from the Old State-House 13 m. 3 f. 31 r., and as 
the crow flies 12 m. 3 f. 36 r. From the Dedham Court- 
House the meeting-house is distant as the crow flies 5 m. 
2 f. 12 r., S. 165 E., or by the road 6 m. 7 f 10 r. 

From a map of Boston and vicinity, the concentric lines of 
which show the direct distance, it would appear that the elev- 
enth mile from Boston would fall not far from the Ezekiel 
Johnson house on Doty's plain, the twelfth near the English 
Churchyard; the thirteenth near the Eliot trough; the four- 
teenth near Morse's trough; the fifteenth near Gridley's 


The first milestone in Canton, after crossing the line which 
divides that town from Milton, is situated at the foot of the 
great Blue Hill, about equally distant from the Milton line 
and the house now occupied by Mr. Henry Willard, and 
bears the inscription : — 


To Boston 

L. D. 

The letters L. D. are the initials of the person who erected 
it, — Lemuel Davenport, who resided on the Nathan Tucker 
place, and who died July 4, 1802. In a wall a little to the 
south of the entrance to the house occupied by John Gerald, 
stands the thirteenth milestone; it bears upon its face these 
words : — 



To Boston 

John Spare 

No trace exists of the fourteenth milestone ; it was situated 
on the right-hand side of the highway, between the old Bemis 
house and Potash meadow. The stone probably lies buried 
under the modern wall. The fifteenth milestone, after having 
undergone various vicissitudes, stands with no date, with its 
rough letters, on the east of the highway, near the line that 
divides the Catholic Cemetery from the adjacent lot, and is 
marked: — 



Prof. Nathaniel S. Shaler, in speaking of the hills of East- 
ern Massachusetts, says : — 

" These mountains have, by the frequent visitations of glacial pe- 
riods, been worn down to their foundations, so that there is little in 
the way of their original reliefs to be traced. They are princi- 


pally marked in the altitude of that part of their rocks that have 
escaped erosion. The Sharon and the Blue Hills are, however, the 
wasted remnants of a great anticlinal, or ridge, that bordered the 
Boston valley on the south,. ... If we could . restore the rocks that 
have been taken away by decay, these mountain-folds would much 
exceed the existing AUeghanies in height." 

Blue Hill, the " Cheviot Hills " of Capt. John Smith, is the 
highest elevation of land near the sea-coast of Massachusetts, 
situated partly in Canton and partly in Milton, and forms the 
western extremity of the range which extends through the 
towns of Canton, Milton, and Quincy. The Great Blue Hill, 
which receives its name from its color as seen by a distant 
observer, is situated in latitude 42° 12' 44."03 ; longitude 
71° 07' iO.''84. It is the first land seen on approaching the 
coast, and rears its head 635.05 feet above the level of the 
sea. From its summit one beholds a magnificent panorama, 
unequalled for beauty and interest. Within a radius of ten 
miles, twenty-seven towns can be distinguished. 

The following description of the objects to be discerned 
from Blue Hill is the most accurate I have ever seen ; it is 
taken from the " Appalachia," vol. iii. p. 122: — 

" Let us take the view in order, turning from left to right. A line 
due north almost touches the tower of the Harvard College Memorial 
Hall in Cambridge, eleven miles distant ; nearly hidden by which we 
see, three miles beyond, the Unitarian church in Medford. Directly 
under the tower is Jamaica Plain. A trifle to the right is Holt's 
Hill in Andover, — a bare smooth eminence about thirty miles off. 
Considerably to the right is another bare, lenticular hill, — Bald Pate 
in Georgetown, about thirty-five miles distant, seen directly over the 
Maiden Orthodox church. A little to the left of this, eight miles 
away, is seen the white tower of the Roxbury stand-pipe. Midway 
between Holt and Bald Pate appears Somerville, twelve miles off, pre- 
senting a red church and brick high-school, side by side upon a hill. 
To the right of the stand-pipe is spread out the city of Boston. The 
State-House is ten and one-half miles distant ; its bearing, N. 14° 
22' E. A little to the right of the State-House one sees the State 
Insane Asylum in Danvers, twenty-seven miles distant, a long build- 
ing on a hill. To the right of the city is Boston Harbor, stretching 


far round toward the east, with its islands, forts, and lighthouses. 
North-northeast is the Reservoir Hill in South Boston. Looking up 
and turning to the right, we see successiv