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THE PRESENT TIME, 1734-1886 





Author of the Historij of Kindge, N. H. 

" Whatever strengthens our local attachments is favorable both 
to individual and national character. Show me a man who cares 
no more for one place than another, and I will show you in that 
same person one who loves nothing but himself." 


18 8 7. 




farwell & CO. 

B O S T O >'. 




This volume is presented iu response to ii popular demand. 
The enterprise was instituted and sustained b}^ a generous desire 
of the citizens of Ashburnham to secure the publication of the 
history of the town. The initial action to this end is found in a 
vote of the town in 1880, making choice of Wilbur F. Whitney, 
llev. Josiah D. Crosby, Simeon Merritt and William P. Ellis to 
make preliminary arrangements for the compilation and publi- 
cation of a volume. By subsequent votes of the town the 
committee has been directed to consummate the work. 

In 1882 Mr. Merritt died, and George F. Stevens was elected 
by the town to complete the original number of the committee. 
Subsequently, on account of age and feeble health, Mr. Crosby 
resigned, and Charles Winchester was designated to fill the 
vacancy. Mr. Ellis was appointed by the committee to gather 
material and family registers, and from this point the work has 
been prosecuted without interruption. 

Early in the spring of 1884 the committee contracted with 
Hon. Ezra S. Stearns, of Rindge, New Hampshu-e, to write a 
History of Ashburnham, following a general plan which he sub- 
mitted for our consideration, and which met our approbation. 

Mr. Stearns has faithfully and ably fulfilled the obligation he 
assumed, and has produced a work which meets our warmest 
approval and unqualified endorsement. Yielding to the express 
desii-e of the author, we reluctantly refrain from a more particular 
expression of our estimate of the sterling character of the volume 
and of our ready appreciation of the vigor of thought and felicity 
of expression which will not escape the attention of the reader. 

Wilbur F. Whitney, 
AYiLLiAM P. Ellis, 
George F. Stevens, 
Charles Winchester. 


A New England town can allege no antiquity. Only 
in a comparative sense can one assume the dignity of age. 
The municipal histoiy of Ashburnham is compressed within 
the brief span of one hundred and fifty years, and of this 
period the first two decades are isolated from the connected 
narrative of the remainder. The drama is limited in 
duration, yet the scenes are crowded with events. At the 
threshold stands the surveyor with his compass and chain, 
the emblems of approaching civilization , ready to sever from 
the wilderness a defined area and limit the stage on which 
will appear the shifting scenes of succeeding years. The 
early settler, struggling with the subjugation of the forest, 
and, in the dying flame and fading smoke of the clearing, 
rearing a cabin and garnering the product of a virgin soil, 
the mechanic in daily toil dreaming not that he is founding- 
industries that will ])ecome swelling tributaries to the com- 
merce of the world, the Revolutionary soldier breathing into 
life his aspirations of liberty, and in the fruits of war 
revealing the possibility of a republican form of government, 
the meeting-house on the hill, the settlement and labor of 
*'the learned orthodox minister," the early schools, the 
primitive roads broadening by use into thoroughfares, the 
rude mills exhi])iting only the elements of mechanical skill, 

i] ' PKEFACE. 

are a part of the history of every New England town, and 
each occupies a place in the following chapters. And yet 
throughout the work, in early and in later affairs, it has been 
my constant aim to present, in a proper light, the forms of 
procedure and the phases of character peculiar to this town. 
The stereotyped features, which in the force and sequence 
of events are common to the history of all New England 
towns, have heen mainly employed as connecting links in 
the succession of events or as mirrors to the individuality of 
Ashburnham. The glory of any town is reflected in the 
lives of sterling men whose deeds are the soul of its annals. 
In the following chapters, generation has succeeded genera- 
tion, and each has left to posterity the strengthening'^ 
influence of an inspiring example. In local history is found 
the most potent incentive to activity of life and an 
honorable conduct. The nearness and familiarity of the 
exemplars animate the example. 

During a review of these many 3^ears I have found enter- 
tainment, which can be renewed by the reader, in silently 
noting the t3^pes of mind and character developed by the 
several families which have constituted the population of 
the town, — each generation exhibiting the balances between 
extremes of character and ability that incite comparisons and 
suggest conclusions. The summary record of achievement 
and conduct demonstrates that the genius of Ashburnham 
has been persevering, that the average ability of the citizen 
has been conspicuous, and the general character of the 
masses has been well sustained. 

Without an interruption of the nan-ative in an exhibition 
of the fact, it has been my purpose to supplement the deeds 
of men with an ettbrt to also portray the habit and thought, 
the manners and customs, the aspirations and passions of 


each generation, and to state facts in such a manner that 
the reader l:>e left at full liberty to draw suggested 
conclusions. Leaving the discussion of philosophies to 
more pretentious volumes, it has remained our pleasurable 
labor to revive fading memories, to give form and substance 
to the shadows of the past, to clothe in the habiliments of 
truth the fugitive forms of tradition, to assign to deeds of 
men the inspiration of a good or an unAvorthy motive, to 
present a picture of the past in which can be seen in clearer 
light the outlines of the present, and to combine the past 
with the present in a connected narrative of sequence and 
fact. Xot to the manner born nor at any time a resident of 
Ashburnham, I have often gleaned in the field at a disad- 
vantage, but I have been free from the prejudices of 
familiarity, and in this efibrt have not been misguided by 
the vivid impressions and false estimates of childhood and 

The lields, from Avhich the material of the following 
chapters has been garnered, are the town and church 
records, the manuscript volumes in the State archives, 
manuscripts and printed volumes wherever found, and 
registry and probate records of several counties. Ceme- 
teries with their rigid inscriptions and family records, 
preserved by pious care, have supplied many dates that 
could not be secured from other sources. To the custodians 
of the numerous records that have been laid under tribute, 
and to a multitude of friends who have rendered cheerful 
and valued assistance, my weighty obligations are revived in 
the memory of polite attention and spontaneous kindness. 
A o^enerous measure of o-enealooical information has been 
obtained at the library of the New England Historic- 
Genealogical Society, and to John Ward Dean, A. M., and 


his obliging assistants, I am indebted ])eyond the conven- 
tional forms of acknowledgment. And duty joins with 
pleasure in an unreserved expression of my gratitude to 
Harriet Proctor Poore, whose familiarity with the reposi- 
tories of historic and genealogical lore has aided successful 
research for many dates and facts not easily accessible. To 
Wilbur F. Whitney, William P. Ellis, George F. Stevens 
and Charles Winchester, who have faithfully represented the 
town in the preparation and publication of this volume, I 
am pleased to express personal obligations for courteous 
treatment and polite attention. Their zeal and interest in 
the prosecution of the work have been a constant incentive, 
and their prompt attention in the proffer of facilities has 
anticipated every reasonable requirement. The committee 
has relieved me from the embarrassment of censorship and 
the restraint of dictation, and, in a proper recognition of 
the fact, I assume responsibility for errors, for feilure of 
judgment and for all imperfections which appear in the 
following pages. 

It should be borne in mind that many of the following 
chapters were written two years ago, and that mention of 
present time has reference to the beginning of the year 
1886. The mention of a subsequent event and the employ- 
ment of a later date are gratuitous amendments to the plan 

originally adopted. 

¥y/Aix S. Steakns. 
RiNDGE, N. H., May 1, 18^7. 



Location. — Boundaries — Area. — Surface. — Soil. — Course of the Streams. — 
Connecticut and Merrimack Drainage. — Ponds. — Arboral Products. 
— "Wild Animals. — Native Birds. — Fish. — Elevations. — Scenery. 



Seven Grants of Land. — The Policy of the General Court. — An Era of 
Grants. — The Starr Grant. — Owned by Green, Wilder and Joslin. — 
The Cambridge Grant. — The First Survey. — The Lexington Grant. — 
Sale of same to the Germans. — The Bluefield Grant. — The Early 
Road to Northfield — The Grant Sold to William Jones and Ephraim 
Wetherbee. — The Converse Grant. — Sale to Joseph Wilder. — The 
Rolfe Grant. —Sale to John Greenwood. — The Dorchester Canada or 
Township Grant. — The Canada Soldiers. — Four Towns Chartered in 
One Enactment. — The Township Surveyed. — Area. — Personal Notices. 




The Township Awarded to Sixty Persons. — Their Influence over the Settle- 
ment. — Proceedings of the First Meeting. — Changes in Membership of 
the Proprietors. — House Lots Surveyed. — Site for Meeting-house 
Selected. — Saw-mill Proposed —Second Distribution of Land. — A 
Fulling-mill Suggested. — The First Meeting-house. — War with Heze- 
kiah Gates. — The Province Line. — Mossman's Inn. — Fear of Indians. 
— Block House Built. — The Settlement Temporarily Abandoned. — 
The Situation. — Changes in Membership of the Proprietors. — Personal 
Notices. — Mossman's Petition 52-79 



Renewed Activity of the Proprietors. — Moses Foster. — The Second Saw- 
mill. — Grain-mill. — Settlement. — Disagreement between Resident and 
Non-resident Proprietors. — Names of Early Settlers. — The German 
Settlement.— The Province Line. — Manufacture of Potash. — Distri- 
bution of Undivided Lands. — Farewell to the Proprietors. — Personal 
Notices 80-107 




Incorporation. — The Petitions of the Inhabitants and of the Proprietors. — 
The name of Ashfield Proposed. — The Charter. — Early Town Meetings. 
— Ashby Incorporated. — Contribution to Ashby. — New Arrivals. — 
Salary of the Minister. — Schools.— Abatement of the Province Tax — 
Revolutionary Flashes. — Death of First Minister. — The Common. — 
Tax List, 1770. — Price of Commodities. — A Pound and Field Drivers. 
— Gardner First Suggested. — Warning Out 108-130 



Situation of the Town. — The Covenant. — Worcester Convention.. — The 
Juror List. — Represented in Provincial Congress. — Powder and Lead. 
— The Militia Organized. —Prominent Citizens Interviewed. — The 
Salt Problem. — Alarm at Lexington. — Captain Gates' Company. — 
Captain Davis' Company. — The Siege of Boston and Battle of Bunker 
Hill. — Captain Wilder's Company. — The Declaration of Independence. 
— Enlistments in 1776. — An Hour of Gloom. — Town Proceedings. — 
Soldiers in 1777. — Alarm and Call for Troops. — The Response of 
Ashburnham. — Continental and Other Soldiers. — Public Aid. — Assent 
to the Articles of Confederation. — Depreciation of the Currency. — 
The Soldiers in the Field. — New Recruits. — Clothing for the Army. — 
Alas! One Deserter.— Soldiers in 1779. — Representative to General 
Court.— Price of Commodities. — Constitution Proposed. — Thanksgiv- 
ing. — Soldiers in 1780. — Town Meetings. — Observance of the Sabbath. 
— Soldiers in 1781. — Bounty Proposed.— A Fine Remitted.— Requisi- 
tions for Beef.— Home Trials 131-17G 



Personal Notices. — Ebenezer Munroe. — Abraham Lowe. — Joseph Jewett. — 
Samuel Kelton. — Reuben Townsend. — Isaac Stearns. — William 
Stearns. — Isaac Whitmore. — Charles Hastings. — David Wallis. — 
Cyrus Fairbanks. — Ebenezer Wallis. — Thomas Gibson. — Jonas Rice. 
Reuben Rice. — Eliakim Rice. — Jabez Marble. — Lemuel Stimson. — 
Abraham Townsend. — John Bowman. — Joshua Fletcher. — Joseph 
Merriam. — Asa Brocklebank. — Jonathan Gates. — Jonathan Samson. 
— Ezekiel S. Metcalf.— David Clark.— David Chaffin.— Ebenezer B. 
Davis. — Isaac Merriam. — David Merriam. — John Winter. — William 
Ward. — Edward Whitmore. — Reuben Rice. — Abraham Lowe. — Joseph 
Jewett. — Reuben Townsend. — Lemuel Stimson. —Jonas Rice. — Jabez 
and Oliver Marble. — Thomas Gibson. — Charles Hastings.— Joseph 
Gibbs. —David Wallis.— Cyrus Fairbanks.— Joshua Fletcher — Joseph 
Merriam. — Names of Pensioners Residing in Ashburnham in 1840. 





.A. Season of Disquietude.— Shay's Revolt.— The Loyal Sentiment of Ash- 
burnham.— Volunteers to Suppress the Revolt.— Isaac Stearns' Diary. 
—A Bloodless Campaign.— Constitutional Conventions.— Representa- 
tion in the Legislature.— Vote of the Town for Governor.— Proposed 
Divisions of the County.- A List of Town Officers. . . . 211-242 



Early Measures to Secure Preaching.-Rev. Elisha Harding.-Call and 
Ordination of Rev. Jonathan Winchester.— A Church Embodied.— 
The Covenant.— Original Membership.— Additions.— The First Dea- 
cons.— Death of Mr. Winchester.— His Character.- Call and Ordina- 
tion of Rev. John Cushing.— A Long and Successful Ministry.— An 
Era of Concord.-Discipline without Asperity.-Half Way Covenant. 
—Death of Mr. Cushing.— His Character— Call and Ordination of 
Rev. George Perkins.— Installation of Rev. George Goodyear.— Rev. 
Edwin Jennison.-Rev. Elnathan Davis.-Rev. Frederick A. Fiske.- 
Rev. Elbridge G. Little.— Rev. Thomas Boutelle.— Rev George E. 
Fisher. -Rev. Moody A. Stevens.-Rev. Leonard S. Parker. -Rev. 
Daniel E. Adams.-Rev. Josiah D. Crosby.-A Vacancy.-The 
^« .... 243-283 



The First Meeting-house.— Votes Concerning the Edifice.— Pews Con- 
structed.-The Town as a Parish.-The Salary of Mr. Cushmg.- 
The Hurricane.-The Site of the First Meeting-house—The Second 
Meeting-house— Proceedings 1791— Painting of the Meeting-house- 
Toleration— Dissolution of the Relations between the Town and the 
Church.-First Parish Organized.- Contention over the Mimsterial 
Fund.— The Third Meeting-house.— Location.- Continued History. 
—The Edifice Remodelled.— The Parsonage 284-308 



The METHODiSTs.-The Field and the Situation. -The Early Preachers — 

The First Meeting-house.- Second Meeting-house. -The Ministers. 
The Union CnuRCH.-The Elements CoUected.-The Meeting-house.-A 

Church Embodied— The Early Preachers.-Elder Edward A. Rolhns. 

-Rev. A. A. Whitmore— Temporary Supplies— Rev. Daniel Wight. 

—The Parish.— Personal Notices.— The Deacons. 
The BAPTiSTS.-Preachers without Pay-Stephen Gibson.-Disintegration. 
ADVENTiSTS.-Their Belief.-No Church Organization. 
The CATHOLics.-First Services in this Town-Purchase a Meeting-house^ 

—Rev. John Conway 




A Truthful Remark of No Great Account. — Early Action in Relation to 
Sacred Music. — Ye Pitch-pipe. — Early Hymn-books. — New Tunes. — 
First Choristers. — Deaconing the Hymn. — Bass Viol. — Musical 
Families. — Later Members of the Congregational Choir. — The Meth- 
odist Choir 324-330 



Home Education. — First Appropriation for Schools. — First School-houses. 
— Districts. — Eight Districts Defined. — A New District. — The Tenth 
District. — New Boundaries. — The Eleventh District.— The District 
System Abolished. — School-houses. — Text-books. — Teachers. — Ap- 
propriations — School Legislation. — High Schools. — Prudential Affairs. 
— Supervision 331-349 



Incidental Features of the Endowment— The Will of Thomas Parkman 
Cushing. — The Trustees. — Progress of Events. — Winchester Square. — 
The Edifice.— Dedication.— The School Fund.— Jewett Hall.— The 
Crosby Scholarship. — Library and Apparatus. — Professor Pierce. — 
Professor Vose.— Board of Trustees, Past and Present. . 350-359 



Donations of Land to Other Towns. — Original Area. — Province Line. — 
Incorporation of Ashby. — Gardner. — Area Severed from Ashburnham. 
— The Families. — Land Annexed to Ashby. —Tlie Petitioners. — Ash- 
burnham Resists. — New Boundaries. — The Families. — A New Town 
Proposed. — Meeting-house Built. — Renewed Effort and Opposition. — 
John Ward and William Barrell Annexed. — Petition of George Wilker 

and others 360-371 




The Primitive Roads. — The Northfield Road. — Early Roads in Ashburnham. 
— The Great Road to Ipswich Canada. — A County Road. — Road to 
Ashby Line. — New Roads. — The Town Indicted. — Other County Roads. 
— South Turnpike. — The Winchendon Road Amended. — Turnpikes. — 
Teaming.— Expenditure. — Road Commissioners. — Railroads. 372-388 




The First Inn.— Several Early Innholders.— Uncle Tim's.— The Cockerel 
Tavern.— Two Hotels on Main Street.— Children of the Woods.— A 
New Tavern.— The Central House.— The Frye Tavern— The Tavern 
at Factory Village. 

The Stores.— The First Store.— The Jewetts and their Successors.— 
Madame Cushing a Merchant.— Several Small Stores.— The Winches- 
ters. — Adams and Greenwood. — Ellis and Lane.— Newton Hayden. 

Parker Brothers.— Marble and Gilson.— George Rockwood.— Elliot 
Moore. — MirickStimson.— Store in South A shburnham. . . 389-400 



Prominent Position of Ashburnham. — Three Early Mills. — A Multitude of 
Grain-mills and Saw-mills. — The Manufacture of Chairs. — The Great 
Number Engaged.— John Eaton. — The Pioneers. — Philip R. Merriam. 
— Charles and George C. Winchester.— The Boston Chair Manufact- 
uring Company.— W. F. Whitney.— The Manufacture of Chairs in 
South Ashburnham.— Burrageville.— Tubs and Pails.— Thread Spools. 
— Friction Matches. — Baskets. — Miscellaneous Wood-ware. — Wool 
Carding and Cloth Dressing. — Cotton Factories.— Tanning.— Morocco 
Business. — John and S. W. Putnam 401-423 



Zeal in Military Pursuits.— Early Officers.— The Light Infantry Organized. — 
First Commanders. — A Few Veterans. — Service in War of 1812. — 
The Roll.— Years of Prosperity.— List of Officers 1791 to 1847.— 
Promotions. — The Militia Company. — Militia Officers. — The Draft 
1814.— History from 1855 to 1862.— Brief Record from 1866 to 
Present Time.— List of Officers 424-439 



Prepared For War. — Mission of the Ashburnham Light Infantry.— Early 
Enlistments. — Second Regiment. — The Home Company.— The Uni- 
form. — Liberality of George C. Winchester. — State Aid. — Twenty- 
first Regiment. — Its Record. — Names of Men in this Service. — 
Colonel Joseph P. Rice.— Captain Walker and the Slavery Problem. — 
Other Enlistments in 1861.— Record of 1862.— Fifty -third Regiment. 
—Resolutions.— Record of 1863.— The Draft.— Enlistments.— The 
Second Draft.— Conclusion 440-463 





Doctors Brooks, Senter, Abraham Lowe, Abraham T. Lowe, Nathaniel 
Peirce, Abercrombie, Cutler, Stone, Miller, Wallace, Whitmore, 
Mattoon, Temple, Jillson, Charles L. Pierce, Stickney, Amory Jewett, 
Nathaniel Jewett. — Lawyers Cunningham, Adams, Parker and 
Andrews. — Samuel Wilder. — Joseph Jewett. — Ivers Jewett. — Jacob 
Willard. — Silas Willard. — John Adams. — Enoch Whitmore. — Jerome 
W. Foster. — Ohio Whitney. — Isaac Hill. — Thomas Parkman Cushing. 
— Milton Whitney. — A List of College Graduates. — Other Sons of 
Ashburnham 4G-I:-517. 




Pauperism. — Tithingmen. — Town House. — Union Ilall.— Post Offices. — 
Libraries. — First National Bank. — Savings Bank. — Farmers' Club. — 
Pounds. — Bounties on Wild Animals. — Thief Detecting Society. — 
Brass Band. — Powder House. — Population 518-510 



The Early Burials. — Death of Mr. Haskell — Germans Buried Elsewhere. — 
The Old and the New Cemeteries. — Suicides.— Accidental Deaths. — 
Record of Deaths of Aged Persons. — List of Aged Persons now 
Living in Ashburnham 541-555 



A Present to Rev. John Cushing. — Seating the Meeting-house. — Minor 
Topics. — A New Town Proposed. — A New Name Suggested for 
Ashburnham. — A War Cloud. — Sickness. — A Severe Winter. — A 
Variety. — The Great Gale. — The First Fire Engine. — Temperance. — 
Millerites. — The Great Freshet. — Miscellaneous Topics . . 556-573 

Genealogical Register 575-1007 

Index of Names 1009-1022 






A. T. LOWE 466 




H. C. HOBART 502 





























AsHBURXHAM IS the most eastern of the three towns in 
Worcester county in Massachusetts bordering upon New 
Hampshire and is bounded on the north by Rindge and JSTew 
Ipswich ; on the east by Ashby and Fitchburg ; on the south 
by Westminster and Gardner and on the west by Winchen- 
don. The old common on ]Meeting-house hill is fifty-five 
miles in right line northwest from Boston, and thirty-one miles 
north from Worcester, and is in latitude 42° 38' north, and 
longitude 4° 10', very nearly, east from Washington. The 
area of the town is about twenty-four thousand five hundred 
acres including about one thousand five hundred acres of water. 
The surface is hilly and diversified. Without ranges or sys- 
tems of hills the outlines of the landscape are bold and majes- 
tic, and promontories are frequent, yet isolated. Many of the 
elevations are bold and rugged, while others are rounded and 
elevated swells of land fertile to the summit. There is very 
little plain and intervale. The streams are gathered in broken 
and narrow valleys. 

2 17 


The soil of Ashburnliam is that common to the hill towns 
in this vicinity. When placed in comparison it is even stub- 
born and rocky, yet in most parts arable and productive. 
The surface is well Avatered. The subsoil is clay retaining 
moisture and springs of the purest water are abundant. 

The altitude of this town is greater than that of the sur- 
rounding country on the east, south and west. The courses 
of the streams are outward except in the north. The line of 
water-shed between the Connecticut and Merrimack valleys 
extends diagonally through the tow^i. The line of division 
is irregular but is easily traced from Great Watatic to Little 
Watatic, thence southerly and over the low ridges between 
Upper Naukeag and Rice pond to the old common. Diverg- 
ing to the north and west the line extends near the ancient 
Winchendon road past the residence of Edwin Hayward to 
near the John Woods farm, thence southerly into the forest 
about one mile and thence westerly and southwesterly about 
two miles to the southeast corner of Winchendon. 

The northwestern or Connecticut slope is drained into Mil- 
ler's river. The Upper N^aukeag lake which flows into Lower 
Naukeao' is the source of the south branch of that river. At 
the Lower Naukeag it receives a copious affluent from the north- 
east. This stream rises in Binney pond in New Ipswich and 
receives the drainage of a considerable portion of the eastern 
slope of New Ipswich mountains. It enters this town through 
the farm of Edwin J. Stearns and flows thence through the 
village of North Ashburnham into the Lower Naukeag. In 
its onward course from this lake the next considerable tribu- 
tary to the south branch of Miller's river is the modest con- 
tribution of Rindge which flows past the mills of Robert W. 
Mclntire and joins the stream north of Burrageville. The 
river thus reinforced abruptly leaves the town but repenting 
before a mile is traversed, it returns and patiently drives the 


mills at Biirrageville. In compensation for exhausted energy 
it soon receives a tributary from the south and rushes on to 
its many tasks below until it falls into the Connecticut near 
Greenfield. By this river a half of the town is drained. The 
source of the brook rising in Xe w Ipswich and flowing through 
this town is the extreme eastern point of the Connecticut 

The southeastern or Merrimack slope is divided into four 
sections and is drained by as man}^ streams flowing outward. 
The first drainage is in the northeast part of the town and 
embraces the basin defined by Great Watatic, Little AYatatic 
and Blood hill. Here the overflow of Stoger meadow and a 
few smaller streams falling into AVard pond and thence into 
Watatic pond give rise to a l)ranch of the Souhegan river. 
Its course is through the north part of Ashby and New Ips- 
wich and onward to the Merrimack river at the town of Mer- 
rimack, Xew Hampshire. 

The second drainas^e is of small area lyintr between Blood 
and Russell hills and embraces portions of the Dutch and 
Cambridge farms. The streams leave this town near the 
residence of Joseph ^Y. Wilker and fall into the Ashby res- 
ervoir. Here the collected water assumes the name of 
Willard's brook and is tributary to the Squanicook river in 

The third drainage is bounded on the north and east by the 
Connecticut slope and the first and second sections of the 
Merrimack slope . The western boundary is the height of land 
from Meetins-house hill, thence south across the farm of 
Joseph Harris to the line of Westminster. The water collected 
at Rice or Reservoir pond is drained by Phillips' brook flowing 
throuijh the centre villaoje and onward through the northeast 
part of Westminster into Fitchburg. 

The fourth drainage of the Merrimack slope embraces the 


southwest and remaining area of the town. Here are several 
artificial ponds but no natural body of water. The drainage 
is collected in the stream rising in the Nashua reservoir and 
flowing through the village of South Ashburnham and thence 
through Westminster in a course nearly parallel with Phillips* 
brook to the line of Fitchburg. At this point it al)ruptly 
turns to the north and unites with Phillips' brook at West 
Fitchburg. Dashing on in a first eml^race through the rocky 
valley of Fitchburg it more leisurely pursues its way through 
Leominster and Lancaster to a point between Groton and 
Shirley where it receives the Squanicook, bearing the waters 
of the second drainage. Together the triune river engulfed 
in stronger currents falls into the Merrimack river at Nashua. 
Perhaps somewhere in the river-bed they recognize and 
mingle with the clear waters from Watatic pond which in its 
onward course to the ocean has wandered through the valley 
of the Souheo'an. Fallulah or Baker's brook flowino* into 
Fitchburg and a small stream flowing into Westminster are 
tributary in a short distance to the larger streams and are not 
considered separately. 

There are eight natural ponds in this town ; four are trib- 
utary to the Connecticut and four to the Merrimack river. 

The Upper Naukeag or Meeting-house pond, ])eneath 
the towering summits of the surrounding hills and dotted 
with rugged islands, is a lake of peculiar beauty and attrac- 
tion. The water is clear and cool and the basin unusually 
free from sediment. The shores are mainly rocky, some- 
times bold and rugged, in other places pure sand of spark- 
ling whiteness forms the encircling 1)arrier and extends 
beneath the surface of the crystal water, but nowhere is the 
lake approached by low and marshy ground. This lake and 
the Watatic mountains were known to the explorers before 
the settlement of the town. The names undoubtedly are 


of Indian origin, l)ut the original sound has l)een so iniper- 
fei'tly j)reserved and the names have experienced so many 
changes in English orthography that students of the Indian 
dialects fail to discover the origmal signification of the terms. 
Professor Trumbull, a recognized authority, has examined 
these names in every form of orthogra})hy and fails to find in 
them any element that designates either pond or mountain. 

The Lower Naukeag Lake is less rugged in outline. 
At the eastern extremity the accumulating deposit of cen- 
turies has appeared above the surface of the water and many 
acres of low land are included within the original basin of the 
lake. The drainage is controlled by artificial obstruction. 

A Nameless Poxd of small area is found in the forest and 
surrounded by marsh. It is situated a short distance west 
of Little Watatic and is trilnitary to the stream which flows 
through North Ashburnham. 

Another Nameless Pond, a lonely sheet of water, is 
found in the marsh in the southwest part of the town. It 
is near the line of the Cheshire railroad and midway l)etween 
the depots at North and South Ashburnham. It is tril)utar3^ 
to the south In-anch of Miller's river at Burrageville. The 
course of the stream is northwest and near the line of the 
Cheshire railroa d . 

Rice Pond is the most important ])ody of water in the 
Merrimack drainage. The dam at the outlet controls the 
natural current and overflows the original l)oundaries. The 
declivity of the shores is generally uniform and the natural 
features and contour of the pond are generally preserved. 
At the present time it is frequentl}^ called Reservoir pond, 
and in 1735 it was known as Wenecheag pond. 

Mud Pond of small area is tributary to Rice pond and is 
situated about one-half mile northwest of it. 


Ward Pond, formerly known as WhiteiiDMn pond, is a gem 
among the lakes guarded and nm-tm-ed by the encu'cling hills. 
Its pebbly shores are familiar to the angler while its placid 
surface and picturesque surroundings are suggestive of rest 
and tranquillity. 

Watatic Poxd on the stream below Ward pond is similar 
in outline but smaller in area. It lies partly in Ashliy, but 
the greater portion is in this town. Near these two ponds 
were the homes of several of the earliest settlers of Dorches- 
ter Canada. 

In addition to these natural bodies of water, w^hich for cen- 
turies have enlivened the landscape and mirrored in their 
crystal waters each passing bird and the overhanging hills, 
there are many reservoirs or artificial ponds in this town. 
Maintained by the work and for the convenience of man they 
are perishable and unless the barriers are constantly renewed 
the waters will again flow within the banks of the natural 
currents. They form no part of the natural features of the 

The prevailing arboral products are white pine, spruce, 
hemlock, maple, birch and beech. These are found in all 
parts of the town. In the original forests the heaviest growth 
of the deciduous varieties was found in the southeast part of 
the town, w^hile the soft woods were in greater abundance in 
the northern and western portions of the town. The red oak, 
chestnut, white and black ash, hard pine, juniper or tamarack, 
fir balsam, bass wood, leverwood and hornbeam are native 
here. The elm, black cherry and white oak are found in 
small quantity. The white willow, poplar and gray birch 
are possibly of secondary growth and are constantly increas- 
ing in quantity. The mooscAvood , with its large , broad leaves , 
flourishes beneath the shade of the forests. Black alder, 
bearing red berries, is seen upon the roadside, and tag alder 


lines the shore of the brooks and the margin of low lands. 
Red and poison sumac, or dogwood, are rare. Clusters of 
withe, whitewood, witch and nut hazel, and laurel are found 
in many places. A few locust — two varieties — butternut or 
white walnut, and Lombardy poplar have flourished as shade- 
trees, but are not natiA^es here. 

The town originally was heavily wooded. The denizens 
of the dense forests included a variety of animals common to 
the locality. In the early progress of the settlement the black 
bear forsook his favorite haunts without thought of contest or 
show of resistance. A coward both by instinct and habit he 
fled at the approach of man. But every solitary bear that 
since has made a hasty circuit of the town has lived in peren- 
nial tradition and has immortalized every man or woman who 
chanced to behold the fugitive presence. Very few of the 
early settlers ever beheld the countenance of a living bear. 
Habitually his face was directed the other way and his eye 
was ever resting on some distant point he desired to visit. 
The wolf in early times was more numerous and troublesome. 
Fifty years ago they had not entirely disappeared. 

Traces of beaver dams are not yet wholly obliterated but 
the builders abruptly refused to labor in competition with 
man. The track of the otter is yet seen occasionally in the 
new fallen snow and the mink still inhabits along the courses of 
the streams. Muskrats with little fear of man continue to 
build their round moundlike houses in the shallow water of 
the ponds. Foxes, fed by the garbage of civilization, and the 
woodchuck, partial to the succulent vegetation of cultivated 
fields, are probably as numerous as at any former period. 
The several varieties of squirrels, the hare and the coney 
rabbit, while limited in the area of their possessions, are rel- 
atively numerous. Occasionally the sleepy porcupine is 
found in his quiet home in a hollow tree and the raccoon visits 


the fields of ripening corn from year to year in unequal 

The birds found here are such as are common to the latitude, 
and other conditions of the town. The melodies that greeted 
the mornins: lis^ht in the solitudes of the orio^inal forests are 
our delight at the present time. The thrush and the sparrow, 
first to confide in the mercy of men and nest near the hamlets 
of the clearing, if not as numerous as formerly, are still the 
welcome visitors of the summer-time. The red-headed wood- 
pecker, whose animated rappings broke the stillness of the 
forest, was frequently seen in former years but is now 
extinct, while the imported sparrow has found its way hither 
from the seaboard. The wild goose, the black and gray duck, 
of migratory habits, visit the ponds in their spring and autumn 
transits. The wood and dipper duck not unfrequently nest 
here, and can l)e found in their retreats during the summer 
and autumn. The loon or northern diver (^Oolymbus gla- 
cialis) during the summer months and early autumn is daily 
seen floating upon the lakes or is heard calling his mate during 
a flight between the ponds. They frequently nest upon the 
islands in Upper Naukeag. The wild pigeon is less abundant 
than formerly, while the sonorous whistle of the quail ( Ortyx 
virginianus) is sometimes heard, but this bird seldom nests 
in this latitude. Partridges (Tetrasu7nbeUus, or the Bonasa 
umhellus of Linnfeus) are abundant, and the loud whirring 
sound of their wings, as they burst away at the approach of 
visitors to their haunts, and their animated drumming in the 
forest continue to attest their familiar presence. 

The lakes, reservoirs and rivulets of this town abound in 
fish peculiar to the waters of this vicinity. 80 far as known, 
none of the natives of these waters have become extinct. 
The ])lack bass, land-locked salmon and lake trout are of 
recent and artificial introduction. The brook, or spotted 


trout, fond of shade and cool water, have been disturbed in 
their favorite haunts l)y the removal of the forests, and are 
less numerous than formerly. The name and the charac- 
teristics of the hal)itants of the lakes and brooks of this town 
are familiar to all, yet the following list may be of interest at 
some future time : 

The pickerel {Esox reticulatus) ; brook trout (Salmo 
fontinalis) ; perch {Perca flavescens) ; shiner (Stilbe chry- 
solencas) ; l)ream or sunfish (Pomotis vulgaris) ; chub or 
cheven (Leuciscus chephalus) ; black sucker {^Catostomus) ; 
chub sucker, another of the same genus ; the minnow, or 
minum, a very small fish, and a specie of Leuciscus; cat lish 
or horned pout (Plmelodus catus). The common eel {An- 
guilla tenuirostris), and the lamprey eel, a specie of the 
Petromyzon, although rare, are sometimes taken from the 

The most prominent elevation is Great Watatic. Its 
rounded summit is one thousand eight hundred and forty- 
seven feet above tide water. This grand and lofty tower on 
the line of the water-shed, is symmetrical in its form and 
imposing in its presence, and with grim visage it overlooks 
the hamlets in the northeast part of the town. In a right 
line and a mile nearer the old conmion, is Little Watatic, of 
similar form and softened outlines. An earlier orthography 
of these mountains, was Wautatuck. Blood hill, south of 
Great Watatic, and on the line of Ashby, in the morning 
light, casts its fretted shadow over the lakes at its base and 
around its crest the rainbow appears in the lingering rain of 
an evening shower. Across the intervening valle}^ at the 
south, is the plateau of Russell hill, once heavily wooded, 
and now the seat of productive farms. Jewell hill, near at 
hand, is a sturdy watch-tower on the limits of the town. 

East of Rice pond, suddenly rises the bristling form of 


Mount Hunger. If its name and sterility are suggestive of 
famine, its situation near the lake is a safeguard against 
thirst. And on the line of the water-shed, is Meeting-house 
hill, which commands an extensive view of the surrounding 
country. Here our fathers literally went up to worship, and 
early called it "a hill with a very fair prospect." Brown 
hill, and the ridges in the northwest part of the town, and 
other elevations, on which are houses and cultivated fields, 
would be styled mountains amid surroundings less grand and 

The altitude of the town, and the bold and rugged outlines 
of the landscape, are the elements of scenery unsurpassed in 
beauty and grandeur. These features of nature are a living 
inspiration and enjoyment to all who inhabit here, and 
treasured among golden memories are the visions of matchles.s 
sublimity which delighted the childhood and youth of every 
absent son and daughter of Ashburnham. 

"From such a scene, how many feelings spring! 
How many thoughts flash through the icindling mind ! 
Delightful dreams have birth ; — we almost seem 
Pass'd to another sphere, — and the glad heart 
Forgets that earth is still its transient home. 
This is a vision for the rest of life, 
An amaranthine tenant for the breast, 
A morning star for mem'ry, which, amid 
Life's fitful clouds, shall radiantly shine forth. 
When scenes less beautiful attract my gaze, 
I shall recall thy quiet loveliness." 










Rome was founded on seven hills. Ashburnham was 
founded on seven gi-ants of land. To give some account of 
these several grants will be the province of this chapter. 
One hundred and fifty years ago, Massachusetts was rich in 
lands, but poor in treasure. The public treasury was con- 
tinually overdrawn, and in place of money, the unappro- 
priated lands became the currency of the province. Upon 
the wilderness, the Government made frequent and generous 
drafts in the payment of a great variety of claims and demands 
against the colony. At the time these seven grants of land 
were made, the prolonged controversy concerning the loca- 
tion of the province line between Massachusetts and New 
Hampshire was being vigorously prosecuted. It was clearly 
the accepted policy of Massachusetts to fortify her claim to a 


large tract of the controverted territory by possession and 
occupancy, in the hope thereby of maintaining a claim to the 
domain after all diplomacy had failed. Thus stimulated, 
both by necessity and policy, the General Court made 
numerous grants of land in this immediate vicinity, with 
unmistakable alacrity. It was an era of l^enevolence. Per- 
ceiving the disposition of the Government, many, who could 
only make the smallest pretext of service rendered the colony 
by themselves or their ancestors, were found among the 
petitioners for land. Seldom were their requests denied, 
and even old claims, which had remained unanswered many 
years, were suddenly revived and rewarded with generous 
parcels of the public domain. While this spirit of liberality 
was rife and condescending, the territory within the ancient 
boundaries of this township was severed from the wilderness 
and bestowed in recognition of service rendered the colony. 
Included within the limits of Dorchester Canada, were 
six earlier grants, Avhich were located and surveyed before 
the bounds of the township had been established. They fell 
within, yet were independent of, the main grant, as will 
appear in the progress of our narrative. In regard to the 
relative dates of these grants, the traditions of the toAvn are 
not in harmony with the facts, and Whitney's History of 
Worcester County, 1793, incorrectly asserts: "To the 
original grant were afterwards added Lexington farm of one 
thousand acres, Canil)ridge farm of one thousand acres more, 
and Rolfe's farm of six hundred acres, and another of about 
a thousand acres." Rev. Dr. Cushing, in his Half Century 
Sermon, 1818, repeats the error in nearly the same words: 
"To the orioinal i>Tant, four farms were annexed : Lexins^- 
ton Farm, Caml)ridge Farm each of 1000 acres, Rolfs 
Farm of 7 or 800 acres, and another of 1000." But he 
nearly corrects the statement when he adds, that "these 


farms were located west of Lunenburg and Townsend, and 
north of Westminster, before this town was granted." It 
will appear that there were six farms, or grants of land, and 
that all of them were conveyed and located i)revious to the 
grant of Dorchester Canada. In the survey and location of 
the township, these farms were included within its boundaries, 
but were not computed as a part of the thirty-six square 
miles that were conveyed in the grant of the township. 

About 1650, Dr. Thomas Starr accompanied, as surgeon, 
one of the expeditions against the Pequots. This seiwice is 
the earliest event of which we have any knowledge, that is 
immediately associated with the history of Ashburnham, and 
leads directly to the narrative of the first grant of land within 
this town. 

I. The Starr Grant. — On account of this service of 
Dr. Thomas Starr, who died in Charlestown, 1654, his widow, 
four years later, petitioned for a grant of land, as appears in 
Court Records, 1658 : 

Whereas Mr Thomas Starre deceased having left a desolat 
widdow and eight smale children was y*" chirurgeon of one of y*' 
companys >* went against 3'' Pequotts in Ans'" to the Request of 
Severall GentP on y' behalfe. 

The Conrt judgeth it meete to graunt fewer hundred acres of 
Land to y*" sayd widow & children & doe impower y'' Tresurer 
and Capt. Norton to make sale or otherwise to dispose of the 
sayd as may best conduce to y^ benefit of the widdow & children 
as they shall see meete. 

It is certain that this oTant was never located and that 
the desolate widow and eio:ht small children did not 
receive any benefit from the kind intentions of the General 
Court. Seventy-five years later, the descendants of Dr. 
Starr revived the claim as set forth in Council Records, 
October 19, 1738: 


A Petition of Benjamin Starr for himself and the rest of the 
heirs & Descendants of the Widow of Thomas Starr late of 
Charlestown dec"^ showing that the General Court of the late 
Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in the j^ear 1658 for Service done 
by the said Thomas Starr made a Grant of four hundred Acres of 
Land to his said widow & Children which has not yet been laid out 
and therefore praying that they may now be allowed to lay out 
four hundred Acres of the unappropriated Land of the province to 
satisfy the said Grant. 

In the House of Representatives Read & Ordered that the 
prayer of the petition be granted and the petitioners are allowed 
and impowered by a Surveyor & Chaiumen on Oath to Survey 
and lay out four hundred Acres of the unappropriated Lands of 
the province so as not to prejudice the Settlement of a Township 
& that they return a Plat thereof to this Court within twelve 
Months for confirmation. 

In Council Read & Concurred, 

Consented to 


Again the petitioners suffered their grant to lapse, and, in 
November, 1734, the General Court with expansive consid- 
eration " ordered that twelve months more be allowed to 
Benjamin Star of New London and other heirs to take and 
return a plat of land." 

Under the provisions of this vote the grant was consum- 
mated and the service of Dr. St^rr, after the lapse of nearly 
a century, was rewarded. The surveys was made by Joseph 
Wilder and returned under date of May 30, 1735. 

The chainmen in this survey were John Bennett and Joseph 
Wheelock. In the mean time the Cambridge farm and the 
Lexington farm, which were granted in 1734, had been sur- 
veyed and confirmed, and the Starr farm, although first 
granted, became the third in the order of survey. The con- 
firmation or approval by the General Court is under date of 
June 10, 1735 : 


A Plat of four hundred Acres of Land Granted to the heirs of 
the widow Starr laid out by Joseph Wilder Esq"", Surveyor and 
Chainmen on oath, lying on the north side of Narragansett Town 
number two and bounded ever}^ other way by Province Lands 
beginning at a stake & stones on the aforesaid Narragansett 
Line, Eighty rods west of where the said Line crosses a Branch of 
Lancaster North River that comes out of Wenecheag pond ; thence 
running north 18 deg'' west three hundred & thirty rods to a stake 
and stones ; thence Running west 18 deg'"' South two hundred & 
Eight rods to a stake & stones ; thence Running South 18 deg"^ 
East three hundred & thirty rods to the aforesaid Narragansett 
Line to a stake & stones ; thence with said line East 18 deg" 
north two hundred & eight Rods to where it first began. 

In the House of Representatives : Read & Ordered that the 
Plat be accepted and the Lands therein delineated & described 
be and hereby are confirmed to the said Benjamin Star and the 
other heirs and descendants of the widow of Dr. Thomas Star 
deceased their heirs and assigns Respectively provided the plat 
exceed not the quantity of four hundred Acres of Land and does not 
Interfere with any former Grant. 

Consented to 


This tract of land can be easily traced at the present time. 
It lies on the line between Ashburnham and Westmmster, 
its southeast corner being on the town line four hundred and 
fourteen rods westerly from the common corner of Ashburn- 
ham, Fitchburg and AVestminster. It is a rectangle extend- 
ing three hundred and thirty rods northerly and two hundred 
and eight rods westerly fi'om the point named. Ten rods 
w^ere added to the length and eight rods to the width on 
account of " uneven ground and swag of chain." The home- 
stead of John Ct. AVoodw^ard lies within the grant. 

Before the close of the year the heirs sold the grant to 
Thomas Green, a merchant of Boston, for two hundred 


pounds, which then was about two hundred dollars in silver. 
Six years later Mr. Green sold the whole four hundred acres 
to Joseph Wilder, Jr. , who continued the owner alone and in 
company with John Joslin until the time it was sold in small 
lots a num])er of years later. While Mr. Wilder had posses- 
sion of this land he also owned the Converse grant which 
lies next west, and together they were known as the Wilder 

II. The Cambridge Grant. — For many years the Gen- 
eral Court of the colony made it ol^ligatory upon Caml^ridge, 
Newton and Lexington to maintain the 1)ridge spanning 
Charles river ])etween Brighton and Cambridge . This struct- 
ure, called the "Great Bridge," was built in 1(362 and was 
justly considered an achievement of considerable magnitude. 
These towns made frequent requests to he relieved, wholly 
or in part, from the burden of its support, and finally the 
three towns joined in a petition to the General Court pray- 
ing that ''they may 1)e in some measure eased of it or that 
the Court would make them a Grant of Land the better to 
enahle them to support said charge.'' The Court, appar- 
ently, was more inclined to give them land, than to offer or 
suggest any other relief, and with conmiendable i)romptness 
voted to each of the three towns one thousand acres of land. 
These grants were made June 22, 1734. Xewton located 
five hundred and sixty-six acres adjoining Athol and Peters- 
ham and the remaining four hundred and thirty-four acres at 
Berwick, Maine. Caml)ridge and Lexington located their 
grants within the limits of this town, which for many years 
were familiarly known as Caml)rido;e and Lexino'ton farms. 
The Cambridge grant was surveyed previous to September 
6, of the same year, for at that date Nathan Hey wood made 
oath that in surveying this grant he had employed his l)est 
skill and understanding. The location and survey of the 


grant were confirmed September 13, 1734. This grant was 
the first tract of land severed from the wilderness within 
the township of Ashbmniham and was described in the 
records : 

A Plat Containing one thousand acres of the unappropriated 
Land of the Province of the massachusetts Bay Laid out to sat- 
isfy a Grant made by the great and general court in their last 
sessions to the Town of Cambridge to enable them the better to 
keep in Repair their great Bridge over Charles River. Beginning 
at a certain Pillar of Stones erected for the North east Corner in 
the line of Lunenburg [now Fitchburg] about three or four 
score rods South from Northfield Road and running South 12 deg 
West on said line of Lunenburg one mile and a half and twenty 
pole with 17 pole allowance for swag of chain and uneven Land 
to a red oak tree marked. Then running West 12 deg North 
on unappropriated Land one mile with eleven pole allowance to a 
pillar of stones and a Little beech tree ; the other two lines being 
paralel with the same allowance and bounding on Common land. 

Let it be remembered that in the survey of this grant, in 
the summer of 1734, Nathan Hey wood of Lunenburg per- 
formed the first act? within the township that is a part of the 
continuous history of this town. Previous events, more im- 
portant in their results, occurred remote from the theatre of 
action. There are records of exploring parties through this 
town, and Great Watatic, Little Watatic,the Naukeag lakes, 
Stoo^er meadow and Souheo-an river were associated names 
at an earlier date. This grant was the first tract of land 
severed from the unbounded wilderness. There is no record 
of any previous act performed on the soil that influenced 
succeeding events. The town of Cambridge owned this tract 
of one thousand acres about thirty years and during this time 
the records of that town contain frequent reference to " the 
Bridge farm in Dorchester Canada." In 1751 the bounds were 


renewed by direction of the town, and in the succeeding years 
several committees were chosen with instruction to sell the 
land, provided reasonable terms could be secured. These 
measures for several years were void of any result. In 
November, 1764, "the town chose Deacon Samuel Whitte- 
more, Thomas Sparhawk, Esq., Joseph Lee, Esq., Captain 
Ebenezer Stedman and Captain Thomas Adams to effect a 
sale" and gave them more peremptory instructions in regard 
to the business. No record of a sale has been found. There 
is, however, ample evidence that the town of Cambridge 
sold the land in several lots previous to 1770. In 1768, 
Captain Thomas Adams owned a portion of the farm and 
sold to his son John Adams one hundred acres of land " being 
a part of Cambridge Grant," and later he sold to Joshua 
Billings eighty acres adjoining. In 1772, the town of Cam- 
bridge enter on record an inventory of notes and money 
*^ being the proceeds of the sale of Cambridge farm." This 
record includes a note given by Isaac Stearns of Billerica for 
two hundred pounds, dated June 3, 1765 ; a note given by 
Samuel Russell of Cambridge for ninety-four pounds, six 
shillings and eight pence, dated August 4, 1769 ; and a note 
given by Antil Gallop of Cambridge for one hundred and 
thirty-three pounds, six shillings and eight pence, dated 
August 5, 1771. 

No conveyance from the town of Cambridge or its com- 
mittee is found on record, nor is it easy to discover in what 
manner Gallop and Eussell disposed of their land. In regard 
to the land owned by Isaac Stearns the records in a more 
accommodating spirit announce that he sold seventy-live 
acres to Samuel Adams in 1769, and one hundred and forty 
acres in 1772 to Simeon Proctor and the same year two 
hundred and fifty acres to Ebenezer Fletcher. In all of 
these deeds the premises are described "as a part of the 
Bridge farm or Cambridge grant." It has been frequently 


asserted and quite generally believed that this land was once 
the cherished property of Harvard University. An exhaus- 
tive search of the records of that institution not only fails to 
discover any proof of the allegation but finds ample evidence 
that the favorite tradition is unsupported and erroneous. 
In the succeeding chapters the families bearing the name of 
Adams, Russell, Billings and Fletcher, which have been intro- 
duced in these proceedings, will be found in continued occu- 
pancy of the premises. 

III. The Lexington Grant; — It already appears that 
this gi'ant was simultaneous with the Cambridge gTant, and 
for the same consideration. The survey was returned under 
date of September 18, and the grant was confirmed JSTovember 
21, 1734. Ebenezer Prescott was surveyor and Ephraim 
Wetherbee and Isaac Townsend were chainmen. The report 
of the survey is here given : 

At the Request of Capt. Boman and other Gentlemen of 
Lexington I have laid out pursuant unto a grant of 1000 acres 
for the support of Cambridge Bridge, at Stogers west of Little 
Wetatuck beginning 46 perches S 12 d. west from Lunenburg [now 
Fitchburg] Corner on South west side of Little Wetatuck to a 
heap of stones then running N. W. 29 d. N 320 perches as the 
shanmen [chainmen] say to a Hemlock with stones marked with 
L about 16 p * * off. then turning S. W. 29 W 500 perches to a 
Hemlock then turning S E 29 d S 320 perches to a rock with stones 
laid on it. Then Turning N. E. 29 J d. E 175 perches to the line 
of Cambridge's 1000 acres. Then turning North 10 perches by 
the line of said Cambrid ge corner and then turning by Cambridge 
Line 40 perches and then to the bounds fir.-t mentioned N E 29*^ 
E. One perch allowance in 50 for swag of chain. 

It will be seen that the northwest corner of Cambridge 
farm enters one side of this grant, cutting from it one and 
one-fourth acres. Accompanying the survey is a map defin- 
ing: the location of the brooks and of two meadows. Within 


the outlines of the larger of these is written " Stogers medow," 
which clothes this name with considerable antiquity. On 
this map, Ward pond is represented a short distance north 
of the grant, but no name is applied to it. The brook flow- 
ing from it is styled Souhegen in one place and Sougan in 
another. The town of Lexington received no benefit from 
the grant for more than twenty years, when the town voted 
"to sell the Bridge farm, so called, that lies in Dorchester 
Canada, and choose William Reed, Ebenezer Fiske and John 
Stone to conduct the sale." In a deed dated December 31, 
1757, the whole tract was sold to seven GJ-erman emigrants 
for two hundred and eighty pounds, who, with others of the 
same nationality, immediately settled upon their new posses- 
sions. The origin of the name of Dutch farms is here easily 

ly . The Bluefield Grant. — This grant of four 
hundred and fifty acres was made to secure the maintenance 
of a house of entertainment upon the line of the Northfield 
road, which was laid out through this town previous to the 
charter of Dorchester Canada. This grant was located in 
the northwest part of the town, and upon both sides of that 
ancient road. In what manner the name of Bluefield became 
associated with this grant, is uncertain. The earliest records 
refer to the Bluefield farm and to the Bluefield road, but 
attentive research finds no explanation of this use of the word. 
Tradition, ever ready with suggestions, asserts, but without 
proof, that Mr. Bluefield lived here once upon a time, 
but the only indisputable thing that we can assert about 
Bluefield, is our complete ignorance concerning its origin. 
Happily, the history of the grant is less obscure than its 
name. To several prominent citizens of Lunenburg had 
been granted large tracts of land in the southwest part of 
New Hampshire, above Northfield. These gentlemen mani- 



fested a lively interest in the construction and maintenance 
of the " great road from Lunenburg to Northfield and the 
new towns at Ashuelot." In the autumn of 1734, Benjamin 
Bellows, Hilkiah Boynton and Moses Willard joined in a 
petition for a gi'ant of land to be located at some convenient 
point on the line of the road. The petition sets forth that 
the entire length of the road is forty-two miles, and that 
about twent}— four miles from Lunenburg there is a " house 
of entertainment set up to the great ease and comfort of 
persons travelling that road," and continues : " and your 
Petitioners apprehending it would greatly accomodate Travel- 
lers more especially in Winter seasons to have another House 
of Entertainment between Lunenburg and that already set 
up Humbly petition your Excellency and this Hon^^'^ Court 
to make them a Grant of Land, in some suitable place if it 
be found on said Eoad, of four hundred and fifty acres of 
land." In answer to this petition, the General Court, Novem- 
ber 28, 1734, granted four hundred and fifty acres on the 
line of the road and ^' near to Lexington Farm." It was 
stipulated in the grant that the survey should be made and 
returned within six months. The survey was not made until 
July 2, 1735, for the reasons set foi-th in another petition 
from the same gentlemen : 

The Petition of Benjamin Bellows for himself Hilkiah Boyn- 
ton and Moses Willard : — 

Humbly Sheweth, 

That on the 28th Day of November 1734 3'our Exelency and 
Honours were pleased to Grant 3'Our Petitioners four Hundred and 
fifty Acres of Land To be Layed out in a reguler form on the new- 
Road from Lunenburg to Northfield within six mouths from y* 
grant aforcs"^ On the Conditions mentioned and Expressed in the 
Grant and order of Court. 

That your Petitioners Soon after the making of said Grant were 
about to Lay out the Land granted Accordingly ; And upon the 


said Road as then marked out viewed a Tract for that purpose 
but were told by Coll. Willard and others Concerned in Said Road 
That it would be necessary to alter the Same and if we Should Lay 
out the Land before the Road was Altered it might not answer the 
end proposed viz. the entertainment of Travaillers &c. which 
occassioned Your Petitioners to Delay Laying out and Building on 
said Land Till the Time Given your Petitioners was Elapsed. 
Since Which Your Petitioners by the Advice and the Desire of 
CoF Willard and Others Chiefly concerned in said Road have 
Layed Out the Said Tract as Discribed in the plat herewith pre- 
sented and built thereon a Good Dwelling House And furnished 
the Same for y^ Entertainment of Travailers, Cleared a consider- 
able Quantity of Land and Got Hay Sufficient for the Accomoda- 
tion of all Travailers using Said Road and have Inhabited for 
more Than Six months Last past. 

And Inasmuch as the onl}^ Reason of your Petitioners neglect- 
ing to Lay out and comply with the Conditions of said Grant was 
That the Good Ends proposed thereby might not be frustrated 
and Travaillers y'^ better accomodated. 

Therefore Your Petitioners Most Humbly pray your Exelency 
& Honours would be pleased to accept the said plat and Confirm 
the Land therein discribed To your petitioners their heirs & assigns 
forever. On Condition they perform upon the Same within Twelve 
months next coming All Things enjoyned them in the Conditions 
of y*" Grant afores*^ they have omitted ; The Time being Elapsed 
as afores*^ notwithstanding. 

And Your Petitioners as bound in Duty shall ever pra3\ 


Tis hereby certifyed that what is Above Suggested Respecting 

the Turning the Road and the Petitioners building and Improving 

upon the Land is true. 


The date of this petition does not appear but it was written 
between July 2, 1735, the date of the survey, and Januarys 
17, 1736-7, when the General Court confirmed the grant. 


With the original papers in the State archives on this subject 
is the report of David Farrar, the surveyor, in which it is 
stated that the grant is located on the Xorthfield road, partly 
on the fifteenth and partly on the sixteenth miles from Lunen- 
burg, that it was laid out in the form of a rectangle two hun- 
dred and eighty-four by two hundred and seventy rods, with 
about one rod in thirty allowance for uneven ground ; that 
the direction of the southern l)oundary is north 70° east, two 
hundred and eighty-four rods ; and is bounded on all sides by 
unappropriated land. It is also stated that the southwest 
corner is forty or fifty rods south of a brook and meadow. 
On the plan is represented the Xorthfield road entering the 
grant ten rods north of the southeast corner and extending 
north 47° west, until it leaves it near the centre of the north- 
ern side. In the easterly part of this grant is the farm of the 
late Deacon Daniel Jones and in the western part is the Xo. 
7 school-house. In 1737, the grantees sold the whole tract to 
William Jones and Ephraim Wetherbee, both of Lunenburg, 
for ninety pounds. The same year Mr. Wetherbee sold his 
interest to Ephraim Wheeler of Lancaster. In these ancient 
deeds it is called the Bellows farm and the name of Bluefield 
does not appear. William Jones died in 17 61. In his will 
his interest in this land is devised to two of his sons, Enos 
and Isaac. The latter son died soon after the death of his 
honored father and the heirs, in 1773, joined in a deed con- 
veying their interest to Enos who was then residing on the 

V. The Converse Grant. — Several grants of land 
were bestowed upon the heirs of Major James Converse of 
Woburn in recognition of distinguished service rendered the 
colony, among them was a grant of four hundred acres of land 
located in this town. In the House of Representatives, 
December 9, 1734, it was ordered that the petition of Robert 


and Josiah Converse, sons of Major James Converse, be 
revived and that they be granted four hundred acres on the 
condition that "within five years the petitioners settle two 
families on the granted premises, each of which to have an 
house of eighteen feet square and seven feet stud at the least 
and four acres each brought to and plowed or stocked with 
English grass and fitted for mowing." The land was surveyed 
by Joseph Wilder in May and the title confirmed by the Gen- 
eral Court June 10, 1735. The descriptive portion of these 
papers is as follows : 

Said laud lieth on the northerly side of one of the towns called 
Narragansett viz : No. 2 and bounds Southerly thereon. Easterly 
it bounds on a farm of four hundred acres laid out to the heirs of 
Thomas Starr, Northerly and Westerly by common or province 
lands. It began at stake and stones the South Corner of the 
aforesaid farm and from thence it ran with it North 18 degrees 
West three hundred and thirty Rods to a stake and stones ; from 
thence it ran west 18 degrees South Two hundred and Eight rods 
to a stake and stones ; and from thence it ran South Eighteen 
degrees East three hundred and thirty Rods to the aforesaid Nar- 
ragansett line to a stake and stones and then with said line East 
18 degrees North two hundred and eight rods to where it began. 

In other terms this grant was located on the Westminster 
line extending west from the Starr grant nearly to South 
Ashburnham village. Robert Converse immediately sold his 
interest to his brother Josiah, who sold it to Gershom Keyes 
of Boston, October 10, 1735, for one hundred and fifty 
pounds. It passes through several hands and is soon sold to 
Hezekiah Gates, who in 1746 sold it to Joseph Wilder, Jr., 
and as stated it then became a part of the Wilder farm. 

VI. The Rolfe Grant. — Kev. Benjamin Rolfe, the 
second minister of Haverhill, was slain by the Indians in 
their attack upon that town August 29, 1708. His wife and 


one child were also killed. ''Two daughters were preserved 
by Hagar, the maid 'servant, who covered them with tubs in 
the cellar. " A son also escaped as appears in the records of 
this grant. The surviving children are petitioners in 1735 
for a tract of land on account of the service of their father 
and were gi'anted six hundred acres which subsequently 
])ecame and still remains an important part of this town. 
The records of the General Court recites the petition in these 
words : 

A Petition of Benjamin Rolfe and the Rest of the heirs of the 
Rev*^ M' Benjamin Rolfe, late of Haverhill deceased, show- 
ing that his said father was emploj'ed divers times as Chap- 
lin to the Forces in the late wars and once in an actual 
Engagement with the Indian Enemy and afterwards settled in 
the work of the Ministry at Haverhill where he with their 
mother was killed by the Indians and therefore praying that this 
Court would Grant to the Pef and his sisters some of the 
waste lands of the Province. 

In response to their petition the General Court June 17, 
1735, granted six hundred acres. The land was surveyed 
by Joseph Wilder, previous to November 7, when the chain- 
men, John Bennett and Joseph AVheelock, made oath that 
they had performed the service "without favor or affection 
and according to their best judgment." The grant was 
confirmed December 23, 1735. 

This tract of land, known many years as the Rolfe farm, 
is located in the southeast corner of this town between the 
Starr and the Cambrido^e errants. It is bounded east 120 
rods by Fitchburg, south 414 rods b}^ Westminster, west 
330 rods by the Starr grant, and northerly 320 rods by 
Cambridge grant and a line of 210 rods joining the corners 
of the two last named grants. Phillips' Brook and the Fitch- 
burg road divide this tract into two unequal portions, the 


greater part lying east of them. N^ortlierly it extends one 
mile from the Westminster line or to •the farm of the late 
Dr. Merrick Wallace. The Rolfe heirs retained the grant 
until 1750 when it was sold to John Greenwood of Boston 
for two hundred and thirty pounds. He sold it out in the 
years immediately following in several lots, and in this way 
it came into the possession of the early settlers. 

YII. The Dorchester C ax ad a or Township Grant. 
— The immediate consideration leading to the grant of this 
township and others in the vicinity, is found in connection 
with the expedition to Canada in 1690. The story of this 
ill-fated exploit forms an interesting chapter in the early his- 
tory of New England. The hardships and misfortunes of 
the hazardous enterprise were shared by companies of sol- 
diers from Dorchester, Ipswich, Rowley and many other 
towns in the colony. In fitting out a force of two thousand 
soldiers and thirty-two ships the treasury of the colony was 
so greatly depleted that nothing was left for the payment of 
the soldiers on their return. In this emergency the colony 
resorted to the issue of treasury notes to the amount of one 
hundred and thirty-three thousand pounds which was the 
first paper money ever issued in New England. These notes, 
founded simply on the good intentions of an impoverished 
colony, so rapidly depreciated in value that the soldiers, to 
whom they had been paid, sought indemnity from the Gen- 
eral Court. For a long time their solicitations were persis- 
tently pressed and renewed without avail until an era of 
grants of land came to their relief. About 1735, after many 
of the petitioners were dead, the General Court, influenced, 
possibly, as much by a newly formed policy of encouraging 
settlements along the line of the disputed boundaries between 
New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as by any other consid- 
eration, granted a township to each company of sixty soldiers 


and the heirs of those deceased. On account of the service 
for which they were bestowed these grants were styled 
Canada townships and they generally received the additional 
name of the town in which a majority of the petitioners 
resided. To the soldiers from Dorchester were assigned 
this town which bore the name of Dorchester Canada many 
years. In the same manner and at the same time was 
granted Ipswich Canada, now AYinchendon, and immediately 
after Rowley Canada, now Eindge. There were many other 
Canada townships but not in this immediate vicinity. The 
adjustment of the province line found several of these town- 
ships in Xew Hampshire and their charters were annulled. 

In January, 1735, the General Court, premonitory to some 
action in the premises, ordered the appointment of a com- 
mittee to take into consideration these petitions of the soldiers 
and "report what may be proper for the Court to do." The 
day following, the committee cleared the deck for action in 
recommending that a township of six miles square be granted 
to every collection of sixty soldiers or the heirs of those 
deceased and that these grants be located between the Merri- 
mack and Connecticut rivers. The committee further recom- 
mended that these grants be given under certain restrictions, 
which need not be stated in this connection, as they are 
repeated in the charters that were subsequently enacted. 
Without gTeat delay, four townships were granted under one 
charter which passed the House June 10, the Council June 
18, and was approved by Governor Belcher, December 29, 
1735. In the order named in the charter these towns are 
now known as Warwick, Ashburnham, Guilford, Vermont, 
and Winchendon, and all of them are of equal age. Should 
the neighboring towns, Ashburnham and Winchendon, con- 
tend for the honors of antiquity, we can enjoy the ample 
consolation that in the charter, the name of Tilestone precedes 
that of Tilton. 


It would be easy to be led into the error of presuming that 
each of these towns was created under a specific grant, for 
the Deputy Secretary made copies for the grantees of each 
town. In some of them, at least, is omitted all reference to 
the three remaining towns. These copies have been mis- 
taken for independent charters. The quadripartite grant or 
charter is here given : 

In the House of Representatives June 10, 1735. 

In Answer to the four Petitions of Samuel Newel and others, 
Thomas Tilestone and others, Samuel Gallop and others, and 
Abraham Tilton and others : 

Voted, That four Several Tracts of Land for Townships each of 
the Contents of Six Miles Square be Laid out in Suitable Places 
in the western Parts of this Province and that the whole of each 
Town be laid out into Sixty three equal Shares, one of which to 
be for the first Settled minister, one to be for the use of the Minis- 
try and one for the School ; and that on the other Sixty Shares in 
each Town there be Sixty Settlers admitted and in the admission 
thereof Preference to be given to the Petitioners and such as are 
Descendents of the officers and soulders who Served in the Expe- 
dition to Canada in the year 1690. Viz one Tract of Land for a 
Township to the said Samuel Newell & others, one other Tract of 
Land to the said Thomas Tilestone and others, one other Tract of 
Land to the said Samuel Gallop and others and the other Tract of 
Land to the said Abraham Tilton and others and in Case there be 
not a sufficient number of Persons named in each of the said four 
Petitions as ware either officers or Soulders in the said Expedition 
or the Descendants of Such as were lost or are since Deceased So 
as to make Sixty Settlers for each Town. That then Such others 
as ware in the Expedition or their Descendants be admitted Set- 
tlers there untell Sixty Persons in each Town be admitted and 
inasmuch as the officers and Soulders in that Expedition ware very 
great Sufferers and underwent uncommon Hardships, Voted that 
this Province be at the Sole Charge of laying out the said four 


Townships in a Regular manner and of admitting the Settlers. — 
That the Settlers or Grantees be and hereby are obliged to bring 
forward the Settlement of the said four Townships in as Regular & 
defensible a manner as the Situation and the Circumstances of the 
Places will admit of, and that in the following manner, Viz. That 
they be on the Granted Premises Respectively and have each of 
them an House of eighteen Feet square and seven Feet stud at the 
least. That each Right or Grant have six Acres of Land brought 
to and Plowed or brought to English Grass and fitted for mowing. 
That they respectively Settle in each Plantation or Township a 
Learned and Orthodox minister and Bild a Convenient Meeting 
House for the Publick Worship of God in each Township. The 
whole of these Conditions to be duly complied with within five 
years from the Confirmation of the Plats. 

And that John Bowles and John Metcalf Esq" with such as the 
Honourable Board shall appoint be the Committee for laying out 
the Township hereby Granted to Samuel Newell and others ; 
Thomas Tilestone Esq"" and M'^ William Royall with such as the 
Honourable Board shall appoint shall be the Committee for 
laying out the Township hereby granted to Thomas Tilestone & 
others ; Charles Church and Joseph Mason Esq'' with such as the 
Honourable Board shall appoint be the Committee for laying cut 
the Township hereby granted to Samuel Gallop and others ; and 
Cap* John Hobson and Cap* John Choate with such as the 
Honoura^^*" Board shall appoint be the Committee for Laying out 
the Township hereby granted to Abraham Tilton & others, for 
laying out the Townships Respectively & admitting the Settlers 
as aforesaid who shall take Bond of each Grantee to the Value of 
Twenty Pounds to the Province Treasurer for the Respective 
Grantees FullfiUment of the Conditions of their Grants each lot as 
aforesaid to be entitled to and draw future Divisions in equal 
Proportions in the Townships or Plantations Respectively and that 
the Committee return the Plats of the said Townships to this 
Court within twelve months for Confirmation, as also a List of the 
Names of the Respective Grantees and their Place of Residence 
into the Secretary s Office that so the same may be examined and 


Regulated by a Committee that may be hereafter for that Purpose 

appointed by the Court and further it is ordered that in case any 

of the Grantees shall neglect or delay to fuUfiU the Terms of this 

Grant such Person or Persons shall forfeit to the Province all his 

or their Right and Interest in the land hereby granted. 

Sent up for Concurrence 

J. QUI^^CY, Spkr. 

In Council June 18 1735 : — 

Read & Concurred, and ordered that William Dudley Esq"" be 
joyned to 'the Committee for laying out the first Township, Joseph 
Wilder Esq'" for the second, Edward Goddard Esq^ for the third 
and Thomas Berry Esq"" for the fourth Township. 

J. WILLARD Sec^>^ 

December 29 Consented to J. BELCHER. 

Immediately following the grant of these townships the 
General Com't instructed the several committees charged with 
the distribution of the land to give "preference to the eldest 
male heir if such there be otherwise to the eldest female" 
and that the heir of any soldier deceased receiving a right or 
one-sixtieth part of a township, "shall pay the other descend- 
ants or heirs of the deceased soldier their proportionable pai*t 
of ten pounds." These committees were further instructed 
to exercise "the Best Care they Can in Examining and Reg- 
ulating the Claims of all Persons that shall appear as Heirs, 
Descendants or Representatives to make and keepe fair Lists 
of the names and Places of Residence of the Respective Gran 
tees or Settlers of the said Towns in order to prevent Mistakes 
in settleing and Regulating the Claims and admission of the 
Grantees." At the same time it was ordered that if the 
expense of surveying and admitting settlers exceed fifty 
pounds the excess should be paid by the grantees. The for- 
mer vote to pay the whole expense had been in consideration 
that "the officers and soldiers in that expedition ware very 


great sufferers and underwent uncommon Hardships." In 
the amended vote it is made reasonably certain that their esti- 
mate of the great suffering and uncommon hardship of every 
sixty soldiers and the heirs of those deceased did not exceed, 
when expressed in financial terms, the sum of fifty pounds. 

Under the direction of the committee consisting of Joseph 
Wilder, Thomas Tilestone and William Royal, the township 
of Dorchester Canada was promptly surveyed by Jonas 
Houghton. The report of the survey dated January, 1736, 
the day of the month omitted, is substantially repeated in the 
act of confirmation which was passed June 1, 1736. 

A Plat of a Tract of Six miles Square Granted to Thomas 
Tilestone Esq & others for a Township laid out by Jonas Hough- 
ton Survey'' and Cliainraen on oath, Bounding Southerly on the 
NaiTagansett Township No two ; Westerly by a Township laid 
out for Tilton & others Northerly by a Township laid out for 
Ipswich and Easterly part on Townshend and part on Lunenburg. 
It begins at a Hemlock the North Easterly Corner of the said 
Narragansett Town & Runs West 18 deg. South seven Miles 
wanting twenty Rods from thence North 12 deg East Eight miles 
& two hundred Rods, and from East 12 deg South Seven miles 
and 100 perch from thence Southerly b}' said Townshend line One 
thousand One hundred & twenty & by Lunenburg line Six hun- 
dred & twenty Rods to where it first began. 

In the House of Represent"" : Read and Ordered that the 
within plat be and hereby is accepted and the Lands therein Delin- 
eated & Described are accordingly Confirmed to the Grantees 
Mentioned in the Petition of Thomas Tilestone Esq"" and others 
in behalf of the officers and Soldiers in the Canada Expedition 
Anno 1690 which passed this Court in their late Sittings and to 
their heirs and assigns and LawfuU Represent""' Respectively for- 
ever : they Complying with the Conditions of the Grant. Pro- 
vided the Plat exceeds not the quantity of Six Miles Square with 
an addition of Three Thousand Eight hundred and Fifty Acre 


formerly Granted and contained in the plat and three hundred 
acres allowed for Ponds and does not Interfere with any former 

In Council Read & Concurred 

Consented to J. BELCHER. 

Our new township now assumes the name of Dorchester 
Canada, which it retains until the incorporation of Ashburn- 
ham in 1765. As yet it is merely a defined portion of the 
wilderness. The rudest haljitation of man has nowhere a 
place in the unbroken forest. The echoes from the bustle 
and activity of civilization have never answered back from 
the surrounding hills nor floated over the lakes. But now 
the compass and the chain, the heralds of the approach of 
man, hem the forests within the pale of the axe and the torch 
and the greed of gain fastens its despoiling hands upon the 
hills and the valleys which for centuries have been sleeping 
in the beauty and quietude of nature. 

The influences which guided the committee to this locality 
can never be fully known. The assignment of any reason, 
at this late day, is speculative. If they came by the way of 
Lunenburg this was the first unappropriated land they had 
found. It is a fact, also, that one of the committee was not 
a stranger to the place. The summer preceding Joseph 
Wilder had been here as the surveyor of the Starr, the 
Converse and the Rolfe grants. 

The attentive reader has observed that in the act of confir- 
mation, Dorchester Canada is bounded on all sides by town- 
ship^ lines. A literal construction of the terms employed 
would lead to the conclusion that the committee here found 
a tract of unappropriated land entirely surrounded by estab- 
lished towns, with an area so accommodating that an exact 
equivalent to six miles square was conveniently left for their 


acceptance. The terms defining the western and northern 
boundaries need explanation. At this time Tilton's town or 
Ipswich Canada had not been surveyed, but it is within rea- 
son to infer there was an understanding between the two 
committees that Ipswich Canada was to be located next west 
of Dorchester Canada. In fact, Ipswich Canada was not laid 
out until the summer following. Xew Ipswich bounding on 
the north had not been surveyed at this time, but it was 
located before Dorchester Canada was confirmed. The south 
and the east boundaries were already established and now the 
surveyor runs the west line parallel to the old Lunenburg 
line and the north line at a right angle and locates them so as 
to include the required area. 

The allowance of 3850 acres for former grants and 300 acres 
for ponds required the surveyor to lay out 27,190 acres instead 
of 23,040 stipulated in the charter. The survey contained 
about 27,700 acres which was not an unusual allowance for 
uneven ground. 

In this account of the several grants an attempt has been 
made to discover where each was located and for what con- 
sideration it was bestowed. An outline sketch, at the close 
of this chapter, presents a summary view of the form and 
relative position of the township and the six smaller and earlier 
grants which were included within its boundaries. The lapse 
of time will add interest to these initial features of our local 
history. In these early grants, extending wider and wider 
from the centres of population, new fields were dedicated to 
the occupancy of man. To this portion of the wilderness 
which has now been located and outlined the succeeding 
chapters will welcome the arrival of the settlers, and attend 
them while they fell the forest, build houses for their 
families, establish churches and schools and wisely direct the 
civil afiairs of the new settlement. 


Many of the persons named in this chapter will appear 
again. Unless incidentally mentioned the names of others 
associated with these events will not be repeated in the fol- 
lowing chapters. Ebenezer Prescott, Jonas Houghton and 
David Farrar, the surveyors, were residents of Lancaster. 
Jonas Houghton was also employed in the original survey of 
New Ipswich. Ephraim Wetherbee and Hilkiah Boynton 
were of Lunenburg. Ephraim Wetherbee was chainman for 
Nathan Hey wood in the first survey of Kindge. Colonel 
Josiah and Moses Willard were leading men in Lunenburg 
at the date of their mention in this chapter. They were 
among the grantees of Winchester, New Hampshire, and 
became prominent in the annals of Cheshire county. Their 
only interest in this town was in connection with the North- 
field road which extended through the township and opened 
a way to their lands in New Hampshire. 

Colonel Benjamin Bellows was also of Lunenburg at this 
date. Subsequently he removed to Walpole, New Hamp- 
shire, which for a time was called Bellowstown. Combined 
with a remarkable business capacity were energy and deci- 
sion of character. It was his son Benjamin who was a 
general in the Revolution and through a long and useful life 
distinguished in civil afiairs. 

Major James Converse was of Woburn where he closed an 
active and eventful life July 8, 1706. He was a member of 
the General Court and three times elected speaker of the 
House. In military affairs he was equally distinguished and 
his gallant defence of Storer's garrison in 1688 is mentioned 
in complimentary terms in the histories of the time. His 
sons, Robert and Josiah, to whom the land in this town was 
granted on account of the service of their father, were influ- 
ential citizens of Woburn, although for a short time Josiah 
is found residing in Leicester. 


A B — Ipswich Canada Line — South part now in Gardner. 
B C — New Ipswich Line — now New Ipswich and Rindge. 
CD — Old Townsend Line — now in Ashb3\ 
D E — Old Lunenburg Line — now Fitchburg, 
A E — Westminster Line — West part now in Gardner. 
I — Starr Grant. 

II — Cambridge Grant. 

Ill — Lexington Grant. 

ly — Bluefield Grant. . 
V — Converse Grant. 

VI — Rolf e Grant. 
VII — Dorchester Canada. 








Dorchester Canada now falls into the possession of its 
new proprietors. Three shares or rights are reserved for 
public uses, and sixty are bestowed upon the persons con- 
templated by the charter. Thus each person to whom is 
allotted a right becomes the owner of one sixty-third part of 
the township. The committee promptly completed the ser- 
vice enjoined in the charter by naming the persons who were 
entitled to a share in the grant. Fifty-four rights were 
bestowed on account of service under Captain John Withing- 
ton of Dorchester, and six to the soldiers, or their legal rep- 
resentatives, in other companies. Fortunately the report of 
this committee has been preserved. It presents a sad record 
of mortality. Only one soldier, Philip Godding, comes for- 
ward and receives in person this late reward for service to the 
colony. It is certain, however, that a few others, repre- 



sented on this occasion by their relatives, were still living. 
The sixty rights in the township were assigned as follows : 

1 — Thomas Wilder of Lancaster in Eight of His wife Susannah 

eldest Daughter to John Pope. 

2 — John Swift Jun"" of Framingham in the Right of His Father 

M'^ John Swift eldest Brother to William Swift. 

3 — Joseph Warren of Roxbury in the Right of Elias Monk of 


4 — Benjamin Cheney of Dorchester in the Right of his Brother 

William Cheney. 

5 — Joseph Triscott of Dorchester in the Right of His Father 

Joseph Triscott. 

6 — Humphrey Atherton of Stoughton in the Right of His Father 

Consider Atherton. 

7 — Jonathan Chandler of Dorchester in the Right of His Brother 

Samuel Chandler. 

8 — Matathias Evens of Dorchester in the Right of His Brother 

Richard Evens at the Desire of his Eldest Brother Thomas 

9 — John Toalman Jun'' in the Right of His Father John Toal- 

man of Dorchester and at His Desire. 
10 — Seth Sumner of Milton in the Right of His Uncle Josianiah 

Sumner at the Desire of His uncle William Sumner. 
11 — John Robinson Jun"^ of Dorchester in Behalf of his Father 

John Robinson eldest Brother to James Robinson. 

12 — Ebenezer Crane of Braintree in the Right of Ebenezer 


13 — WilUam Blake of Milton in the Right of James Morey in 

Behalf of his Mother Martha Blake eldest Daughter to 
said James Morey. 

14 — John Andrews of Dorchester in the Right of His Brother 

Thomas Andrews. 

15 — Joseph Leads of Dorchester in Behalf of His Wife Mary 

eldest Sister to Joseph Weeks. 
16 — Thomas Lyon Jun'' of Dorchester in Behalf of His Father 
Thomas Lyon Eldest Brother to Henry Lyon. 


17 — Richard Withington of Dorchester in the Right of His 

Father Capt John Withington. 

18 — Joseph Weeks of Dorchester in the Right of His Brother 

Thomas Weeks. 
19 — M^ William Cooper of Boston in the Right of Benjamin 
Hewins, at the Desire of Joseph Hewins eldest Brother 
of said Benjamin Hewins. 

20 — Obadiah Swift of Dorchester in the Right of His Brother 

James Swift. 

21 — Hezekiah Barber of Dorchester in the Right of Yonnite 

Modsley at the Desire of His Brother Thomas Modsley. 

22 —Ralph Pope of Dorchester in the Right of His Brother 

Ebenezer Pope. 

23 — Samuel Butt of Dorchester in the Right of His Uncle 

Richard But. 

24 — David Joans of Wrentham in the Right of His Uncle John 


25 — Samuel Sumner of Taunton in the Right of His Father 

Samuel Sumner. 

26 — Josiah Baker of Boston in the Right of His Uncle William 


27 — Mr. William Cooper of Boston in the Right of His Uncle 

George Menott. 

28 — Edward Kelton of Dorchester in the Right of His Father 

Thomas Kelton. 
29 — Robert Redman of Stoughton in the Right of His Father 
Charles Redman. 

30 — Samuel Kneeland of Boston in the Right of Ammiel Weeks 

at the Desire of His son George Weeks. 

31 — Neamiah Clap of Milton in the Right of His Brother 

Edward Clap. 

32 — Timothy Tilestone of Dorchester in the Right of His 

Brother Cornelius Tilestone. 

33 — Samuel Hinshua of Milten in the Right of Daniel Hinshua 

His Uncles son. 


34 — Edward Sumner of Roxbury in the Right of His Uncle 

Samuel Sumner. 

35 — Benjamin Sumner of Milten in the Right of His Brother 

William Sumner. 

36 — Robert Cook of Needham in the Right of His Brother 

William Cook. 

37 — Bartholame Gold of Boston in the Right of His Uncle 

Ebenezer Sumner. 

38 — John Charhore of Milten in the Right of His Uncle John 


39 — Benjamin Bird Jun'" of Dorchester in the Right of His 

Uncle Thomas Bird. 

40 — Samuel Blake of Taunton in the Right of His uncle William 


41 — Thomas Tilestonc Esqr of Dorchester in the Right of Capt. 

John Galliver at the desire of Jonathan Galliver who was 
admitted a Settler. 

42 — Timothy Mossman of Sudbury in the Right of His wive's 

Brother Samuel Hix. 

43 — Joshua George of Attleborough in the Right of His Brother 

William George. 

44 — James Atherton of Harvard in the Right of His Uncle 

Joseph Atherton. 

45 — William Sumner of Milton in the Right of William Sumner 

His Uncle Increase Sumners Son. 

46 — Elizabeth Trescott of Milton in the Right of Her Brother 

Samuel Trescott. 

47 — Joseph Chaplin of Roxbury in the Right of His Brother 

Moses Chaplin. 

48 — Hezekiah Barber of Dorchester in the Right of Eliab Lyen 

at the Deseir of Zachariah Lyon Son of Nathaniel Lyon 
Eldest Brother to said Eliab Lyon. 

49 — Waitestill Lyon of Dorchester in the Right of Her Uncle 

Edward Wiat. 

50 — Benjamin Mansfield of Dorchester in the Right of His 

Neffue Peter Kelley. 


51 — Samuel Burch of Dorchester in the Right of His Uncle 

Eliazer Wales. 

52 — Isaac How of Dorchester in the Right of His Cussen Joseph 


53 — Thomas Tilestone Esq"" of Dorchester in the Right of Hope- 

still Sanders in Behalf^of John Sanders. 

54 — William Royal of Stoughton in the Right of Samuel Sanders 

in Behalf of John Sanders. 

55 — John Sheperd of Stoughton in the Right of His Uncle John 

Sheperd — Maj"" Wade. 

56 — Philip Gooding of Stoughton who sarved under Maj' Wade. 

57 — Joseph Wilder Esq'" of Lancaster in the Right of His Uncle 

Samuel Wheeler who sarved in tiie JExpedition to Canada 
under Maj"" Nathanel Wade. 

58 — Nathan Hey wood of Lunenburg in the Right of John Willis 

His Wives Father who sarved under Capt Savage. 

59 — Oliver Wilder of Lancaster in the Right of Jonathan Fair- 

bank who sarved under Cap* Champney. 

60 — Joseph Wheelock of Lancaster in the Right of His Uncle 

Timothy Wheelock who sarved under Cap* Anderson. 

Except Timothy Mossman, none of these original proprie- 
tors ever resided in the township, yet several of them, or 
their sons, retained their interest and attended the meetings 
of the propriety for many years. The Wilders, the Sumners, 
Joseph Wheelock, Nathan Hey wood and Hezekiah Barber 
became intimately associated with the fortunes of the settle- 
ment. The descendants of several of these proprietors were 
subsequently among the most useful and valued citizens of 
Ashburnham. Here is found the prol:>able cause which led 
to a residence here of the Wilder, Kelton and Crehore fami- 
lies. And in the succeeding records, as the change of 
ownership introduces new names, will appear the first men- 
tion of other families which have been honorably associated 
with the annals of the town. A miniature town was con- 



cealed in this report of 1736. To sixty men and their suc- 
cessors was committed the destiny of a future Ashburnham. 
Had the decision of the committee passed by these names 
and bestowed the grant on sixty other persons, the drama 
would have proceeded with the scene unchanged, but the 
actors and all the incidents of the play would have been 
changed. A town with a parallel history would have suc- 
ceeded, but the name, the men, the order and color of the 
events would not be those which fill the pages of our annals. 
While these proceedings were in progress, the General 
Court had passed an order empowering Timothy Tilestone 
to call the first meeting of the proprietors. This warrant is 
dated September 8, 1736, and the meeting was assembled in 
Dorchester fourteen days later. The proceedings of the first 
meeting outline plans and projects lor the benefit of the 
proposed settlement which are not consummated for many 
years. The record of the meeting is as follows : 

Att a Meeting of the Proprietors of a Township Granted to the 
Officers and Soldiers in the Expedition to Canada anno 1690 in 
the Compan}' under the Command of Capt John Withington late 
Deceased on the 22 Day of Sept 173G att the Turkshead in Dor- 
chester, Legally warned. 

Voted That Thomas Tilestone Esqr be moderator. 

Voted To Lay out the Land as Soon as may be. 

Voted the first Division Lots to be fifty acres and the Com- 
mittee to ad thereto for badness of Land. 

Voted That the Committee shall Consist of Six men and four 
of them to be a quorum. 

Voted That Edward Hartwell Esq. Benjamin Bird Mr Samuel 
Sumner Mr Benjamin Sumner Mr Isaac Howe & Joseph Wilder 
Esqr be a Committee to Lay out the first Division Lots. 

Voted That the Committee do agree with the Surveyors and 
Chain men. 


Voted That the Surveyors each Shall have fifteen shillings per 
Day, they to support them Selves. 

Voted That the Chainmen each Shall have ten Shillings per 
Day they to support them Selves. 

Voted That the Committee Shall have Twelve Shillings per 
Day they to Support them Selves. 

Voted That when an so often as any five or more of the Pro- 
prietors shall judge a Proprietor's Meeting to be necessary they 
may make Application to the Proprietors Clerk for the Calling of 
a meeting Expressing the time and the place and the Occasion 
thereof and the said Clerk is hereby Irapowered to Grant the same 
for such Meeting accordingly and to Notify the Proprietors of 
the Said Meeting and the time and place for the same, which 
Notification Shall be given in Writing Posted up in Some Public 
Place or Places in Dorchester, Milton, & Stoughton Fourteen 
Days before the Day appointed for the Meeting and the Notifica- 
tion to be put to the Public Prints. 

Voted to have a Clerks Book. 

Voted that evry Proprietor to have a Plan of his first Division 
Lot he Paying for the same. 

Voted That evry Proprietor Come att the Next Meeting to 
Draw his first Division Lot, he to pay for the Laying of said Lot 
out before he Draws said Lot. 

Voted That the Committee Vew a Convenant Spot for the 
Meeting House and that the said Committee leve Convenant 
High ways. 

Voted to leve Convenant Places for a Mill or Mills Common 
for the use of the Proprietors. 

Voted that the Committee leve out thouse peices of Medow they 
think Proper to be left out for the use of the Proprietors. 

Voted that Benjamin Bird be the Proprietor's Clerk and the 
said Bird tuck the following oath : 

Whereas you Benjamin Bird are Chosen by a Majority of the 
Voters to be Clerk to the Proprietors of the Township Granted by 


the General Court to the Company under Capt. Withiugton in 
the Expedition to Canada You do Swear by the true and ever- 
living God that you will Duly and faithfully Discharge that Trust 
according to your best Skill and Knowledge. So Help you God. 

Province of the Massachusetts Bay S S. 

Sept. the 22"^ 1736. 
Then the above Named Benjamin Bird Parsonally appearing 
made Oath as above. Before me 

the Peace through the Province. 

Thus ends the record of the first meeting of the propri- 
etors. An organization had been eflfected and the clerk had 
been sworn in solemn form. It is worthy of note that after 
taking the oath Mr. Bird seldom again spelled at with two 
ts while he held the office. His best skill and judgment 
had been invoked. At this meeting appears for the first 
time Edward Hartwell of Lunenburg. He was not an orig- 
inal proprietor but had purchased a right of Joseph Leads 
and became an active and leading member of the organiza- 
tion. Thomas Tilestone, to whom in the admission of pro- 
prietors was assigned two rights, now owns the former rights 
of John Chandler and Samuel Burch ; the four rights were 
probably acquired by purchase. Although the figure head 
of the petition to the Greneral Court it does not appear that 
Mr. Tilestone was entitled by inheritance to any interest in 
the grant which had been secured mainly through his influ- 
ence. William White now owns the right of David Jones 
and the right of Waitstill Lyon is held by Thomas Stearns. 
Jonathan Dwiglit of Boston takes the place of Joseph Chap- 
lin, and Andrew Wilder, Jr., of Lancaster, is the owner of 
one of the rights of Hezekiah Barber, while James Mears 
and Timothy Green represent the rights formerly of Ben- 
jamin Cheney and Elizabeth Triscott. 


A spirit of activity pervades the record of the first meet- 
ing. Hardly had a moderator been chosen before a vote 
was passed to lay out a house lot for each proprietor "as 
soon as may be." Five days after the meeting, the six 
members of the committee, in full sympathy with the zeal- 
ous enthusiasm of their associates, attended by two surveyors 
and nine chainmen and assistants, are upon the ground. For 
fifteen days the stillness of the woods is broken by the sound 
of the axe and the strong voices of sturdy men. In their 
dying echoes is heard the doom of the primeval forest. The 
sleep of centuries is ended. The entire expanse of foliage 
warmed in an autumn sun will never again present its varied 
hues in an unbroken picture of grandeur and beauty. The 
despoiling agency of man has been invoked and soon the 
flame and smoke from the clearing of the settler will announce 
the preparation for his habitation. Under the direction of 
the committee sixty-three house lots are laid out by Andrew 
Wilder, Jr., and Joseph Wilder, Jr. The chainmen and 
assistants were nearly all proprietors who had come hither to 
view their new possessions. These lots were located on the 
west, south and east shores of Upper Naukeag lake, then 
extending south through the Centre Village and east to Cam- 
bridge farm, then westerly on the north lines of the Eolfe, 
Starr and Converse farms and on the west line of the latter 
farm to the line of Westminster, covering the site of the 
South Village, but not so far west as the line of the Cheshire 
and Vermont and Massachusetts railroads. Two lots were 
detached and located in the present limits of Ashby. The 
remaining lots were in one continuous tract of irregular form. 
In these lots were included three thousand one hundred and 
fifty acres, exclusive of any allowance that might have been 
made for inequality of land. The remainder of the grant, 
or above three hundred acres for each right, was still owned 


in common by the proprietors. These surveys were com- 
pleted October 11. Meanwhile the committee had selected 
a site for the meetino:-house and had laid out roads leadino^ 
to it. For this service the committee and those employed 
by them were paid £152-16-6. The sum of £2 was "Paid 
Sundry People at Sundry times for Bringing the Horses out 
of the woods," while £2-19 was paid for pasturing horses, 
which possibly indicates that some of the horses were past- 
ured at expense on improved lands in Lunenburg, being 
more highly favored than those let loose in the woods. 

The second meeting of the proprietors was held November 
10, of the same year. While it was assembled under a new 
warrant, or notification, as our worthies styled it, it was 
practically a continuation of the former meeting. The 
account of the committee already mentioned was allowed and 
to pay the same an assessment was ordered. This action 
called for a new class of officials. Samuel Sumner and 
Edward Hartwell were chosen assessors, Thomas Lyon, Jr., 
collector, and Benjamin Bird, treasurer. The following 
extract from the records outlines the most important of the 
proceedings : 

Voted the Confirmation of the place Marked out b}^ the Com- 
mittee for Building the Meeting House on, and the Highways they 
"have Laid out thereunto in Said Town. The Meeting House Lot 
Contains 10 acres lying squar and it Lieth on a Hill 180 Rods 
South of a Greate Pond and has a very faire Prospeck. The 
North East Corner is a young Pitch Pine and thence it Runs west 
40 Rods to a stake and Pillar of Stons and thence South 40 Rods 
to a stake and Heep of Stones and thence it Runs East 40 Rods 
to a stake and Heepe of Stons and thence it Runs North 40 Rods 
to whare it began. 

Voted to Clear the Highway, and Edward Hartwell Esq', 
Capt. Oliver Wilder and M"" Joseph Wheelock were Chosen a 


Committee for that Sarvice and also to Fire the Woods the first 
Convenant time. 

Voted that Edward Hartwell Esq'", Capt Oliver Wilder and 
M"" Joseph Wheelock be a Committee to a Gree with a Sutable 
Person or Persons to Build a Sawmill in said Town in the 
most Convenant Place that they Can find therefor, and That 
in Giving encurragement to any Person to undertake therein they 
do not exceed one Hundred acres of Land and that they oblige the 
Person so undertaking (by Bond or other ways) to have the Mill 
Going within the space of five months and to Keep the same in 
Repair for the space of Ten years and that he saw Boards for the 
Proprietors for forty shillings a Thousand and Saw timber Brought 
to said Mill for Twenty shillings a Thousand and other Timber 

The same month the committee charge the proprietors for 
four days each, three hired laborers fom^ days each and one 
man one day in clearing the roads leading to the place set 
apart for the meeting-house and a common, which vre are here 
informed and fully realize "has a very faire Prospeck." 

At this meeting the house or first division lots are distrib- 
uted among the proprietors. The eighth lot is reserved for 
•the ministry, the ninth for schools and the fifty-seventh for 
the first settled minister. Here ends the record of the first 
year. A New England winter regains control of the wilder- 
ness and for a time closes the door against the progress of the 

1737. With the arrival of spring, the committee chosen 
for that purpose enter into negotiations with Hezekiah Gates 
of Lancaster to build a saw-mill within the township for the 
accommodation of the settlement. The committee gi'ant him 
ninety acres of land, lying on the stream l^etween the Upper 
and Lower Naukeag lakes and receive from him a bond of 
five hundred pounds, obliging him to build and conduct the 



mill on the terms outlined in the vote of the proprietors. The 
charges of the committee for their services estal^lish the date 
of these proceedings : 

1737 May 17 the Committee four days each 

with the man that is to Build the saw mill ^10' £6 — — — 
J da}^ each to signe the Righting — 15 — — 

the writings with M^ Gates — 3 — — 

In effectino' an aoreement with Mr. Gates the committee 
consume ample time in its consideration and apparently con- 
duct the business to the present satisfaction of the proprietors, 
but in the years immediately following both Mr. Gates and 
his mill were an endless source of perplexity and litigation. 
The proprietors continually complain of the construction and 
management, while he successfully resists their directions to 
raise the dam and make repairs, until the fact gradually 
develops that there is a better head on Gates than at his 
mill, and more revolving power in his mind than in his 

Two formal meetings of the proprietors are held this year 
at the " Turks Head Tavern in Dorchester," and Henry ^Vood- 
man, James Bishop, Joseph Bent and Joseph Herbert make 
their first appearance as proprietors in place of Matthias 
Evans, John Andrews, Joseph Weeks and Thomas Lyon, Jr. 
At the first meeting, August 25, it was voted "to lay out in a 
second Division, Sixty three Lots in the up land, each lot 
containing eighty Acres at the least and in case so many Lotts 
cant be laid out in the very best of said land, that it l)e in 
the Power of the Committee to add to every eighty Acre lot 
so much as to make them equal to the very best Lot, not 
exceeding Forty Acres to any one Lot." 

Andrew Wilder w^as chosen to lay out the lots and a com- 
mittee of ten was chosen to conduct the business. At the 


second meeting, December 14, the survey of the second 
division lots was approved, and a lot was assigned to each 
owner of a right. The tenth lot was reserved for the first 
settled minister, the eleventh for the ministry and the sixty- 
third for schools. 

The price of labor on the highways was rated at seven 
shillings per day, and Henry Woodman was added to the 
committee on highways who were instructed that " but one 
of said Committee work on that Business at won and the 
same time." During the year the roads receive the benefit 
of twenty-three days' labor at a cost of £9-2-0. The charges 
for laying out the second division lots were £224-9-6, the 
clerk and treasurer receives £5-7-0, for his services to the 
close of the year and a few small charges are allowed. To 
meet these demands an assessment of £258 or £4-6-0 on 
each right is made. Only one proceeding of interest during 
this year remains unnoticed ; 

Voted That M"" Joseph Harbort have five acres of Land and 
the Stream by it for to Set a fulling Mill he mataining said mill 
ten years for the Sarves of the Proprietors, the said Proprietors 
paying him for what work they have don at said Mill. And the 
Committee that was appointed to a gree with a man for to Bulding 
a Saw Mill he the Committee to give a Deed and take Bond of 
said Harbort He Paying the Committee for their treble. 

This solitary mention of a fulling-mill is all that is heard 
of it for many years. The committee, to whom the project 
was referred, found ample employment in the management 
of Mr. Gates and his saw-mill. This addition to their per- 
plexity was an act of great unkindness on the part of the 
proprietors. It is reasonably certain that the grant of land 
was never consummated, perhaps, admonished by the perilous 
adventure of Don Quixote and the fulling-mills, the subject 
is not revived. 


1738. Samuel Hay ward has become a proprietor repre- 
senting the right formerly of Eobert Eedman, and Hezekiah 
Gates also appears at the meetings of the board, but whose 
right he has purchased is not certain. Other changes in the 
membership of the proprietors occur from time to time, but 
the general management of affairs continues to be referred to 
those whose names have become familiar. Only one meeting 
is held this year, which is convened August 22, "at the 
house of Jonathan Dwight of Boston, Innholder." Timothy 
Green is elected clerk and treasurer in the place of Benjamin 
Bird. The saw-mill has been built but the contention con- 
cerning its efficiency and management has not as yet suffi- 
ciently developed to prevent the proprietors from considering 
a request from its owner, in a generous and good-natured 
manner : 

Voted That Mr. Hezekiah Gates of Lancaster have liberty to 
lay out Thirty Acres of Land adjoining to the land he has already 
laid out at the Mill between the Pond and the lower end of his 
Land already laid out in part of his Ninety Acres. 

Voted that M"" Hezekiah Gates have liberty to build his House 
on his Land near the Mill and clear as much Land there as any 
one Proprietor is obliged to do by his Grant. 

Also at this meeting Captain Oliver Wilder and Mr. Gates 
are chosen " to clear a good cart way from the saw mill to the 
place where the meeting house is to stand as strait as the 
land wdll allow of." For this purpose an appropriation not 
exceeding eight pounds is made. The sentiment of the pro- 
prietors was taken in regard to building a meeting-house and 
"it passed in the negative." 

1739. A note of preparation for some weighty^ under- 
taking is heard in the early call for a meeting of the 
proprietors. Earlier by several months than in former years 
are assembled the controlling spirits of the township. This 


memorable meeting was held in Boston April 11, at the 
house of Mr. Dwight. Notices had been published in the 
Boston papers and posted at Dorchester and probably at 
Milton and Stoughton, announcing to the proprietors that 
they will be invited at this meeting "to consider what is 
proper to be done about building a meeting house for the 
worship of Grod." Of the time for l)uilding a meeting-house 
stipulated in the charter two full years yet remained, and in 
consideration of the small progress made in the settlement, 
and that so far the plantation had been a continual source 
of expense to the proprietors, an excuse for delay is easily 
found. The record, however, presents no shadow of hesita- 
tion but rather the cheerful voice of a united purpose. 

Voted That a Meeting House for the Publick Worship of 
God be Built as soon as conveniently may be, on the Meeting 
House place in the said Township to be Forty Five Feet Long, 
Thirty Five Feet wide, the Corner post to be Twenty one Feet 

Voted That Thomas Tilestone & Edward Hartwell Esq"-^ Major 
Oliver Wilder, Mr. Andrew Wilder and Mr. Hezekiah Barber be 
the Committee for Buildins^ said Meetinsj House. 

Voted That a Tax of Three Hundred Pounds be laid, on the 
Proprietors, to pay Charges past and towards Building said 
Meeting House. 

An omission to give this record in full would be an act of 
injustice. The will of the meeting expressed in other terms 
would conceal, in a great measure, the resolute purpose and 
firm determination of the act. On the stren<2fth of this action 
alone the meeting-house was built. No postponement, no 
amendment nor qualification of this action was ever tolerated. 
In marked contrast with the early history of other towns in 
this vicinity the first meeting-house was located with rare 
unanimity and built without contention. The picture of the 


" faire Prospeck " was not marred with an exhibition of the 
passions of contending men. Under the direction of the 
committee, the meeting-house was built by Benjamin Balhird, 
who received in six payments £251-17-0. In liis Half 
Century Sermon, 1818, Rev. Dr. Gushing says: "In 1739, 
the proprietors erected a meeting house 50 by 40. It was 
the first frame that was set up in the town and it has been 
considered, and was at the time, as an extraordinary enter- 
prise that it was raised by only sixteen men." This refer- 
ence to the 3^ear in which it was built is of interest, since 
the records do not make it appear whether it was built in 
1739 or the year following. Xovember 19, 1740, it was 
voted to pay Mr. Ballard one hundred and fifty pounds in 
part for building the meeting-house, and at the same time the 
committee was requested to make a report. While the 
records admit the conjecture that it might have been built in 
1740, there is found no cause to qualify the assertion of Mr. 
Gushing that it was erected in 1739. In regard to the size 
of the edifice, it is fair to presume, that referring to it twenty- 
seven years after it was removed, it would have been easier 
for Mr. Gushino^ to overlook the exact dimensions than for 
the committee to exceed their instructions so far as to erect a 
meeting-house longer and wider by five feet than directed by 
the vote of their associates. On one point all the authorities 
are in harmony. At this time the roof and sides were 
covered with boards and open spaces were left for windows 
and doors. It was several years before the roof was im- 
proved and doors and windows procured. 

Two other meetings were held at Boston this year, at 
which considerable business was transacted. It was pro- 
posed to clear a road leading from Lunenburg to Winchester, 
New Hampshire, but the ambition of the proprietors was 
satisfied in the choice of a committee to view and estimate 


the expense of a road from the common to the west line of 
the toAvnship. A gratuity of four pounds each was voted to 
the first fifteen settlers who, previous to May, 1740, should 
build a house and comply with the other conditions of the 
grant ; and a grant of sixty acres of land was made to 
" Thomas Gramble who lately met with some loss by fire in 
said township." An account of this fire, probably the first 
in the settlement, would be of interest, but no additional 
information has been found. At a former meeting there had 
been a decree to prosecute all persons who cut any white 
pine trees on the undivided lands, and now a committee is 
chosen to number and mark all the white pine trees fit for 
clapboards and shingles on the ten-acre common that they 
may be reserved for future use. 

1740. The chronicles now declare the war of 1740. The 
growing discontent over the continued mismanagement of 
the saw-mill culminated in acts of open hostility at a meeting, 
assembled at the inn of Jonathan D wight, on the tenth of 
April. The declaration of war is inscribed in a bold, firm 
hand upon the records : 

Voted that Edward Hartwell Esq. of Lunenburg, Col. Oliver 
Wilder and Joseph Wheelock of Lancaster be a committee to put 
in suit and pursue to final judgment and execution the bond of 
Mr. Hezekiah Grates of Lancaster. 

Forgetting that their treasury was empty and that Mr. 
Ballard was waiting for his pay for building the meeting- 
house, the proprietors do not fail to vote the sinews of war : 

Voted that the committee, chosen to put in suit and pursue to 
final judgment and execution the bond of Hezekiah Gates, have 
liberty to draw upon the proprietor's treasurer what money may 
be thought proper and necessary to carry on the suit. 


Mr. Gates was sued ; probably Daniel Gookin, the first 
sheriff in Worcester county, served the writ. The discon- 
tent of the proprietors had become chronic and relief could 
not be found in treatment less heroic. It was a valorous 
attack, but the enemy was not wholly routed, as appears in 
a call for a meeting to be assembled at the inn of Captain 
Josiah Shelden in Boston, November 19, "to hear what Mr. 
Hezekiah Gates hath to offer for an agreement concerning 
the saw mill and damn." The records of Timothy Green 
are spelled with great accuracy. He fails now in the orthog- 
raphy of one Avord. Probably he did not use that word 
often, but we are sorry to find him using it in this form when 
he is talking about Gates and the saw-mill. ]Mr. Hartwell 
is alloAved and some time later was paid £33-3-0 " for sueing 
Hezekiah Gates ; for charges attending Coui-t at Worcester 
May 1740 and for officers fees and witness fees and for 
laying out ten acres of pine land and laying out Hezekiah 
Gates' land." In 1743, after many votes and references to 
the aftair, the proprietors, in a more conciliator}^ spirit, pro- 
pose to adjust the difficulty on receipt of £40 or £10 new 
tenor. The proposition was accepted and pa^^ment made by 
Mr. Gates soon after. Complaint however was renewed in 
a future year, 1744, in a call for a meeting "to see what 
the proprietors will do concerning Hezekiah Gates ; the saw 
mill being out of repair and no boards." When the meeting 
was convened nothino- was done about it for the saw-mill and 
all minor troubles were forgotten in the sorrows and discour- 
agements of the French and Indian War. 

1741. Several of the proprietors of Dorchester Canada, 
compared with the standard of their time, were men of 
wealth. It is apparent that others were less fortunate. A 
considerable portion of the taxes which had been assessed 
from time to time on the rights in the township remained 


unpaid, and many demands against the propriety were unad- 
justed. The embarrassment occasioned by this state of 
affairs finds frequent expression in the records. Early this 
year it was voted to sell at auction the land of the delinquent 
owners, but before the day appointed for the sale arrived, the 
majority took a more conciliatory course in referring the 
subject to a committee. It is probable that no sale of land 
for the payment of taxes was made until 1754. 

In the annals of this year should be recorded an important 
event over which the proprietors had no control. The 
boundary line, having been adjusted previously by the con- 
tending provinces, was run by Richard Hazen in February of 
this year. A belt of land along the northern boundary of 
Dorchester Canada, containing nearly one thousand acres, 
was ruthlessly given to New Hampshire. Overcome by a 
grief which refused utterance , or sustained by a stoic resig- 
nation which commanded silence, the proprietors make no 
reference to this event for many years. 

1742. The annals of this year are somewhat brief and 
uneventful, and the careless reader might fail to discover the 
feature of greatest interest. Here is found the first trace of 
faction among the proprietors. In a call for a meeting to be 
held at the meeting-house in Dorchester Canada, the first 
attempt to hold a meeting outside of Dorchester or Boston, 
appear the names of Caleb Wilder, Joseph Wheelock, Heze- 
kiah Gates, Benjamin Harris, Gardner Wilder, Edward 
Phelps and iSTathaniel Carter. These were the petitioners 
who caused the meeting to be called and designated the 
place. Former meetings had generally been called by 
Thomas Tilestone, Jonathan D wight, Hezekiah Barber, 
Samuel Kneeland and others livins: in Boston or immediate 
vicinity. The record of the proceedings of the meeting 
convened in Dorchester Canada is brief : "A number of the 


proprietors met at the meeting house in Dorchester Canada 
and there was objection arose about the calling the meeting 
and so nothing was done." 

Evidently, without consulting the Tilestone party, the 
same gentleman joined by a few others get a meeting called 
soon after to be convened at Leominster. Again " there was 
objection arose " on account of the absence of the clerk " and 
so nothing was done." It becomes apparent that in the 
iictitious play of Mohammed and the mountain, the Boston 
party preferred to be the mountain. A meeting was then 
called to assemble early the following year at the inn of Mr. 
Jonathan Dwiglit in Boston where matters of grave import 
were considered. 

1743. At a meeting convened March 31 at the house of 
Jonathan D wight, an entertaining proposition was considered 
and decided as follows : 

Voted That the proprietors give encouragement to one person 
that will settle a Family and Keep a public House with Suitable 

Voted That the sum of £100. O. T. be paid to one person that 
shall build a good and sufficient House — three Rooms on a floor 
with Chimneys iu each Room of it for a House of Entertainment 
and Barn and provision suitable for to entertain men and 

In order that the bounty proposed might be paid to any 
person complying Avith the conditions a tax was assessed at 
this time, but the money was not promptly collected. 
Timothy Mossman of Sudbur}^ built a house of entertainment 
this year, and received eighty pounds of the one hundred 
pounds which was attempted to be raised. The record will 
establish this point beyond dispute. Under an article "To 
do what shall be thought necessary in order that Mr. Timothy 


Mossman may have the money paid him which is justly due 
and owing to him from said proprietors " it was ordered " That 
the sum of eighty pounds old tenor be allowed and paid to 
Mr. Timothy Mossman for his service in building a house of 
entei-tainment and if there should be peace with France 
within twelve months that the aforesaid Mossman to have the 
sum of forty pounds old tenor." 

In recognition of faithful service, the sum of twelve 
shillings per day for seven and one-half days was voted to 
Edward Hartwell, Joseph Wheelock and Andrew^ Wilder, a 
committee " to view out and mark out a road from the meet- 
ing house to the west line and that fifty shillings be allowed 
to each of them for their extraordinary hardship." 

1744. At the threshold of a new year stand the waiting 
heralds of impending war: their messages, borne on the 
wings of alarm along the unprotected frontier, are answered 
in hasty preparations for defence. The settlers from the 
unprotected borders through fear of attack from the Indians 
are hastening to the older and fortified towns. The proprie- 
tors of Dorchester Canada, perceiving that the existence of 
the settlement was involved, adopted early measures to 
create a feeling of security. First, they place themselves 
squarely on the record : " Voted that the proprietors will 
fortify," and at the same meeting one hundred and sixty 
pounds was voted to Asher Cutler if he would "build a 
fortification around his house and receive the soldiers that is 
ordered for that place and have the province pay for billeting 
and keep a tavern with good stabling hay &c to the accept- 
ance of the proprietors." Mr. Andrew Wilder was chosen 
"to view the fortification Mr. Cutler is to build in said town- 
ship." It is reasonably certain that this contract was 
annulled. In Aus-ust folio wino^ an asfreement is made with 
Jonathan Dwight and Ephraim Wheeler " to build a block 


house in said Dorchester Canada and keep a good and vsuffi- 
cient house of entertainment fit both for man & horse and 
to entertain all soldiers that have or may be ordered to said 
township & to receive the province pay for their billeting/' 
The consideration for this undertaking was two hundred 
pounds which was paid them the following year, but no 
record of any payment to Mr. Cutler is found. 

Only two months preceding this agreement with Dwight 
and Wheeler, Timothy Mossman was chosen " to take care 
of the meeting house by nailing boards against the windows 
and doors and prevent the burning of brush near it." It is 
probable that between these dates Mr. Mossman had left the 
house of entertainment built the year preceding. Certainly 
in the following year he was residing in Sudbury. It 
appears, also, that Asher Cutler was the owner of the Moss- 
man inn when he made the agreement with the proprietors 
to fortify his house in Dorchester Canada. 

In confirmation of this statement there is the record of a 
deed dated August 10, 1744, of Timothy Mossman of Dor- 
chester Canada conveying the fourteenth and fifteenth first 
division lots to Asher Cutler of Sudbury. These lots are 
west of the highway and between the house of Seth P. Fair- 
banks and the old common. There is also a distinct tradi- 
tion that this ancient inn was fortified and stood near the site 
of the Powder House. 

At the time Dwight and Wheeler Imilt the block-house 
Mr. Wheeler was the owner of one-half of the Bluefield or 
Bellows grant, and it is not improbable that the house built 
on this grant in 1734 was a part of the block-house built in 
the autumn of 1744 or the following spring. Enos Jones, 
who settled on the Bluefield grant about 1762, was accus- 
tomed to say that there was a block-house and an inn situ- 
ated a short distance south from the house occupied by the 
late Deacon Daniel Jones. 


1745-174:9. If any meeting of the proprietors was con- 
vened, during these five years, no record of it has been 
preserved. It would be a source of satisfaction to make it 
appear, upon proof, that during these years of gloom and 
discouragement to all the frontier settlements our little 
colony had maintained a continuous habitation in Dorchester 
Canada. But a knowledge of the fortunes of other settle- 
ments similarly situated, the absence of any sustaining 
evidence and the voices of tradition combine to destroy any 
such picture and to lead to the conclusion that during a con- 
siderable portion of the time the settlement was entirely 
deserted. If it is true that the fires are suffered to burn low 
on these primitive hearths, they are not wholly extinguished. 
In a little while the pioneers return in augmented force and 
the infant colony grows apace. It was the rest and inac- 
tivity of sleep, but not the eternal silence of death ; and the 
little clearings in the forest, the meeting-house and the mill 
will await them on their return. 

Previous to this date, in addition to grants of land to 
the saw-mill and for other purposes, the proprietors had 
expended above one thousand ^xe hundred pounds, old 
tenor, in forwarding the settlement. Substantial progress 
had been made. Primitive roads had been constructed 
from Lunenburo^ to the meetino^-house and from thence 
to the Winchendon line. There was a road of more 
pretension from the saAv-mill to the meeting-house, and the 
Northfield road extended through the township. A saw- 
mill and later a meeting-house had been built and the 
fruit of civilization had been enjoyed in a lawsuit of very 
fair proportions. Through several clearings in the forest 
the summer sun warms the earth and paints in livery ot 
green the tender blade. A few houses have been built in 
the centre of the clearings. The house on Bluefield farm is 


established by the records. The owner of the saw-mill was 
permitted to build his house near by. The house of Mr. 
Mossman, and the fortified house of D wight and Wheeler, 
were completed to the acceptance of the proprietors. But 
the number and location of the earliest dAvellings have 
escaped record and have faded from the traditions of men. 

The original grant of several towns in this vicinity was at 
very nearly the same time. At the outset it was an even 
race. The proprietors of Dorchester Canada, manifesting 
a livelier interest in their plantation by more frequent meet- 
ings and more comprehensive action, secured better results 
and made more progress in a preparation for the future than 
was made by their rivals. It is probably true that if the 
building of the meeting-house had been delayed a very short 
time, it would not have been built until the return of peace 
after the French and Indian War. Admitting the conjecture, 
the fact remains — one was built, and it was more than 
twenty years before a similar edifice was reared in Rindge 
or in Winchendon. 

The fear of attack from the Indians which led to the 
desertion of the settlement was not without good and suffi- 
cient reason. Any other course would have been rash and 
venturesome. A view of the surroundings as they were in 
1745 leads directly to this conclusion. Townsend, includ- 
ing the greater part of Ashby, and Lunenburg were incor- 
jDorated towns containing several block-houses on which the 
inhabitants relied for protection. The settlement in West- 
minster had made substantial progress, containing about 
twenty families. In that town was a line of ten block- 
houses or fortified dwellings which, joining with the fortifi- 
cations in Lunenburg and Townsend, made a continuous line 
of defences on the south and east, with Ashburnham on the 
outside doing picket duty for the older and fortified towns. 


There was no protection from the north and west. In this 
direction, between the lines of settlement along the margins 
of the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers, Avas an expanse of 
unbroken wilderness through which an insidious foe could 
approach unchallenged. The only settlements on the dan- 
ger side of Ashburnham were at New Ipswich, Peter- 
borough, Rindge and Winchendon. All these were deserted. 
It would have been foolhardy for any of them or all of 
them in alliance to have attempted to maintain an existence 
during these years of danger. History commends the wis- 
dom of the course pursued by these unprotected and feeble 
settlements. It is a well-established fact that the Indians 
were discovered many times lurking along the line of the 
garrisons and ready to attack any unguarded point. They 
were held at bay only by the active measures taken for 
defence. They even entered Westminster and Lunenburg 
and in a part of Lunenburg now in Ashby, they burned one 
of the fortihed houses, killing two of the three soldiers who 
had been stationed there and carried into captivity an entire 
ftimily, consisting of John Fitch, his wife and five children. 
The Indians made their retreat and doul)tless came 
through Ashl)urnham. Electing between retreat and mas- 
sacre, these settlements were abandoned. Even within the 
fortified line there were expressions of fear and repeated 
calls for assistance. July 8, 1748, three days after the cap- 
ture of John Fitch, fifty-eight citizens of Lunenburg and 
Leominster join in a petition for more soldiers "for the pro- 
tection of their lives, " giving as a reason for their request 
"that we are soried to look upon ourselves in a very liazard- 
ous as well as distressed case to such a degree that we can- 
not many of us labor on our farms or abide in our houses 
with tolerable safety." Four days later the commissioned 
officers and the selectmen of Lunenburg renew the request 


for help declaring that for the past week " almost daily the 
enemy are heard shooting in the woods above us." In the 
accumulated evidence of these and other documents which 
care has preserved and research brought to light is found 
the danger which led to the abandonment of our little settle- 
ment and which raised alarm in the older and stronger 

During this period of suspension in the affairs of Dorches- 
ter Canada, material changes occurred in the membership of 
the propriety. Thomas Tilestone died October 21, 1745. 
No other name has become so familiar. He was the leading 
petitioner for the grant and was appointed by the General 
Court on the committee to admit the grantees and also to 
conduct their organization. Subsequently he was elected 
moderator of every meeting of the proprietors, was named 
on the most important committees and until his death, at the 
age of seventy years, he was the leading spirit among his 
associates. He was a son of Timothy Tilestone and was 
born in Dorchester October 19, 1675. Through a long and 
useful life he was called to many positions of trust, both in 
civil and military affairs. His name is honorably connected 
with the annals of his time. In the concerns of Dorchester 
Canada, he was succeeded by his son Elisha Tilestone, who 
from inclination or otherwise made no attempt to exercise an 
equal influence in the management of its affairs. 

Joseph Wilder of Lancaster was a member of the Council 
in 1735 and was one of the committee to admit the grantees. 
At first he was prominent in the councils of the proprietors, 
but occupied with affairs of greater moment his name now 
fades almost entirely from these annals. He was Judge of 
Probate many years and one of the Justices of the County 
Court from the organization of the county in 1731 until his 
death in 1757. It was his son Joseph who was one of the 


surveyors of the first division lots in 1736. Another son 
Caleb and a cousin Oliver continue active members of the 
propriety for many years, and among the residents who 
appear at a later period the name of Wilder will receive 
honorable mention. 

Edward Hartwell was one of the first settlers of Lunen- 
burg where he continued to reside until his death February 
17, 1785, aged ninety-six years. He continues a proprietor 
of Dorchester Canada, but after this date he gives very little 
time or attention to its afikirs. His sound judgment and 
vigorous intellect made him a leader among men. He was 
a major in the militia and was frequently in service in the 
protection of the frontier. For many years he was a mem- 
ber of the Legislature and served in that capacity after he 
was eighty years of age. He was also one of the Justices 
of the County Court from 1762 to 1774. In the midst of 
these accumulating honors and with weighty responsibilities 
resting upon him, he is found clearing the roads in the new 
township seven and one-half days and is rewarded with a 
gratuity of fifty shillings on account of his extraordinary 

On the muster-roll of Captain Withington's company 
which served in the expedition to Canada in 1690 appears 
the name of Samuel Hicks. The son Samuel, Jr., being 
dead a right in the township of Dorchester Canada was 
awarded to Timothy Mossman of Sudbury who married 
Sarah Hicks a daughter of Samuel, Senior. Mr. Mossman 
was the only one of the sixty original proprietors who settled 
in the township. Driven away by fear of the Indians and 
being advanced in years, he did not return when the settle- 
ment was renewed but the name will ever be associated with 
the earliest annals of the place. While he resided here, as 
stated elsewhere, he owned and occupied a house and lands 



a short distance south of the common. From a petition 
found in the forty-sixth vohime of State archives it appears 
that Mr. Mossman had a lease of other hind and that potash 
was manufactured there at a very early date. 

The petition of Timoth}^ Mossman which humbly craves leave 
to show that your petitioner lived in Dorchester Canada and was 
drove off by the Indians from that town, and thereby I lossed my 
House Moveables and Improvements and being impoverished sold 
my land there. I was put in possession of the pottash farm by 
virtue of a Lease from Capt Plaisteed, where I did much labour 
in fencing improveing and makeing roads to the value of Two 
Hundred pounds where also I met with Great sickness in my 
person & familly and was further reduced by the loss of the 
possession of the province land as it became profitable. 

Therefore I pra}- your Excel lenc}^ and Honours from your own 
goodness and Humanity to Compassionate my distressed Circum- 
stances and forgive me the debt I owe to the Province and give 
me a small Tract or Tracts of Province Land that ma}^ be found 
to L3"e betwixt Westminster and Leominster that is useless to the 
Govern'* or the Sum of Two Hundred Pounds or Equivolence in 
land, and as in duty bound shall ever pray. 


In answer to this petition of Mr. ]\Iossman, the General 
Court ordered June 12, 1764, "that the sum of twelve 
pounds, being a debt due from the petitioner to the prov- 
ince, be remitted to him in full answer to his petition." 

The second allegation in the petition concerning the pot- 
ash works under the lease of Captain Plaisted relates to 
events which occurred after his removal from this tow^n. To 
Thomas Plaisted had been granted fifteen hundred acres of 
land, now a part of Princeton, and while Mr. Mossman was 
occupying this grant in 1760 the title was forfeited on 
account of non-fulfilment of the conditions. It is this mis- 
fortune that is recited in the petition. Timothy Mossman 
was born in Wrentham, 1679, and died in Sudbury, 1773. 
He did not reside in this town subsequent to 1744. 








The Congress of nations convened at Aix la Chapelle, in 
1748, eifected a suspension of hostilities between England 
and France, but during the summer of the following year, 
detached bodies of Indians, sometimes accompanied by a few 
French soldiers, continued to menace the exposed line of 
settlements. Not until 1750, did a feeling of security invite 
a return of the settlers to the frontiers, nor at this time in 
any considerable number. One by one the hardy pioneers 
break an opening in the wilderness or enlarge a clearing 
already begun. The rude cabins are separated by wide 
wastes of unbroken forest. The cheering presence of a new 
arrival, or the return of a former companion is only hailed at 
long intervals of time. It was several years before there 
were many settlers in the township. The renewal of the 
war in 1754, and the news of sudden incursions by the 
Indians into Salisbury, Charlestown, Walpole, Keene, 
Hinsdale and other towns in ISTew Hampshire, continued to 
cast clouds of discouragement over a second attempt to pos- 
sess the township. While this state of affairs from 1750 to 



1760 greatly retarded, it did not prevent material progress 
in the settlement of Dorchester Canada. 

Early in the year, 1750, the proprietors, aroused by the 
bustle of preparation heard on every hand, are convened at 
the inn of their old associate, Jonathan I)wight. For five 
years they have beheld their possessions in Dorchester 
Canada, through the dim vision of gloomy fear and fading 
hope, but now assembling with cheerful countenances, they 
forget the misgivings of the past as they read on every hand 
the accumulating promises of amended fortunes. They can- 
not fail to note the vacant chair of Timothy Tilestone. 
Joseph Wilder, engrossed by affairs of greater moment, has 
withdrawn from any participation in their affairs, and Edward 
Hartwell, after this date, is seldom present. In their room 
come Elisha Tilestone, Richard and Caleb Dana, Henry 
Coolidge, Eleazer Williams and John Moffatt, while the 
Sumners, Colonel Oliver and Captain Caleb Wilder, Jona- 
than Dwight, Hezekiah Barber, Joseph Wheelock, Nathan 
Hey wood and others, whose names are familiar, will con- 
tinue active members of the board. And last, but not least, 
from year to year there will be added to their councils new 
members, residents of the settlement, increasing in numbers 
and influence until they gain control of the corporation. 
These, in whom we have much the greater interest, will be 
introduced with honorable mention as they make their 
appearance at the meetings of the board. 

The date of the first meeting after the long interval, was 
February 20, 1749-50. It was proposed to procure windows 
and finish the meeting-house, and the expediency of calling a 
minister was suggested for the first time, but nothing was 
decided in regard to a minister or the meeting-house. A 
committee was named to report at the next meeting concern- 
ing the probable expense and the location of a grist-mill, and 


then, with their accustomed alacrity, they admonished Mr. 
Gates instructing him in specific terms, to keep the saw-mill 
in good repair and to "raise the dam one foot and a half 
higfher than it used to be or ever has been." After some 
attention to the roads, which doubtless needed mending, the 
proprietors directed attention to one subject of no little 
interest. Present at this meeting, and mingling with them, 
was Moses Foster, then almost sixty years of age. For 
several years he had resided a portion of the time, at least, 
in Dorchester Canada. He brought them tidings from the 
wilderness, and gave them an account of what had happened 
there. By him they were assured the meeting-house had 
been unharmed and he gave them the names of those who 
had been to the wilderness or were proposing to settle there- 
Mr. Foster had purchased one first and one second division 
lot lying adjacent in the northeast part of the town, now in 
Ashby. The title to one of the lots was in dispute and the 
proprietors at this meeting made him a grant of fifty acres. 
Not content with this measure of kindness to their aged 
guest, the proprietors vote him five pounds " for being one of 
the first settlers." There is no record of the payment of 
this gratuity, but a few years later a tract of about fifty acres 
was granted to "Mr. Moses Foster one of the first settlers" 
on condition he " shall come personally and settle and inhabit 
there and continue there for several years provided his life 
be spared him." This grant was located adjacent to and east 
of the common, and for many years was known as the 
Deacon Foster grant. It is now owned and occupied by 
Benjamin Gushing. Permission was also given Mr. Foster 
to throw up his house lot No. 51, and lay out another which 
he did, selecting a tract extending north from the land 
granted to him, but not extending so far westward. 


At this time occurred a radical change in New England in 
the terms employed expressing money. In 1736, the paper 
money, styled old tenor, compared with silver was worth 
about one-third of its nominal value. It gradually depreci- 
ated, until in 1750 the bills issued by Massachusetts were 
rated at about fourteen per cent. In 1749, England sent to 
the New England colonies in compensation for the cost of the 
recent war a large amount of specie. The proportion of 
Massachusetts, amounting to $612,330.41, was employed in 
redeeming the issue of paper money at current rates. After 
this date when a sum of money is stated, a pound will 
represent an equivalent to $3.33^ in silver. Referring to 
payments of money previously made, the vote in 1737 to 
give the laborers upon the roads, seven shillings per day 
was equivalent to thirty-one cents, and the cost of building 
the meeting-house was about two hundred and twenty-five 
dollars. The gratuity tendered Mr. Foster on account of his 
early settlement, was equivalent to two dollars and twenty- 
five cents. In 1751, measures were adopted which led to 
the building of a new saw-mill. In order to accomplish this 
desired result, the proprietors first declare their independence 
of Mr. Gates and his mill, and then, in the light of a dis- 
covery, come to the conclusion that the former grant of land 
to him is revoked and can be given by them to any other 
person or persons who will undertake to build another and a 
better mill. With the summary retirement of Mr. Gates, 
the old mill falls into decay, and the temper of the proprie- 
tors is reflected with more serenity in the pages of the 
records. Let it not be presumed that this continued trouble 
over the saw-mill has been unduly colored in these annals. 
Only a few of the many complaints of the proprietors have 
been mentioned, and always with a conscientious efibrt to 
temper their acerbity. 


The final vote was passed, November 5, 1751. 

Voted that the proprietors do hereby grant to Caleb Dana, 
Timothy Green and Jonathan D wight and their heirs, the stream 
of water whereon the old saw-mill was built by Hezekiah Gates, 
and the ninety acres of land, sixty acres of which are laid out near 
or adjoining to said stream, which was supposed to be granted to 
the said Gates. They viz : Caleb Dana, Timothy Green and 
Jonathan Dwight build a saw-mill and keep the same in good 
repair three years after said mill and a good dam is well finished 
at or before the 20*^ day of Ma}^ next or sooner. 

At the same meeting a bounty of forty-eight pounds was 
oflfered to any one who would build a grist-mill on the same 
stream "as near the saw mill as conveniently can be." 
There were stipulations that, at the saw-mill, work should 
be done at a stated price and that the grist-mill should be 
kept in good repair and with good attendance for the term 
of fifteen years. It was proposed in April, 1752, to make a 
further grant to encourage the building of the grist-mill 
and the subject was referred to the next meeting with the 
encouraging remark "by which time the grist-mill will be 
finished." Stimulated by these proceedings a new saw-mill 
and a grist-mill were soon built. Caleb Dana of Cam- 
bridge, the owner of many lots of land but never a resident 
in this township, and Elisha Coolidge, also of Cambridge, 
who settled at this time in Lane Yillaofe, bouo^ht of Jonathan 
Dwight fifty acres of land situated southeast and adjoining 
the old saw-mill grant. On their new purchase they built 
a saw-mill and a grist-mill in the year 1752. These mills 
were near each other and possibly under one roof, and were 
located nearer the Upper Naukeag than was the old saw- 
mill. In January, 1753, Dana and Coolidge sold the two 
mills and the Dwight land to Nathan Dennis of Dudley. 


Mr. Dennis removed at once and took possession of the 
mills and for a number of years Mr. Coolidge remained 
here. Dana and Coolidge for many years retained posses- 
sion of the saw-mill grant. For some reason the grant was 
not confirmed to them by the proprietors mitil 1760, nor 
was the gratuity of forty-eight pounds to encourage the 
building of the grist-mill promptly paid. This delay led 
to the second lawsuit which attended the fortunes of the 
settlement. In this instance the proprietors were the 
defendants and in 1756 paid the successful litigants on an 
execution the sum of £77-15-2, and about the same time 
Mr. Dennis, the proprietor of the mills, secured an execu- 
tion for the sum of £14-15-3. The proprietors, having 
secured the building of a better saw-mill and a grist-mill 
for the accommodation of the settlement and satiated with 
vexatious experiences and the lawsuits attending every 
enterprise in this direction, now leave their management and 
the building of other mills to the enterprise of business men. 
The continued history of mills and manufactures will be 
found in another chapter. 

In reo^ard to the location of the first mills in this town 
there is little doubt. The mill which was built by Mr. 
Gates in 1737 was on the saw-mill grant, located on the 
stream between the Uppei* and Lower Naukeag lakes. 
Between the grant and the Upper Naukeag was a lot of fifty 
acres on which the two mills were built by Dana and Cool- 
idge in 1752. The bounds of these tracts of land are defi- 
nitely defined and the location of the mills approximately 
shown by deeds recorded in the Worcester Registry. The 
first mill was near the lower mill of Packard Brothers, for- 
merly of Elias Lane, and not many years since traces of the 
old log dam could be seen about twenty yards south of the 
present dam. The other mills were about sixty yards east 


of the mill in Lane Village, now of Packard Brothers, for- 
merly of C. & G. C. Winchester. Traces of the dam, in 
the present mill-pond, still remain. 

Referring the action of the proprietors in regard to roads 
and to ecclesiastical affairs to chapters devoted to those sub- 
jects, there are found remaining many items of interest and 
information which relate to the progress of the settlement. 
In the proceedings of a meeting convened in March, 1751, 
and between the record of two other votes on disconnected 
subjects is found the following assertion : "Voted that thirty 
men or upwards residing in the township." This is startling 
information. Turning to the warrant for an article intro- 
ducing this vote there is found, "To agree upon a speedy 
and full compliance with the conditions of the General 
Courts Grant." The conditions of the charter requiring the 
settlement of a certain number of families within a limited 
time had been unfulfilled several years. On account of the 
troublous times which had retarded the progress of all the 
younger settlements, the General Court, by tacit consent and 
sometimes by enactment, had extended in an indefinite man- 
ner the time stipulated for the fulfilment of the conditions of 
the grants. Yet the policy of reminding the settlements of 
their delinquency was being pursued. The solemn declara- 
tion of the proprietors that there were thirty men residing 
in the township at this time should be qualified. It was not 
recorded for their own information but was rather addressed 
to the General Court. If the vote had a desired effect in 
the quarter to which it was directed, it did not increase the 
number of settlers. The population of their plantation could 
not be inflated at will by resolving that the men were 
there. Only a few families were residing in the township 
when this startling vote was passed, and any mention of 
thirty men, if correct, must have included any who were 


repairing roads for the proprietors or clearing lots prepara- 
tory to a removal of their ftimilies ; but their existing legal 
residence and the home of their families were not as yet in 
Dorchester Canada. 

About the time the town was incorporated, and perhaps 
an incident of that event, there are found renewed evidences 
of discord between the resident and non-resident propri- 
etors. For several years the meetings of the propriety had 
been held in Dorchester Canada and in them all there had 
been opportunity for differences of opinion in the policy 
which should be pursued in the general management of 
affairs. The non-resident proprietors in forwarding the set- 
tlement were increasing the value of their lands, while the 
resident proprietors, having a twofold interest in appropri- 
ations for roads and other public concerns, would favor 
larger appropriations and the pursuit of a more liberal 
policy in the general management of the corporation. By 
conciliation and sometimes by the postponement of con- 
tested measures an open issue was avoided, leaving the pro- 
prietors at greater liberty for a contest over the place of 
holding their meetings. The resident proprietors constantly 
increasing in number had now maintained the meetings in 
Dorchester Canada without much interruption for several 
years. There was no injustice in their claim that the minor- 
ity and wealthier part of the propriety could come to the 
plantation to attend meetings with less sacrifice than would 
attend them in a journey to Boston. At a meeting con- 
vened in Dorchester Canada in April, 1765, an unusual 
amount of business was transacted, including a vote that 
nothing be done about holding future meetings in some other 
place. The defeated party on the pretence, real or imagi- 
nary, that "they were hindered from giving their attend- 
ance by reason of the extraordinary freshets at that time 


which rendered travelling thither impracticable," immedi- 
ately called another meeting. In the warrant for this meet- 
ing there was an article providing for the reconsideration of 
all that was done at the April meeting. They assembled at 
the meeting-house May 8. On account of a former vote a 
meeting could not be called elsewhere. In the organization 
of the meeting Seth Sumner, a non-resident proprietor, was 
chosen moderator in place of either Elisha Coolidge, Dea- 
con Moses Foster or Samuel Fellows, who had frequently 
been selected at former meetings. Without a vote on any 
other question the meeting was adjourned to meet in Rox- 
bury, and having met at that place was adjourned to meet 
in Boston. 

The Boston party continued the meeting over a year, 
holding by adjournment eleven sessions. They elected 
Richard Dana clerk in place of Samuel Wilder of Ashburn- 
ham who was elected in 1763 to succeed Nathan Hey wood of 
Lunenburg ; they repealed all the measures adopted at the 
April meeting and voted that future meetings should be held 
in Boston until otherwise ordered. Not until 1771 was 
another meeting of the proprietors convened at Ashburnham, 
when Samuel Wilder was again elected clerk and was con- 
tinued in office until the organization was practically extinct. 
Benjamin Church of Boston remained the treasurer until 
1763 and was succeeded by Caleb Wilder of Lancaster and 
b}^ Jonathan Samson of Ashburnham. 

It is certain that both parties were united in a vote passed 
a short time before the troubles began. It was proposed, 
in 1761, to "grant Mr. Taylor any certain sum of money 
to enable him to build a grist mill in the northeasterly part 
of said township and it passed in the negative unanimously." 
On the question of mills and the general policy of having 
any further connection with them there was the fullest meas- 


ure of sympathy and concord. At the previous meeting it 
was voted to "grant James Cohiian about one acre and one 
hundred rods lying between the house where he now dwells 
and the saw mill yard which belongs to Moses Foster Jr. 
and Zimri Hey wood." The records also declare that such 
favor to Mr. Coleman was on account of "his good service 
in said township in promoting the settlement there." This 
land was in the northeast part of the town and is now in 

In 1761 the General Court so far recognized the settle- 
ment as to impose a province tax upon the lands and inhab- 
itants of the township. The proprietors instructed a 
committee to apply to the Court for relief. The petition, 
containing imformation of interest, is preserved in the Court 
Records : 

A Petition of Joshua Henshaw Esqr. and others, proprietors 
of the plantation called Dorchester Canada, Setting forth : That 
in the year 17G1 the General Court laid a Tax upon them of 
£44_7_1. and three yearly Taxes since. That the Lands in such 
a new Plantation do not yield the produce as in those that are 
more cultivated, and are subject to early and late frosts, inso- 
much that the Inhabitants have not been able to raise one half 
of their bread corn, but are obliged to travel to other places to 
purchase it. That they are, besides, subject to the ravages of 
wild beasts, whereby they lose more young Cattle, Sheep and 
Swine than the value of any Province Tax that could equitably be 
laid upon them and praying Relief. 

The Early Settlers. — A complete register of the early 
settlers of this town cannot now be made. The records in 
the incidental employment of names present no accurate list 
and there is no account of an enumeration of persons or of 
families at any time during the infancy of the settlement. 
The information which establishes the residence in this town 


of the persons hereafter named has been gleaned from many 
sources. In 1751, when the proprietors informed the Gen- 
eral Court there were thirty men or more residing in the 
township, Timothy Mossman and Asher Cutler had removed 
to Sudbury, from whence they came, and did not subse- 
quently return. Thomas Gamble, who was here in 1739, 
had disappeared and in some other settlement was recount- 
ing his loss by fire. The man employed by Benjamin 
Bellows and his associates on Bluefield grant, and to whom 
tradition assigns the name of Johnson, is not mentioned after 
the desertion of the settlement in 1744. Ephraim Wheeler 
of Lancaster who was the managing proprietor of the block- 
house was frequently here until 1760, but probably never 
resided in the township. 

Moses Foster is found residing here in 1750, but the date 
of his arrival is not definitely known. About 1750 he 
removed from the northeast part of the township to land 
granted him near the old common where he was a licensed 
innholder in 1751 and in later years. His name will fre- 
quently occur in the continued record of the settlement. 

James Coleman with a numerous family left Ipswich, Mas- 
sachusetts, 1743, and the same year united with the church 
in Lunenburg. He is claimed as a resident of Lunenburg 
until 1760, but it is certain that he early settled on his land 
in the northeast part of the township, now in Ashby, and 
very near if not adjacent to the first clearing of Moses Fos- 
ter. Possibly when apprehensive of danger he retired within 
the line of the fortifications and being found a member of the 
church in Lunenburg, it was erroneously presumed that he 
was a resident of that place. He was a prominent man in 
the settlement and was later a valued citizen of Ashby. 

Elisha Coolidge came from Cambridge, 1752. He prob- 
abl}^ assisted in building the mills and for a time owned an 


interest in them which he conveyed to Nathan Dennis, 
December 13, 1752. He was a licensed innholder 1759, 
1760 and 1761. He was one of the original members of the 
church and will be frequently named in the following pages. 

Nathan Dennis was from Dudley. He owned the mills 
and was an innholder 1753 and 1754. He returned to 
Dudley about 1756. 

Jeremiah Foster removed from Harvard and settled on 
the Gamaliel Hadley farm in 1753. In 1757 he was chosen 
a committee to repair the roads and subsequently his name 
is frequently repeated in the records. 

John Bates, Benjamin Spaulding and Zimri Hey wood 
were residents of the northeast part previous to 1760. In 
1767 they were included within the new town of Ashby. 

Thomas Wheeler was here and an innholder in 1756. He 
was one of the original members of the church, moderator 
of the second town meeting, 1765, and probably moved 
away that year. 

Moses Foster, Jr., was in Dorchester Canada in 1758 and 
perhaps came with his father several years earlier. His 
eldest child died here in 1760. The family removed to Shel- 
burne in 1771. He lived in the northeast part of the town 
and in 1760 he and Zimri Hey wood had a mill there. 

Unity Brown was a resident here in 1759, but the date of 
his arrival is not known. The marriage of Unity Brown 
of Dorchester Canada and Rebecca Arnold of Shrewsbury 
August 16, 1759, is entered on the records of Shrewsbury 
and Lunenburg. He united with the church at its organiza- 
tion but his name is not anywhere found after 1762. 

Enos Jones from Lunenburg settled on the Bluefield 
grant in 1761. .He was then nineteen years of age and 
was not married until several years later. A part of the 
land owned by him has remained in the possession of his 
descendants until within the memory of many now living. 


■ Samuel Fellows removed from Harvard, 1762. He set- 
tled in the centre of the town and built the first mill on 
Phillips' brook. It was located just north of the blacksmith 
shop and very near the site of the shop of Rockwood & 
Walker that was burned in 1883. With the father came Sam- 
uel Fellows, Jr. They removed ten years later to Shelburne. 

Samuel Nichols from Harvard bought the mills at the out- 
let of Naukeag lake which had been owned by Dana, Cool- 
idge and Dennis. In 1777 he removed to Walpole, New 
Hampshire . 

William Whitcomb, also from Harvard, settled on land 
which was later known as the George Howard farm. For 
several years he was one of the most active and influential 
men in the place, but later his name is seldom found in the 
records. He died here at an advanced age. 

Jonathan Samson, like many of the other settlers, was 
one of the proprietors and had owned a right in the township 
sometime previous to his settlement on the Merrick Whit- 
ney farm in 1762. It is possible he was here before the 
date given. The birth of his eldest child May 7, 1759, is 
recorded here, but there is no assertion that the child was 
born in Dorchester Canada. 

Stephen Ames settled east of Rice pond, as early as 1762. 
He removed from town in 1777. 

Tristram Cheney was from Sudbury. He was an active 
citizen. While he remained no one exercised a more con- 
trolling influence in the direction of public afl'airs. He 
settled where Horace W. Houston now lives, and in 1774 
removed to Antrim, New Hampshire. 

William Joyner was probably from Sudbury. He was 
here in 1763, town clerk 1766, 1767 and 1768, united with 
the church, 1769, but there is no record of his death or of 
his dismissal from the church. In 1770 he was not taxed 
and it is probable he removed late in 1769 or early in 1770. 


Ebenezer Conant, from Concord, settled probably near and 
west of Rice pond. He was residing here in 1763. He was 
sixty-four years of age at that time. With him came his 
son, Ebenezer Conant, Jr. 

John Martin, Ebenezer Hemenway, Abraham Smith, 
Deliverance Davis, who settled on the David Russell place, 
now owned by Mrs. Russell, George Dickerson, Jeremiah 
Bridge and a few others, arrived here so near the close of 
the annals of Dorchester Canada that they should be counted 
among the early arrivals in the new town of Ashburnham. 

There is evidence that a few families were residing on the 
Rolfe, the Starr and the Converse grants at an early date, 
but there is found no mention of the names. 

During the arrivals of the settlers who have been named, 
the Germans were making substantial progress in the settle- 
ment of Lexingion grant. They were independent of the 
proprietors, and except in the sympathies of a new settle- 
ment, they were a community by themselves. 

Ye Dutcioien. — The German settlement in the eastern 
part of the town was a substantial contribution to the intelli- 
gence and population of the settlement. These emigrants 
were educated people, equal in character and ability to their 
contemporaries in the township. They were in full sympa- 
thy with the other settlers in religion, in hatred of tyranny 
and in zealous defence of their political rights. In the 
Revolution no portion manifested a livelier interest or con- 
tributed more in treasure, sacrifice or service. They had 
fled from tyranny in their native land and were quick to 
recognize and resist oppression in any form. The sturdy, 
frugal, industrious characteristics of the fathers have been 
renewed in their children. From the first they have been 
received into full fellowship and admitted on equal terms to 
all social and public privileges. By assimilation and inter- 


marriage, they are no longer a distinct people, yet the im- 
press of this element of the population of the town has been 
healthful and salutary. There remains an impulse not to 
mention the German settlers in a separate paragraph and in 
no manner distinguish them from other members of a 
cemented common community. The impulse would prevail 
save from a fear that the omission of particular reference 
would falsely be ascribed to an indifterent recognition of 
their character and worth. The events which influenced 
their settlement in this town are not concealed. They were 
in Lexington in 1757 and not destitute of money. Their 
imperfect knowledge of the English language and other 
reasons, at once apparent, urged them to settle in one com- 
munity if sufficient land could be found at a convenient 
point. The town of Lexington ofiered to sell them one 
thousand acres of land in a continuous tract. They bought 
it and came here. If Lexington grant in 1735 had been 
located in any other place they w^ould have gone there. The 
deed bears date of December, 1757, and is recorded in 
March, 1758. The original grantees were Henry Hole, f 

Christian William Whiteman, Jacob Schoffe, Simon Roda- 
mell, Peter Perry, John Rich and John Kiberling. All of 
these, except Peter Perry, whose name does not appear 
again, immediately settled on the Lexington grant. At the 
same time or the following year, Jacob Selham, Andrew 
Windrow, Henry Stack, widow Constantine and Jacob 
Barkardst settled near them. John Oberlock and Philip 
Vorback bought land and resided south of the old common 
and near the site of Gushing Academy. Li 1774, Jacob 
Wilker removed from Boston to the farm still owned and 
occupied by his descendants. These were born in Germany, 
and Lexington grant, where most of them resided, soon 
became known as the Dutch farms. 


John Kiblinger — the name is now written Kibling — first 
settled in Maine but soon removed to Boston. In 1758, with 
his wife and three children, he came to Dorchester Canada. 
He was prominent in public affairs until his death, April 4, 
1777, aged about fifty-five years. This family first located 
north of the Wilker farm, but subsequently they exchanged 
farms with the Constantines and removed to the farm now of 
George A. Willard. 

Constantine. — This family consisted of a widow and her 
children, the husband and father having died in Boston a 
short time previous to their removal to this town. She died 
April 25, 1782, aged nearly eighty years. Jacob Constan- 
tine, a son, married July 5, 1773, a daughter of Christian 
William Whiteman. He died from injuries received by 
being thrown from a bridge in Ashby, March 8, 1814, aged 
sixty-one years. As previously stated, this family finally 
settled on a farm still associated with the name and situated 
north of the farm of Joseph W. Wilker. 

Christian William Whiteman, or Whitman, settled on the 
farm now of Warren E. Marble. He was an active, intelli- 
gent man. In this family there were six children, three of 
whom were born in this town. In 1796, the aged parents 
removed to Haverhill, New Hampshire, where one of their 
sons was then residing. 

Jacob Schoffe resided near the Whitemans until 1777 when 
he removed to Haverhill, New Hampshire. While he re- 
mained, his name receives honorable mention in the records. 

Henry Hole assumed the name of Hall. He was forty 
years of age at the time he settled on the Captain Lemuel 
Whitney farm now owned by Levi E. Flint of Ashby. He 
died in this town 1794, aged eighty-three years. His 
eldest son was born on the ocean. 


Simon E-odamell had a farm near the home of Jacob 
Schoffe. In 1777 he presented letters of recommendation 
from a Lutheran church in Germany and was admitted to 
the church in this town. In later years the name has been 
changed to Rodimon. He died 1813, aged ninety-three 

John Rich, one of the early German settlers, was an active 
citizen while he remained in the township. He was living 
in Ashburnham in 1774, but previous to 1778, he removed 
to Haverhill, New Hampshire. 

• Andrew Windrow. — To end a season of discontent con- 
cerning his German name, he found a glorious summer in 
the name of Winter. His farm was northeast from the 
centre of the town. He died November 22, 1792, aged 
seventy years. His widow died 1814. Andrew Winter, 
Jr., resided on a farm that was annexed to Ashby in 1792. 

Jacob Selham resided on the borders of the German settle- 
ment. When Ashby was incorporated, he was included in 
that town. The name was changed to Sellenham. He died 
1769, aged sixty years. His son, Henry Sellenham, is fre- 
quently mentioned in the records of Ashby. 

Henry Stack, later known as Steele, is said to have been 
buried in this town. No record of his death has been dis- 

The Lexington grant was originally purchased by Henry 
Hall, Christian William Whiteman, Jacob Schoffe, Simon 
Rodamell, Peter Perry, John Rich and John Kiblinger. 
Peter Perry immediately sold his interest to his associates 
and the land was divided among them. James Locke of 
Townsend, later of Ashby, was employed to survey and 
divide the land into lots. About one hundred and fifty acres 
of meadow were reserved as common lands and the remainder 
was divided into fourteen lots of unequal areas. 


In the distribution of land among the six remaining pro- 
prietors, to Henry Hall was assigned a lot in the northeast 
corner and a lot near the centre of the south line. Christian 
William Whiteman received a lot on the east line, south of 
the first lot of Mr. Hall, a lot near the centre of the north 
line, and a small lot near the centre of the west line. Jacob 
Schoffe took a lot near the centre of the east line and south of 
Mr. Whiteman's first lot, and a lot of irregular outline in the 
southwest corner. John Rich became the owner of a lot on 
the east line south of the first lot of Mr. Schofie and a gener- 
ous lot in the centre of the grant. To John Kiblinger was 
given a lot in the southeast and another in the northwest 
corners of the grant. To Simon Rodamell was awarded two 
lots near the centre of the grant, one north and one south of 
the lot of Mr. Rich and a small lot near the centre of the 
west line between lands of Mr. Whiteman and Mr. Schofie. 

The Province Line. — The boundaries of Dorchester 
Canada were established in January, 1736. Five years later 
the province line was run which severed a considerable tract 
of land from the township and gave it to New Hampshire. 
Allowing for a variation of the needle, the province line 
was run north 80^ west, while the northern boundary of the 
township was located north 78^ west. The difference be- 
tween the town course across the township would lead to a 
divergence of about one hundred rods. The province line 
entered Dorchester Canada about ten rods south of the 
northeast corner and passing westward, cutting wider and 
wider, it severed one hundred and ten rods at the north- 
west corner. The detached area was two thousand three 
hundred and forty rods in length with an average width of 
sixty rods, amounting to eight hundred and seventy-seven 
acres. In the northeast corner of the township there had 
been laid out twelve second division lots which were clipped 



by the province line. On the northern side of the township 
no other lots had been»laid out. Through the remainder of 
its course the province line took tribute from the undivided 
lands. By subsequent grants, the proprietors make restitu- 
tion to the owners of the mutilated lots, but their loss from 
the common land was never compensated. Twice they 
chose a committee to petition the General Court for remu- 
neration, and as late as 1764, they voted to have the claim 
revived. It had been delayed too long. The era of grants 
was ended. In the prosecution of this claim the proprietors 
joined another which arose from the inadequate allowance 
for the ponds in the original survey of the township. The 
proprietors informed the General Court that the allowance 
of three hundred acres which was then made was an error at 
once apparent, as indeed it was. They submitted an esti- 
mate of the several ponds in the township made by Caleb 
Wilder and Nathan Hey wood. This ancient reference to the 
ponds is of interest : 

The Great pond in Dorchester Canada that 
the mill stands on [Upper Naukeag] 

In the Lower Manoekeeg 

the long pond by mount Hunger hill 

In one of the great Watatock ponds 

In the other " '^ '' 

In one of the little Watatock ponds 

In the pond by the third Division School Lot 

The pond in the Southwest corner of the 

township 100 " 

That part of the Menomanack lying in Dor- 
chester Canada 100 " 

Taken off by the Province line from Dor- 
chester Canada 877 " 

In these statements it was claimed that the proprietors 
had lost one thousand three hundred and ninety acres on 










account of the ponds and eight hundred and seventy-seven 
acres by the establishment of the province line . 

The contributions of land to Ashby and to Gardner, when 
those towns were incorporated, will receive mention here- 
after. The northeast corner of the original toAvnship l)efore 
it suffered any dismemberment was about two miles east of 
the present bound. The southwest corner was at Gardner 
Centre. The northwest corner was within Monomonock 
lake, in Rindge. In the estimate of losses exhibited to the 
General Court there is an error of one hundred acres. That 
part of Monomonock lake which fell within the limits of the 
old survey is reckoned a part of eight hundred and seventy- 
seven acres cut off by the province line and is also included 
in the losses on account of the ponds. 

The Manutacture of Potash. — One hundred years 
ago potash was made in all the new toAvns, and for obvious 
reason the business was continued until the supply of ashes 
became limited. A sketch of Ashburnham found in Whit- 
ney's History of Worcester County, 1793, contains the 
assertion, "here are potash works and have been from its 
infancy ; and the first complete ton of this article carried 
into market was from Ashburnham." It is probable that 
this sketch was contributed bv Rev. Dr. Cushino^. The 
authorship is reflected both in the substance and in the man- 
ner of expression, and many of the details are repeated in 
nearly the same words in his Half Century Sermon, twenty- 
five years later. Dr. Gushing never wrote carelessly and 
the statement can be accepted without qualification. The 
earliest reference to this manufacture appears in a vote of the 
proprietors, 1753, offering to Benjamin Frobisher one right 
of land in the township, whenever he commenced the manu- 
facture there and gave four shillings, old tenor, for each 
bushel of ashes delivered at his place of business. The 


price named was equivalent to nine cents in silver. At a 
later meeting, a committee was instructed to purchase a right 
of land for this purpose at an approaching sale of land for 
the payment of taxes. Subsequently, it was proposed that 
the proprietors agree to deliver 3000 bushels each year at 
6 J pence, or near 8 J cents per bushel. The grant of land to 
encourage this enterprise was never made, nor is there any 
evidence that Mr. Frobisher ever located in the township. 
It is more probable that this enterprise in its infancy was 
encouraged by Caleb Wilder of Lancaster, a man of ability 
and enterprise. He was one of the proprietors of Dorchester 
Canada, and exercised a controllino^ influence in its afiairs. 
He was engaged in the manufacture of potash in several 
places, and was the first to employ kettles in forwarding the 
process of evaporation, and it was here he manufactured that 
historical ton of potash, at that time the largest shipment 
that had been made at one time. One of the early and 
longest continued works of this character was situated nearly 
opposite the No. 1 school-house. The water for the leaches 
was conveyed from a spring not far from the Powder House. 
At this place Joseph Jewett and Ivers Jewett manufactured 
large quantities of potash. The works were under the 
supervision of John Woods. Captain Lemuel Whitney 
and several others were engaged in this manufacture until 
a comparatively recent date. 

The Distribution of Lands. — Yery early in the pro- 
ceedings of the proprietors, the first division lots of fifty 
acres and the second division lots of eighty acres were laid 
out and became the private property of the several proprie- 
tors. Exclusive of the six grants within the township, over 
which the proprietors had no control, the undivided land, 
comprising nearly two-thirds of the township, was the 
common property of the corporation. Passing over many 


votes and the selection of committees to lay out additional 
lands which produced no results, the first substantial accom- 
plishment was in 1762, when a third division lot of eighty 
acres was assigned to the owner of each right. A few 
of these lots were assigned previously but there was no 
general distribution until this date. A fourth and a fifth 
division soon followed. The last were called equivalent lots, 
for the reason that the more valuable ones were given to the 
persons who had drawn inferior fourth division lots. After 
these distributions of land, there remained about twenty 
small tracts of land in different parts of the township, in- 
cluding five islands in Upper Naukeag. These remained 
common property until an auction sale in 1781. At this 
sale a tract of fifty acres was purchased by Rev. John Gush- 
ing. This was the original number 51 in the first division 
which the proprietors allowed Deacon Moses Foster to 
relinquish and lay out another lot bearing the same number 
a short distance northeast of the common. The great island 
was sold to Edward Withinoi:on and the four smaller islands 
were purchased by Timothy Fisher. The common lands 
were the capital of the corporation of the proprietors, and 
when this was all disposed of the organization was dissolved. 
The owner of each right in the township had received five 
tracts of land and had been required to pay one-sixtieth of 
all the taxes assessed from time to time. When the remain- 
ing lands were sold and the debts liquidated, there was 
remaining in the treasury a sum of money which was divided 
among the proprietors, and on each right was paid £2-10-2. 
From a financial stand-point, if the value of the land and this 
insignificant dividend exceeded the amount of taxes assessed 
from time to time, the enterprise was successful. But in 
forwarding and solidifying the settlement, in extending the 
fruits of organization, and in their agency in the control of 


public affairs the proprietors were inspired by loftier pur- 
poses and nobler aims. 

The following table presents a list of the owners of the 
several rights when the propriety was organized and the 
first division of lands was made. Compared with the list 
in Chapter II., it is found that sixteen persons who were 
admitted as grantees of the township had sold their interest 
in the grant previous to the early meetings of the proprie- 
tors. The right-hand column gives the name of some 
subsequent owner of the same right. Five rights were 
continued in the same name throus^hout the existence of the 
organization. In some instances a right was owned by 
several persons in succession. In filling the right-hand 
column in such cases, the name of the person in whose 
possession the right remained the longest time has been 

This list of proprietors introduces many names which 
became intimately associated with the continued history of 
the town. Zimri Hey wood, Ebenezer Conant, Jonathan 
Samson, Samuel Fellows, James Coleman, David Taylor, 
James Spaulding, Nathan Melvin, John Bates, Jonathan 
Gates 5 Nathan Dennis, Elisha Coolidge, Moses Foster, 
Josiah Wilder, Jonathan Winchester, Stephen Ames and 
David Clark were well-known resident proprietors. Many 
of the non-resident proprietors were succeeded by their sons 
who subsequently occupied the lands accjuired by inheritance. 
Among this class the families of Wilder, Stearns, Kelton, 
Dana and Crehore are conspicuous. 

The families who settled on any of the six minor grants 
do not appear in these records of the proprietors, and not 
until the act of incorporation did they constitute a part of 
the body politic. 























Timothy Mossman, 
Elisha Tilestone, 
William Cooper, 
Andrew Wilder, 
Edward Sumner, 
Joseph Triscott, 
John Swift, 

Hezekiah Barber, 
Samuel Blake, 
Edward Hartwell, 

Thomas Wilder, 

Joseph Weeks, 
Josiah Baker, 
Ebenezer Crane, 
Hezekiah Barber, 
Joseph Warren, 
Isaac Royal, 
Timothy Tilestone, 
Isaac Royal, 
Matthias Evans, 
John Andrews, 
Thomas Tilestone, 
Nathan Hey wood, 
Joseph Wilder, Esq., 
Benjamin Bird, Jr., 
Ralph Pope, 
Humphrey Atherton, 
Nathaniel Blake, 
James Mears, 
John Crehore, 
Isaac How, 
Robert Redman, 
Thomas Tilestone, 
Thomas Tilestone, 
Oliver Wilder, 
Benjamin Sumner, 
Joseph Wheelock, 
Ebenezer Clapp, 
John Shepard, 
William White, 
Samuel Henshaw, 
William Cooper, 
Nehemiah Clapp, 
Jonathan Dwight, 
Edward Kelton, 
Samuel Butt, 

















































































































































































































































Zimri Heywood. 
William Babcock. 
Joshua Henshaw. 
William Scott. 
Samuel Sumner. 
John Moffatt. 
Eben'r Conant. 

Caleb Dana. 
John Moffatt. 
Jonathan Samson. 
Recompense Wards 

worth Stimson. 

do do do 
Samuel FelloAvs. 
William Bowdoin. 
James Coleman. 
Samuel Fellows. 
Samuel Fellows. 


Caleb Dana. 


David Taylor. 
Caleb Wilder. 
Caleb Wilder. 
Caleb Wilder. 
James Spaulding. 
Ebenezer Rope. 
Nathan Heywood. 
Isaac Stearns. 
Samuel Dwight. 
John Crehore. 
Isaac Stearns. 
Isaac Stearns. 
Nathan Melvin. 
Caleb Dana. 
John Bates. 
Benjamin Sumner. 
Jonathan Gates. 
Benjamin Hammett. 
Oliver Wilder. 
Caleb Dana. 
Caleb Dana. 
Alexander Hill. 
Nehemiah Clapp. 
Nathan Dennis. 
Elisha Coolidge. 






































Benjamin Jewett, 
Joshua George, 
Robert Cook, 
Thomas Lyon, Jr., 
Richard Withington, 
James Atherton, 
Seth Sumner, 
James Swift, 
First Minister, 
Bartholomew Gould, 
Samuel Kneeland, 
John Robinson, Jr., 
Thomas Tilestone, 
Thomas Stearns, 
William Sumner, 












































































Jonathan Gates. 
Elisha Coolidge. 
Moses Foster. 
Josiah Wilder. 
Henry Coolidge. 
Caleb Dana. 
Caleb Dana. 
James Swift. 
Jonathan Winchester. 
Moses Burgess. 
Samuel Kneeland. 
Stephen Ames. 
Benjamin Church. 
David Clark. 
Eben'r Hemenway. 

Many of the non-resident proprietors were men of influ- 
ence and character and during their connection with the 
affairs of this town were actively engaged in other pursuits. 
One of the most influential and useful members of the pro- 
priety was Caleb Wilder. He was a son of the elder Judge 
Joseph Wilder and a lifelong resident of Lancaster. Own- 
ing several rights in the plantation, from an early date until 
after the incorporation of the town, he continued to exercise 
a controlling influence in the general direction of its affairs. 
He introduced the manufacture of potash here and was a 
leading spirit in all the concerns of the settlement. In 1765 
he was styled major and probably held other commissions 
in this line of service. He was a deacon of the church and 
honorably filled many positions of trust in his native town. 
He died June 19, 1776, aged sixty-six years. Two of his 
sons, Caleb, Jr., and Samuel, became useful citizens of this 
town. In an eminent degree they reflected the sterling 
character and marked ability of their honored father. 


Joseph Wilder, another son of Judge Joseph Wilder, was 
born in Lancaster, 1708. He was a surveyor, a magistrate, 
a colonel in the militia, and after the death of his father he 
was also one of the Justices of the County Court. He set- 
tled in the North Precinct or Lancaster New Grant which 
was incorporated under the name of Leominster in 1740. 
Forgetting that Leominster originally was a part of Lancas- 
ter, it is sometimes erroneously stated that he removed from 
Lancaster to Leominster in 1740. While a proprietor of 
Dorchester Canada, for many years he was also the owner 
of the Starr and the Converse grants. He died September 
12, 1776. 

Oliver Wilder was a cousin of Judge Wilder, Sen. An 
early proprietor, he was frequently named on important 
committees and after the death of Thomas Tilestone he 
was often chosen to preside at the meetings of the cor- 
poration. Like nearly all the Wilders he was a military 
man and rose to the rank of colonel. He died March 8, 

Thomas Wilder remained a proprietor but a short time ; 
his right was subsequently owned by Caleb Dana. 

The Sumners were extensively engaged in buying and 
selling land in other townships. Seth Sumner was the only 
one of this name who attended any considerable number of 
the meetings or was in any way identified with the settle- 
ment beyond the purchase and sale of lands. 

Caleb Dana was of Cambridge, where he was born 1697, 
and died April 28, 1769. Becoming a proprietor about 
1750, at one time he owned nearly four thousand acres or 
over one-eighth of the township. He was a magistrate, and 
at his home and in the councils of the proprietors an active, 
energetic man. His land in this toAvn was subsequently 
owned by his son George Dana, who settled here about 
1776 and died in this town April 11, 1787. 


Richard Dana, a brother of Caleb Dana, resided in Cam- 
bridge ; born June 26, 1700, and died May 17, 1772. He 
was a graduate of Harvard University and an able lawyer. 
Several years he was clerk of the propriety, leaving a clear, 
ornate record. His son, Francis Dana, and grandson, 
Richard H. Dana, were men of national reputation. 

Henry Coolidge, a brother of Elisha Coolidge, who set- 
tled here, owned a right several years. He married a 
daughter of Caleb Dana and resided in Cambridge. 

Joshua Henshaw, Esq., of Boston, as he was styled when 
named in the records, was probably the same who was 
elected to the Council in 1768. On account of his patri- 
otism he was not recognized by the royal Governor and was 
later one of the selectmen of Boston . 

Rev. John Swift of Framingham married a sister of 
Thomas Tilestone. An original proprietor he continued his 
interest in the township until his death in 1745. In his will 
he gave to his son. Rev. John Swift, Jr., of Acton, "his right 
of land in Dorchester Canada," who remained a proprietor 
until the common lands were distributed. He was admitted 
a grantee on account of the service of his brother William 
Swift of Dorchester who perished in the expedition under 
Sir William Phipps in 1690. 

Joseph Wheelock of Lancaster, and after 1740 of Leom- 
inster, served on important committees in the earlier pro- 
ceedings, but after 1760 his right was owned by Jonathan 
Gates who became a settler. 

Rev. William Cooper was pastor of the Brattle Street 
Church, Boston. He was the orio^inal owner of two riahts 
which were subsequently owned by Alexander Hill and 
Joshua Henshaw. 

Isaac Stearns was not a proprietor until about 1760. He 
was a son of Hon. John Stearns of Billerica where he was 


born June 16, 1722, and there resided until his death April 
23, 1808. He was a representative, a senator, a magistrate 
and a most useful citizen. By his associates in the propriety 
he was held in great esteem and was frequently named on 
important committees. Two of his sons, Isaac and William, 
subsequently settled in this town. 

With the close of this chapter we leave the non-resident 
proprietors in the retirement of their homes. Many of the 
later proprietors became residents and in the following 
chapters it will appear that the propriety introduced to the 
town a considerable number of its most valued and useful 
citizens. The proprietors left the town many legacies. An 
unwearied effort to forward the settlement had been a con- 
stant aim and purpose. The meeting-house, the mills, the 
division of the town into lots, and an initial system of roads 
must be placed to their credit. In the proceedings of their 
meetings the settlers became familiar with method and sys- 
tem which they subsequently called to their aid in the man- 
agement of town affairs. They left an impress and imparted 
a character to the settlement that reflects in pleasing lines 
the worth of the men and the spirit of the organization. 






AsHBURNHAM was incorporated February 22, 1765. In 
this decisive measure several interests were involved. The 
concern of the non-resident proprietors in an act of incor- 
poration was measured by its probable effect upon the value 
of their lands in the township ; to the resident proprietors 
with an equal interest in the value of lands were tendered the 
responsibilities and privileges of citizenship in the proposed 
town ; there were also a few residents who were not pro- 
prietors and whose only interest was of a personal character, 
and last there were the settlers on the independent grants or 
farms, as they were commonly called. Nearly all of the last 
named class were the Germans, who had settled on the Lex- 
ington grant. Until the town was incorporated they had 
constituted a little republic and were as independent of the 
proprietors as were the inhabitants of the neighboring towns. 
They built roads within their grant and managed their inter- 
nal affairs with no intermediate authority between themselves 



and the laws of the province. It was the office of an act of 
incorporation to join and cement these several interests and 
give to every citizen an equal voice in the management of 
public affairs. The measure of deliberation and conference 
which led to a union of these interests in the solicitation for 
incorporation cannot be determined. There is no evidence 
of any discord in the progress of these proceedings, yet it 
is certain that the resident proprietors were the first to pro- 
pose the measure. Their petition was considered by the 
General Court as early as June 7, 1763, when it was 
resolved that the prayer of the petition of the inhabitants of 
Dorchester Canada to be incorporated be granted, and that 
they have leave to bring in a bill. At a meeting of the propri- 
etors in May, 1764, it was decided to apply to the General 
Court for an act of incorporation. Richard Dana, Joshua 
Henshaw and Caleb Dana were chosen to present their peti- 
tion. To this committee, Samuel Fellows, Elisha Coolidge, 
Jonathan Samson and Samuel Nichols were joined to rep- 
resent the inhabitants. In accordance with their instructions 
the committee of the proprietors joined by Samuel Nichols 
representing the residents of the township presented the fol- 
lowing petition : 

To his Excel*^^ Francis Bernard Esq'" Capt° general & govern'" 
in chief in & over his Majesty's province of Massachusetts Bay, 
the Hon'ble his Majesty's Council and the Hon''^^ house of repre- 
sentatives in general court assembled at Concord on y^ 5*^ day of 
June Anno Dom. 1764. 

Humbly Sheweth 

The proprietors & inhabitants of that planta- 
tion in the county of Worcester call'd Dorchester Canada That 
its inhabitants are now increased to such a number as in the 
petitioners humble opinion makes it fiting & Expedient for them 
to be incorporated into a town. That y^ s^ proprietors long since 


built a meeting house there for public worship & for y^ space of 
four years last past & more have had an able learned & orthodox 
minist^ of y^ gospel settled there whom y^ petit" have supported 
hitherto. That y^ incorporating y^ s*^ plantation will greatl}^ pro- 
mote the growth thereof by removing the great and unavoidable 
inconveniences which they have hitherto laboured under & will 
continue during their present situation. That for promoting 
their incorporation y^ petit" have agreed & voted that a tax of 
three half pence an acre be laid by y' ExceP^ & Hon^ upon 
all y^ lands & farms within y^ limits & plan of y^ s*^ plantation, 
(except y^ Cambridge farm, parsonage or ministry lands & y® 
school lands) to continue for y*" term of three years from y^ 25*^ 
day of Jan^ last, sixty pounds thereof to be annually applied for 
y^ paym* of their minister's salary &y^ residue for further finishing 
their meeting house afores*^, Keeping y^ public county road there 
in due repair & for necessary charges. 

Wherefore your petitioners pray that the plantation afores*^ 
with all the lands & farms within y^ plantation and limits thereof 
may be incorporated into a town & that y^ inhabitants thereof 
may be invested with y® like power & privileges that other towns 
in this province are invested withall. And that y^ afores*^ tax as 
agreed upon may be ratified & confirmed. And y'" petit" as in 
duty bound will ever pray. 






It is prayed y* y^ intended town may be called Ashfield . 

The request of the petitioners that the new town be 
called Ashfield was disregarded by the royal Governor. At 
that date the nobility of England were frequently compli- 
mented in the selection of names for the incorporated towns, 
and Governor Bernard was greatly inclined to this system 


of nomenclature. The town of Ashfield in this State 
received its name and its charter only four months after the 
incorporation of this town, In the employment of that 
name it is asserted that the Governor tendered a compliment 
to Lord Thurlow of Ashfield, a member of the king's coun- 
cil. It is possible that some of the proprietors of Dorches- 
ter Canada who were on intimate terms with Governor 
Bernard proposed the name with a knowledge that it was 
one he held in reserve for early use, or with equal proba- 
bility it may be presumed that with more immediate associa- 
tions the inhabitants found in Ashfield a fitting name for a 
town engaged in the manufacture of potash. In either event 
the suggestion was of no avail. The General Court, with 
an accommodating regard for an assumed prerogative of the 
Governor, in the act of incorporation, left the name a blank, 
which was subsequently supplied with the name of Ashburn- 
ham which is supposed to be in honor of John, the second 
Earl of Ashburnham. It is a good name and consequently 
better than precious ointment. 

It is probable that the settlers had selected their com- 
mittee in advance, and that they were joined with the other 
committee by the proprietors in courteous recognition of the 
fact. Further evidence of conference appears in a vote of 
the proprietors obligating themselves to pay into the treas- 
ury of the proposed town for a term of years an annual tax 
of three half pence on each acre of land owned by them, 
provided the other lands in the township were taxed at the 
same rate. This agreement between the resident and non- 
resident proprietors, was recognized by the general Court 
and was made a part of the act of incorporation. An 
exception, however, was made 'by the Legislature of Cam- 
bridge farm, then owned by the town of Cambridge, and for 
that reason it was exempted from the payment of the pro- 


posed tax. An act of incorporation, with no name of the 
town inserted, passed both houses of the General Court 
February 15, 1765, and four days later the engrossed bill 
bearins: the name of Ashburnham was sent to the Governor 
for approval. The bill was signed February 22, 1765, the 
day that Washington entered upon his thirty-fourth year. 
The act creating a town and vesting it with civic powers 
and privileges, is in the following terms : 

An Act for incorporating a new Plantation in the county of 
Worcester called and known by the name of Dorchester Canada 
into a Town by the name of Ashburnham. 

Whereas the inhabitants of the Plantation called and known by 
the name of Dorchester Canada labour under man}^ diflSculties and 
inconveniences by reason of their not being incorporated : There- 
fore for the removal thereof — 

Be it enacted by the Governor, Council and House of Repre- 
sentatives, that the Plantation commonly known by the name of 
Dorchester Canada according to the bounds of the original grant 
thereof made by the General Court the first day of June 1736 
being as follows, viz : 

A Tract of Land of six miles square bounding southerly on the 
Narraganset Township N° 2 Westerly on a Township laid out 
for Tilton and others. Northerly on a township laid out for 
Ipswich and Easterl3' part on Townsend and part on Lunenburg. 
It begins at a Hemlock, the northeasterly corner of the said 
Narraganset Town and runs West Eighteen degrees South seven 
miles wanting twenty rods ; from thence North twelve degrees 
East eight miles and two hundred rods ; and from thence East 
twelve degrees South seven miles and one hundred perch ; from 
thence Southerly by said Townsend line one thousand one hundred 
and twenty rods and by Lunenburg line six hundred and twenty 
rods to where it first began. And the Inhabitants of the same 
Plantation together with all the Lands and Farms included within 
the same boundaries be and hereby are incorporated into a town, 


by the name of Ashburnham, and that the same town be and 
hereby is vested with all the powers privileges and immunities, that 
an}' other of the towns in this Province do or may by law exercise 
and enjoy. 

And whereas it is agreed between the Inhabitants of the Plan- 
tation aforesaid and the Proprietors of the common and undivided 
lands there, that a tax of three half pence an acre be laid upon all 
the land within the same (Excepting Cambridge Farm and the 
lands alloted and reserved for the ministry, the first settled minis- 
ter there and the school) for the space of three 3"ears from the 
fifth and twentieth day of January one thousand seven hundred 
and sixty-four ; Sixty pounds whereof to be annually applied to 
and for the payment of the minister's salary and the residue 
towards finishing the public meeting house there and for repairing 
the public roads through the said Plantation from and after the 
aforesaid twenty-fifth day of January. 

Be it therefore Enacted, that there be and hereby is granted a 
tax of three half pence an acre to be annually levied and assessed 
upon all the lands in the aforesaid Township (except the lands 
and farms before excepted) for the term aforesaid and for the uses 
and purposes aforesaid and that the proprietors aforesaid be 
thenceforward discharged and free from all further and other 
taxes and expenses on account of those articles and every of 
them, unless by order of this Court. 

And be it further enacted that Joseph Wilder Esq be and he 
hereby is impowered to issue his Warrant to some one of the 
principal Inhabitants of the aforesaid new Town, requiring him to 
warn the Inhabitants thereof to assemble at the aforesaid Meeting 
House sometime in the month of March next to choose all town 
officers b}' law required for carrying on and managing the aflfairs 
of the said town and to assess levy and collect the tax aforesaid. 

In compliance with the duty enjoined in the act, Joseph 
Wilder of Leominster, who was then one of the justices of 
the County Court, issued the following warrant : 



Worcester ss. To Dea Samuel Fellows, one of the principal 
inhabitants of the new town of Ashburnham Greeting :— In his 
Majesty's name 3'ou are required to warn all the Inhabitants of 
said Ashburnham to assemble at the Meeting House in said town 
on Monday the twenty-fifth day of this instant March at ten 
o'clock in the forenoon to choose a Moderator to govern said 
meeting and to choose all town officers as before recited and to 
agree how to call meetings for the future. 

Hereof fail not and make due return. 

Given under my hand and seal this eleventh day of March in 
the fifth year of his Majesty's reign Anno Domini 1765. 


Justice of the Peace. 

By the terms of his instructions Judge Wilder was 
required to issue his warrant to one of the principal men of 
the place. The mantle of honor fell upon Deacon Fellows. 
The selection was approved by the town who made choice of 
the same principal inhabitant to preside over the first town 
meeting assembled in Ashburnham. William Whitcomb 
was chosen town clerk, and the principal inhabitants were so 
numerous that five were delegated to perform the duties of 
selectmen. They were Deacon Samuel Fellows, Tristram 
Cheney, James Coleman, John Eich and Jonathan Gates. 
Jonathan Gates was also chosen constable and Samuel 
Wilder collector of taxes. For assessors the town chose 
Samuel Wilder, William Joyner and John Bates. The 
town had no money, but anticipating future possibilities, 
Deacon Samuel Fellows was chosen treasurer. For wardens 
the town selected Deliverance Davis and Jacob Schoffe. 
The highway surveyors were Stephen Ames, Tristram 
Cheney, Deliverance Davis, James Coleman and Jonathan 
Samson. To the oflSce of tithingmen with its solemn obli- 
gations the town called Tristram Cheney and John Kiblinger. 


Elisha Coolidge was made surveyor of boards and shingles 
and also of wheat. For deer reeves the town solicited the 
watchful attention of Xathan Melvin and William Benjamin. 
The custody of weights and measures, if they had any, was 
delegated to Elisha Coolidge. Christian William Whiteman 
and John Samson were selected for "vewers," an office 
relating to the division of lands, and then with the choice of 
Henry Selham and Samuel Foster to officiate as hog reeves, 
the list of officers was completed. The next meeting was 
called in his Majesty's name to assemble on the twenty-ninth 
of April for the transaction of business which could not be 
considered under the former warrant. Thomas Wheeler, 
who was not named in the proceedings of the first meeting, 
was chosen moderator. It was voted to raise six pounds to 
defray town charges and " fifty pounds to make and mend 
private ways." For labor upon the roads it was voted to 
allow two shillings and six pence per day for each man and 
one shilling and four pence for a pair of oxen. The number 
of hours was not stipulated. Samuel Wilder, William Joyner 
and John Bates were chosen to sell the land of delinquent 
tax-payers, and after a vote to let swine run at large the 
ensuing year, in a motion to adjourn they secured an equal 
libei-ty for themselves. Two other town meetings were 
called before the close of the year. At the former the town 
declined to send a representative to the General Coui-t, and 
at the second meeting Samuel Nichols was chosen collector 
of taxes in room of Samuel Wilder who was out of town 
about one year. In June of this year Tristram Cheney and 
William Joyner certify that they have " perambulated the 
line between Winghendon and Ashburnham." 

With their enlarged privileges under the act of incorpora- 
tion the settlers were met with heavy burdens in the form of 
taxes. The land tax for 1764 and 1765, amounting to £2oOy 


a province tax of £30, a county tax £1-11-0, and a tax of 
£6 to defray town expenses, must have placed them on 
familiar terms and close relations witli the collector of taxes. 
Scarcely had the town been organized and the inhabitants 
become familiar with their new duties and privileges when 
several families and fifteen hundred acres of land were joined 
to another township. Ashby was incorporated March 5, 
1767, but the proceedings in which the inhabitants of Ash- 
burnham participated occurred at an earlier date. Until 
1764 the territory included within the present towns of 
Townsend, Lunenburg, Ashburnham, Fitchburg and Ashby 
was embraced by the three towns first named. In 1764 
Fitchburg was set ofi" from Lunenburo: and at that time 
included the southern part of Ashby. The incorporation of 
Ashburnham in the following year did not change boundary 
lines. Very soon after, Ashby was formed from portions of 
Townsend, Fitchburg and Ashburnham. Thus John Fitch 
and others, living in 1763 in the vicinity of the present resi- 
dence of Paul Gates in the southern part of Ashby, were 
residents of Lunenburg; in 1764 they were in Fitchburg, 
and in 1767 they were in Ashby. With bewildering sud- 
denness and without a change of residence they were citizens 
of three towns and attended town meetings in as many 
places in this brief space of time. The original petition, for 
the creation of Ashby, was before the General Court several 
months before Ashburnham was incorporated. While a 
part of the petitioners for Ashby were pressing a solicitation 
to become inhabitants of one town they were included within 
another. They continued, however, to pursue their original 
project and joining with the other petitioners an organization 
was effected and a committee, consisting of John Fitch of 
Fitchburg, Jacob Schoffe of Ashburnham and James Locke, 
Jr., of Townsend, was chosen to appear before the General 


Coiii-t ill support of their petition. At a meeting of the pro- 
prietors only a few days after the incorporation of Ashburn- 
ham a committee was chosen to remonstrate against the loss 
of the most thickly settled portion of the town. The follow- 
ing year the subject was laid before the town at a special 
meeting called for that purpose. The petitioners in the 
northeast part of the town joined by the Germans were a 
clear majority of the town. Conscious of their power, they 
proposed to carry with themselves a very considerable por- 
tion of the township, including the Cambridge and Lexing- 
ton forms and all that part of Ashburnham east of a line 
running from the northwest corner of Lexington farm across 
the summit of Great ^Yatatic to the province line. 

This liberal proposition included a majority of the inhabi- 
tants and about one-fourth of the area of the township. 
Immediately following the record of the meeting is recorded 
a protest against the measure, signed by Samuel Fellows, 
Tristram Cheney, Samuel Nichols, Jonathan Gates, George 
Dickerson, Xathan Melvin, Elisha Coolidge, William 
Joyner, Samuel Foster and Enos Jones. No reason is 
found for the absence of the names of Benjamin Whitcomb, 
Moses Foster, Jeremiah Foster, Deliverance Davis and 
others who were then living west of the proposed line and 
who very naturally would be in sympathy with the remon- 
strants. This proposition, however, was very materially 
modified by the General Court. When Ashby was finally 
incorporated only about one-fourth of the proposed area was 
severed from Ashl)urnham. jNIany years later another tract 
was joined to Ashby, but the original division line between 
the towns in 1767 left the eastern boundary of Ashburnham 
almost a straight line, extending very nearly due north from 
the northeast corner of Westminster to the State line. The 
corner of the two towns at the State line was very nearly a 


mile east of the present corner. In this form the town of 
Ashburnham remained until after the Revolution, when a 
second donation to Ashby and the incorporation of Gardner 
cut off two areas from the opposite corners of the town. 

Among the settlers included within the town of Ashby 
were several town officers who were chosen only three days 
before that town was incorporated. Captain John Jones, 
residing on the Amos Wellington farm then in Ashburnham, 
was a selectman here in 17(36 and again elected in 1767. 
The same year he was chosen a selectman of Ashby. 

James Coleman had been elected one of the constables, 
an office then including the collection of taxes. Notwith- 
standing the change in town lines, the assessors of Ashburn- 
ham committed to him a tax list for collection and in 
November of the following year " y^ town voted to Defend 
y^ Town Treasurer in a Trial with James Colman for to get 
y^ money that was assest in y^ year 1767 which assessment 
was Delivered to s'^ Colman to Colect." It is probable that 
both towns claimed the taxes assessed this year on the 
estates set off to Ashby and that Mr. Coleman found it diffi- 
cult to serve two masters. By this change in town lines, 
in addition to John Jones and James Coleman, Ashburnham 
lost Thomas Stearns, Zimri Hey wood, John Bates, David 
Taylor, Henry Selham, Benjamin Spaulding, Samuel Derby, 
Samuel Rice, Levi Houghton and perhaps a few others. 
Several of these became prominent in the affairs of Ashby. 
The only German was Mr. Selham whose name is generally 
written Sellenham in the Ashby records. 

Unless there were two persons of the same name, Ben- 
jamin Spaulding returned to Ashburnham in 1768 and in 
1769 as will appear joined in a petition to be set off to 
Ashby a second time. Had he succeeded and continued the 
process he would have whittled away the entire township. 


1766. The new names appearing in the proceedings of 
this year are Henry Hall, John Conn, Zimri Hey wood, 
Moses Foster, Jr., Samuel Salter, Simon Rodamell, Henry 
Selham and Joseph Perry. Some of these had been here 
several years but were not named in the records of the pre- 
ceding year. In addition to the land and province tax, the 
town raised twenty pounds for town charges and appropriated 
sixty pounds of the land tax for the support of roads. This 
year the town also voted not " to choose a man to Represent 
them at the great and general Coart or assembly to be held 
at Boston on Wensday the twenty eight Day of may Current 
at Mne of the Clock in the morning." But more mindful of 
internal improvement, the town voted to build a pound of 
stone or timber, two rods square inside, to be located near 
the barn of Christian William Whiteman, but this vote was 
reconsidered soon after and a pound was not built for several 
years. The records assert that this year "the town chose 
Mr. Timothy pane Esquier regeister for the County of 
Worcester." Mr. Paine was elected this year, leaving us to 
infer that either the remainder of the county magnanimously 
concurred in this action on the part of Ashburnham, or that 
the record is a simple assertion that Mr. Paine was the choice 
of the voters of this town. The custom of warning out all 
new arrivals is mentioned in another connection ; the names 
of the men summoned to remove during the first two years 
of the existence of the town, were Samuel Salter, Joseph 
Perry, Oliver Wetherbee, Daniel Merrill, Daniel Harper, 
Timothy Farley, Amasa Turner and George Hewitt. 

1767. Early in the year 1767, a special meeting was 
called to make some arrangements concerning the salary of 
the minister. When the town assumed control of public 
affairs, Mr. Winchester had been settled several years. It 
only devolved upon the town to pay him the amount of 


salary stipulated by the proprietors at the time of his settle- 
ment. By the terms of the act of incorporation this sum 
was to be paid out of the land tax. It only remained for the 
town to conduct the assessment and collection of this tax. 
The result of this meeting indicates that the only issue raised 
at this time related to the time when the salary of the minis- 
ter should be paid. A committee was chosen " to discourse 
with Eev. Mr. Winchester relating to his salary," At a 
subsequent meeting the town acted upon the report of their 
committee by a vote " to pay Mr. Winchester one half of his 
salary at eight months' end." 

The records of this year introduce the earliest reference to 
schools in a vote to raise eight pounds for that purpose, and 
voted that "y* y® school should be a moveing school and 
to leave it y*^ Select men to make y^ Quarters where y^ 
school shall be Cept. Voted it to bee a free school." 

The increasing burden of taxation and the inability of 
many of the settlers to meet these increasing demands upon 
their limited resources find frequent expression in the 
records. In June the town chose John Mofiat of Boston, 
Rev. Jonathan Winchester and Tristram Cheney, to apply 
to the General Court for an abatement of the province tax. 
In connection with this effort the following petition was 
made to the General Court : 

To His Excellency Frnncis Bernard Esq. Captain General 
and Governor in Chief of His Majesty's Provence of the Massa- 
chusetts Bay, to the Honnorable his majestys Council & the Hon^^^ 
House of Representatives, In General Court assembled. 

December 30 1767 

The Petition of the Inhabitants of Ashburnham humbly Sheweth : 

That whereas a Provence Tax for a number of years Past has 
been Laid on 3'our Petitioners no Part thereof has been paid, that 
your Petitioners Labouring under great povert}^ think them selves 


utterly unable To make an}' such pa5'ment, that the soil we Possess 
is veiy Stubborn Requiring much hard Labour before any profit 
can be reaped from it. That the greatest part of 3'our petitioners 
have been in said Town but a short time and are unable to raise 
provisions sufficient for the support of our families. And as there 
is far from being enough produced in the Town to maintain the 
Inhabitants we have not onh' nothing to Convert into money ; but 
are at much annual expense for the necessays of Life or be desti- 
tute of them ; or else contract debts unpaj'able without the for- 
feiture of our Lands. 

That y^ growth of y"" said Town has been much obstructed b}' 
y*" said tax as man}- persons have of Late gone over y^ Provence 
Line to avoid a burden which seams so likel}' to be un supportable 
and fatal. That 3'our Poor petitioners are unable to keep our few 
cattle alive in y^ winter season without driving a considerable 
proportion of them out of town for subsistence. That your 
Petitioners House of Public Worship has lately been struck by a 
Hurricane and y*= cost to repare Cannot be less than £30. Lawful 
mone}'. With all that can be done to said House it must be Re- 
built in a few years. That the Death of our very worthy Pastor 
y^ Reverend M'" Winchester your Petitioners must needs be exerted 
to a very great additional expence. 

Therefore your Humble Petitioners verj' earnestl}' beseech 3'our 
Excellency & Honers to considerate our unhapy circumstances 
by Removing ye grievous Tax or to Releive us in such way as in 
3'our great wisdom you shall Think fitt. And 3'our Petitioners as 
in duty bound shall ever pray &c. 

TRISTRAM CHENEY in behalf of sd Town. 

Dated at Ashburnham, December y^ 23^ 1767. 

The petition was kindly received by the General Court 
and all the province taxes then due from this town were 
forgiven. Qualifying the petition w^itli the reflection that it 
is an argument for efiect, it is true, however, that it presents 
a view of the poverty and distress of a new^ settlement and 


from it we learn much of the situation of the town at this 

November 30, 1767, the inhabitants were warned to 
assemble on the tenth of the following month " to see if the 
town will comply with the town of Boston in not purchasing 
any of the articles mentioned in the paper sent to the select- 
men." The paper referred to was the historic letter of the 
selectmen of Boston, dated October 28, and sent to the 
selectmen of the several towns in the province, respecting 
the sale and use of certain foreign articles upon which Par- 
liament had laid a tax. At the meeting in Ashl)urnhani it 
was voted " to comply with the request of the selectmen of 
Boston respecting the articles in a paper they sent to us." 
Here is found the first and a very early act relating to the 
Revolution. It was one of a series of events which foretold 
the approaching storm, truthfully reflecting the progress of 
public sentiment while the smouldering fires of discontent 
were being fanned into the flame of open revolt. Other 
towns actuated by an equal patriotism passed similar votes, 
but very few of them at this early date were prepared to 
speak with equal emphasis and promptness. 

The death of the first minister occurred this year. A meet- 
ing was promptly called at which the town voted to defray 
the expenses of the funeral and to pay to Mrs. Winchester, a 
sum equal to the stated salary for the remainder of the year. 
No item of the expense of the burial of Mr. Winchester has 
been preserved, but in accordance with the customs of the 
times, it is probable that gloves, weeds and other insignia of 
mourning, were procured for the bereaved family and for the 
bearers. All were mourners and all followed the remains of 
their beloved pastor to the grave. The measure of their 
sorrow at the death and their respect for the character of 
Mr. Winchester were continually reflected in the kind con- 


sideration in which they always regarded the widow and the 
children of their first minister. 

1768. This year, Kev. John Gushing was settled. An 
account of the ordination and of a prolonged and successful 
ministry will be found in another chapter. Other proceed^ 
ings of less magnitude complete the record of the year. In 
the warrant for the annual March meeting appears an article 
" To see if y*^ town will vote y* there shall be no ox sled 
Drawed in y^ Privet Roads in Ashburnham less than four 
feet and a half wide on Penalty such as y^ town shall think 
Proper." "Passed in y*^ negative." The highways in this 
connection were styled private roads to distinguish them 
from the county roads which had been constructed, and ui 
some measure were under the supervision of the court. 

It was also ordered this year that "y^ Dutch should draw 
their school money " upon condition it was used for its 
legitimate purpose. 

The increasing discontent of the colony in regard to the 
continued acts of oppression by the British government, and 
the promptness in which each infringement of their charter 
rights was resisted by the watchful spirit of democracy^ 
again invite the citizens of Ashburnham to assemble in town 
meeting. Immediately following an unsuccessful attempt to 
persuade the Royal GoA^ernor of the province to convene the 
General Court, letters were sent to all the towns inviting 
them to send delegates to join in a conference over public 
affairs. The citizens of this town unanimously instructed 
their selectmen to send in writing their desire to join with 
the asseml)led delegates " in all proper way to defend our 
rights and privileges which was granted to us in our 

1769. It Avill be remembered that while the inhabitants 
were thus assembling in town meeting from year to year and 


adopting measures concerning the prudential affairs of the 
town, the proprietors were still an active organization. 
Under the laws of the province, the town assumed the 
control of the roads, the support of the ministry and the 
general management of all municipal concerns, while the 
propriety, owning the undivided lands, was still an organized 
corporation. The proprietors surrendered the meeting- 
house to the town without any formal vote, and in 1770 at a 
meeting convened in Boston, there was a proposition under 
consideration to surrender to the town " the meeting house 
square with the reservation that the whole of it remains a 
common forever." This subject was dismissed without 
action and it is possible the proprietors considered that the 
common already belonged to the town under the title of 
public domain. If any consideration less friendly prompted 
the ftiilure to relinquish their claim to the common, the 
inhabitants of the town had very little concern about it, and 
were masters of the situation. They had already disposed 
of one-fourth of it and were holding the remainder with grim 
complacency. Under an article to see if the town would 
sell a part of the common to Rev. John Gushing, the town 
in May, 1769, voted to make him a present of two and one- 
half acres at the east end and instructed the selectmen to 
give him a deed. 

Benjamin Spaulding, and a few others residing in the 
northeast part of the town, petitioned the. General Gourt to 
be annexed to Ashby. The town promptly expressed its 
dissent and submitted the matter to Samuel Wilder who 
successfully opposed the measure. 

The questions arising in town meeting and the methods of 
treatment, are continuallv susforestino^ the chancres which have 
attended the progress of years. One hundred and twenty- 
five years ago, as a source of revenue, the town voted that 


" every inhabitant that takes cattle to run in the woods shall 
pay to the town four shillings per head." The same year, 
not having paid their minister the sum due for settlement, 
the town borrowed the money of Colonel Caleb Wilder and 
agreed to pay it in clearing land for him. For several years 
the town accepted labor on this account in payment of taxes. 

1770. The annals of this year introduce very few subjects 
not anticipated in a general view of a town in the transaction 
of the ordinary business. The year preceding the town 
voted not to choose a committee " to see where the town's 
money had gone." They probably concluded it had never 
been gathered in, since this year a number of parcels of land 
belonging to non-residents were sold at auction in payment 
of taxes. From this source the town realized nearly fifty 
pounds. One of the purchasers at this sale was Rev. Mr. 
Cushing, who bought six and one-half acres between the 
common and Upper Naukeag lake. This year the court had 
under consideration the location of a county road from 
Winchendon to Westminster, passing through a corner of 
this town, now in Gardner. The town of Ashburnham 
instructed Samuel Wilder to oppose the project and "if 
need be, to employ an attorney." This road was built soon 
after, but the part of it within this town was inconsiderable. 

In accordance with an act of the General Court, an inven- 
tory of the province tax for the year 1770 was returned by 
the assessors. Fortunately, the original is preserved in the 
State archives. This rate assessed on the polls had no con- 
nection with the land tax. The list preserves the names of 
the men residing in this town December 14, 1770. The 
names followed by the figures 2 or 3 paid the tax of as 
many persons, who might be either sons above sixteen 
years of age, or young men in their employ. Ebenezer 
Conant, Sen., was probably residing here at this time ; later 



in life he was a town cliarge, l3ut no reason appears for the 
omission of his name. It was probably accidental. The 
omission of the name of Eev. John Gushing was probably 
intentional. The number of names in the list is seventy- 
four, which would indicate a population of less than four 

John Adams 
Stephen Ames 
William Benjamin 
Moses Bennett 
John Bigelow 
Nathan Bigelow 
Joshua Billings 
Abraham Blodgett 
Isaac Blodgett 
Jeremiah Bridge 
Peter Brooks 
Tristram Cheney (3) 
David Clark 
Job Coleman 
Ebenezer Conant, Jr. 
John Conn 
Elisha Coolidge 
Deliverance Davis 
Amos Dickerson 
David Dickerson 
Salmon Dutton 
Thomas Dutton 
Elijah Edson 
Samuel Fellows (3) 
Jeremiah Foster 

Moses Foster (2) 
Samuel Foster 
Henry Gates j 
Jonathan Gates (2) 
Henry Hall (2) 
Jacob Harris 
Ebenezer Hemenway 
Joseph Holden 
Moses Johnson 
Enos Jones 
Abijah Joslin 
James Joslin 
Peter Joslin 
John Kiblinger (2) 
Benjamin Kemp 
Nathan Melvin 
Daniel Merrill 
Joseph Metcalf 
Samuel Nichols 
Simeon Nutting 
John Oberlock 
Joseph Perry 
Daniel Priest 
John Rich 
Simon Rodamell 

Samuel Salter 
Aaron Samson 
John Samson 
Jonathan Samson 
Jacob Schoffe 
Benjamin Spaulding 
Ephraim Stone (3) 
Oliver Stone 
Jonathan Taylor 
Philip Vorback 
Caleb Ward 
Jacob Wenneg 
Oliver Wetherbee 
Phmehas Wetherbee 
Benjamin Whitcomb 
Oliver Whitcomb 
Christian Wm. White- 
Samuel Wilder (2) 
Hezekiah Willard 
John Willard 
Oliver Willard 
Andrew Winter 
Timothy Wood 
Abijah Worcester 

1771. In addition to specific legislation regarding schools 
and the meeting-house, which will appear in other chapters, 
this year the town sold the right of land reserved for the 
benefit of schools. 

From the incorporation of the town to this date there had 
been little change in the price of labor and many articles of 
merchandise. The depreciation of the currency a few years 
later introduced fictitious values in all business transactions. 
The town at this time continued to allow the selectmen and 
other town officers two shillings and eight pence per day. 
The rate of labor upon the highways for several years is 


recorded in stated form : " three shilling per day from now 
to the last of September, one shilling and four pence for 
oxen and eight pence for a cart and after September two 
shillings per day." From an account of sales made in an 
adjoining town at this date it appears that upland hay sold 
at £1-5-0 per ton, rye at four shillings per bushel and 
butter from six to eight pence per pound. 

1772. "Voted to buy some grave stones in memory of 
Eev^^ Mr Jonathan Winchester and that M' William Whit- 
comb be the man to get the above stones." This act com- 
memorating, at once, the virtues of the dead and the serious 
impulses of the town resulted in the erection of the plain 
slate stone which jet marks the grave of the first minister. 
Future generations may erect at this grave a monument of 
far greater pretension, but none can ever express a more 
fitting devotion to the memor}'' of him whose virtues are 
inscribed upon this ancient stone in language of sincere 
respect and love. 

1773. Having built a pound the preceding year the town 
chose Benjamin Bigelow and Jacob Willard to conduct the 
business at that station. Field drivers, or hog reeves as 
they were formerly called, have been chosen every year 
since the incorporation of the town. This year, with a new 
adjunct to the pffice, the selection was made with due 
deference to ability and regard to place of residence. The 
location of the first pound is not certain. The pound at the 
southwest corner of the common was not built until 1794, 
but time and the elements appear to have been unusually 
active in hastening its destruction. 

The manner in which our fathers regarded the obligation of 
contracts and the attention they paid to their proper fulfil- 
ment are reflected in a vote to " advance thirty pounds to the 
Rev*^ M^ Cushing's Sallary to be assessed this year to make 


up the Damage in his not giting his Sallaiy according to 

1774. In prophecy of the political revolution near at 
hand and reflecting the sentiment of the people a town 
meeting is called for the first time without invoking the 
name of the king. In former years the people had been 
warned to assemble "in his Majesty's name." A meeting 
was called in September, 1774, in the simple terms, "You 
are requested to meet." Later the people were warned "in 
the name of the government and the people of the state of 
Massachusetts Bay," until the new constitution of the State 
introduced "the commonwealth of Massachusetts." These 
terms clearly indicate the progress of public sentiment during 
radical changes in the forms of government. 

The incorporation of Gardner was almost consummated 
this year. The project was suffered to sleep during the 
Revolution but it scarcely failed at this time. The petition 
was signed by residents of Westminster, Templeton, Win- 
chendon and Ashburnham who desired to be included in the 
proposed town. In answer to the petitioners, the town 
voted May 23, 1774, that the portion of Ashburnham south- 
west of a line extending' from Samuel Kelton's lot to the lot 
of William Ames " be set off' with portions of other towns 
to form a new town or district." The line described in this 
vote is substantially the same as the one established eleven 
years later. The Revolution caused a delay and introduced 
a name for the town, but the boundaries first proposed were 
not materially changed when the town eventually was 

Commencing with the date of incorporation and extend- 
ing a few years beyond the limits of this chapter, the town 
continued the custom of warning out a majority of the arri- 
vals in town. It was a precautionary proceeding suggested 


and encouraged by the laws of the province. The statute 
provided that persons, who were legally warned out of the 
town, could not gain at once a full legal residence and that 
in case of extreme povei-ty the town would not be charge- 
able for their support. It was a cold reception but modified 
with a fair understanding that it was a formality of law in 
which there was often no sincerity. If it savors of inhu- 
manity it was a fault of the law and not of the people. Its 
practice in other towns led to its adoption here in self- 
defence. In this connection it should be remembered, that 
while the sentiment of charity and brotherly love has ever 
existed in the heart of man, the present system of public 
charities which embraces all classes of unfortunate men and 
women of the Commonwealth is the result of more recent 
legislation. If the early settlers of this town were warned 
out, they were at once admitted to all social privileges. In 
some instance men who were warned out were elected to 
office at the following town meeting and became useful, 
substantial citizens contributing largely to the intelligence 
and wealth of a town to which they were so formally 
received. Not a few of those who served in the Revolution 
were welcomed in this manner to Ashburnham. In their 
turn they joined, in a more serious manner, in warning out 
an army of invasion before it gained a residence on Ameri- 
can soil. A few extracts from the records will give a fair 
idea of the spirit of .these proceedings. 

To Jonathan Gates, constable of the Town of Ashburnham, 

Greeting : 

Whereas Joseph Perry and Mary Perry his wife, Joseph Perry, 

Juner, and Mary Perry and Abigail Perry and Annie Perry, 

children of Joseph and Mary Perry, Hath lately Come to the 

Town of Ashburnham and came last from Midway and Came to 



the Town of Ashburnham November 1765, whom the Selectmen of 
Ashburnham Refuse to admit as Inhabitants of the said Town. 

THESE are therefore in his majesties name to Require 3'ou,. 
the said Constable to warn the persons a Bove mentioned forth- 
with to Depart out of the town of Ashburnham. 

Hereof fail not and make Due return of this warrant with your 
Doings therein to some one of us the subscribers. 

Given under our hands and seal at Ashburnham This Twelftb 
da}' of February A D 1766 in the Sixth year of his Majesties Rain. 


SAMUEL FELLOWS ) Ashburnham. 

Worcester ss. Ashburnham, February 24 1766 

In obedience and by virtue of the within written warrant I have 
warned the within named Joseph Perry and Mary Perry his wife 
Joseph Perry Juner Mary Perry Abigail Perry Annie Perry 
children of Joseph and Mary Perry, forthwith to Depart out of the 
town of Ashburnham. 


Constable of said Town. 

In some instances the selectmen made a memorandum 
of the arrival of a family into town and in such cases no 
warrant is found. 

Olive Davis and Mercy Davis Daughters of Jonas Davis of 
Harvard Deceased and Elizabeth his wife came into this town 
October y^ 14, 1767, and came last from Harvard. 

Elijah Edson left Bridgewater June 17 1769 and brought with 
him Martha Edson his wife and three children Sarah Edson^ 
Oliver Edson and Ziba Edson, whom the selectmen refuse to 
admit as Inhabitants of Ashburnham. 












The story of Ashburnham in the Eevolution compre- 
hends neither the movements of armies nor the decisive 
results of sanguinary engagements. The causes of the war, 
the prevailing sentiment of the colonies and the campaigns 
and fortunes of the army are subjects of general history. 
It falls within the province of this chapter to record the 
names of the men of Ashburnham who were in the service 
and to present some account of the hardships endured at 
home. It will appear that the inhabitants of this town were 
in full sympathy with the patriotic sentiment of the colonies, 



and in the field and at the fireside cheerfully bore a full 
measure of the hardships and burdens of the period. Com- 
pared with the older settlements the frontier towns were 
young and feeble ; and, if remote from the earlier discussion 
of public grievances and from the theatre of war, it is cer- 
tain they felt every pulsation of the heart of the colonies 
and responded to every demand. 

The population of Ashburnham in 1776 was five hundred 
and fifty-one. Upon this little community, situated upon 
the border of the province, the provisional government and 
the patriotic impulse of the people, during the progress of 
the war, made heavy drafts for men and treasure. Inured 
to the privations and hardships of the frontier, the settle- 
ments bravely assumed burdens which would have been 
refused by people less familiar to lives of self-denial and 
hardships. During the Revolution the strength of the colo- 
nies rested in familiarity with poverty and toil. Patriotic 
impulse and a firm reliance in the righteousness of their 
cause were important factors, but it required hardihood as 
well as impulse and endurance as well as principle. A sol- 
diery more tenderly nurtured and less inured to privation 
might bravely meet the enemy in the field but would have 
failed in the sufi*erings of Valley Forge. 

Commencing with the beginning of open hostilities the 
older towns, situated near the theatre of the war, sent an 
increasing stream of immigration to the frontiers where a 
more comfortable feeling of security could be enjoyed. 
During the war all the towns in this vicinity increased 
rapidly in population. From 1776 to 1780 the population 
of Ashburnham was increased nearly twofold. The names 
of many families which are conspicuous in the annals of 
Ashburnham first appear at this time. All who removed 
hither were fraternally welcomed and the older resident and 


the new arrival, actuated by a common purpose, are found 
side by side in the army or joined in procuring money and 
means to carry on the war. 

It will appear in the course of this narrative that nearly 
every man residing in this town and nearly every boy over 
sixteen years of age were in the service for a longer or a 
shorter period. The records of Ashburnham do not pre- 
serve the names of any revolutionary soldiers. The search 
for the material for this chapter was made elsewhere. The 
State archives and the files of the Pension Office at Wash- 
ington have been fruitful fields of research. It is believed 
that the following pages will contain the names of nearly all 
the residents of this town who served in the army during the 
Revolutionary War. No name has been admitted without 
unquestionable proof. Tradition and the records are fre- 
quently at variance, and in such cases the authority of the 
records has been accepted. 

The winter preceding the repulse of the enemy at Lex- 
ington and Concord was a season of gloom and uncertainty. 
The colonists, and especially those of Massachusetts, were 
anxiously waiting for the clouds to break or, if inevitable, 
for hostilities to commence. This era of doubt and uncer- 
tainty cast the deepest gloom over the land. The inhabi- 
tants of Ashburnham are early found in full sympathy with 
the prevailing sentiment and with remarkable unanimity are 
early prepared for the decisive issue. As early as 1773 
mention of the situation of public afiairs finds expression in 
an article in the warrant for the annual March meeting, " To 
see if the Town will consider the general grievances that 
are laid upon us by acts of Parliament & disposing of our 
monies without our consent." At this time no action was 
taken, but in July, 1774, "it was moved that the Covenant 
sent from Boston be read and accordingly it was read. 


Then a motion was made for an alteration and that Doctor 
Senter, George Dana, Elisha Coolidge, Samuel Nichols and 
Jonathan Samson be a committee to alter said covenant and 
adjourned said meeting for half an hour and then said Cove- 
nant was altered to the acceptance of the Town." "Voted 
that Elisha Coolidge Samuel Wilder and Samuel Nichols be 
a committee to keep the covenant after it is signed." 

The covenant adopted in the foregoing vote was a solemn 
engagement, signed by the inhabitants of the town, that they 
would refrain from the purchase and use of certain articles 
of British merchandise, and that risking their lives and 
fortunes in the defence of their charter rights and privileges, 
they would resist all officers holding commissions under the 
late acts of Parliament. On the third day of September, the 
town was assembled to hear the report of Jonathan Taylor 
who had been chosen to attend a convention at Worcester, 
which met in August at the house of Mary Stearns, widow 
of Captain Thomas Stearns. The records do not afford any 
information of the character of the report, yet from other 
sources it is known that this convention recommended the 
several towns to appoint military officers, to provide arms 
and ammunition, and to make ample provision for any emer- 
gency that may arise. At the same meeting the progress of 
public sentiment is revealed in a vote to indemnify the officers 
of the town for not returning a list of jurors as required by 
an act of Parliament. This was a bold measure and in open 
resistance of royal authority. The colonists were extremely 
sensitive in reo:ard to the influences surrounding: the halls of 
justice. The man of lowest degree justly demanded a hear- 
ing on equal terms with the favorites of royalty. The exist- 
ing discontent arose in the fact that the judges were appointed 
by the crown and provision was made in England for their 
support for the purpose of rendering them wholly independent 


•of colonial influence. Tliis system of appointment and salary 
of the judges received early discussion and firm resistance. 
The vote of Ashburnham refusins; to recos^nize the courts 
thus constituted in returning a list of jurors, was a part of 
the general action of the colon}^ 

Two other important votes were passed at this meeting. 
First, the town choose Jonathan Taylor, a representative to 
the famous provincial congress which assembled at Concord, 
October 11, and by adjournment to Cambridge continued 
their deliberations until December 10, 1774. Evidently, not 
yet content with these expressions of opinion, and with these 
provisions for the future, at the same meeting, nearly a year 
before Washington assumed command of the army, the town 
voted " to buy half a hundred of powder and one hundred of 
lead and ten dozen of flints as a town stock." At this meet- 
ing, as stated, the town heard from their delegate the recom- 
mendations of the Worcester convention, and ten days later 
were again assembled to carry them into eflfect. The action 
of this meeting was brief yet decisive. A committee of 
safety and correspondence was chosen and the militia was 
organized. The record of the meeting preserves the roll of 

Chose Samuel Nichols, Jonathan Samson, Deliverance Davis, 
Abijah Joslin and Jonathan Taylor a committee of correspond- 

Voted that the following persons be the officers of the militia of 
said town : — 

Abijah Joslin, captain. 
Deliverance Davis, lieutenant. 
Ebenezer Conant, Jr., ensign. 
Amos Dickerson, first sergeant. 
Jacob Harris, second sergeant. 
Oliver Stone, third sergeant. 


Enos Jones, fourth sergeant. 
Phinehas Wetherbee, first corporal. 
Salmon Button, second corporal. 
George Dana, third corporal. 
Ezra Atherton, fourth corporal. 
John Conn, clerk. 

This meeting completes the official action of the town for 
the year and introduces the names of men who will be fre- 
quently and honorably mentioned in the following pages. 
Early in 1775, we find two companies of organized militia, 
of which Captains Jonathan Gates and Deliverance Davis 
were commanders, but no record is found of their election 
or of the resignation of Captain Joslin. 

1775. At the annual March meeting this year, five select- 
men, consisting of John Kiblinger, Samuel Nichols, Captain 
Jonathan Gates, Oliver Stone and Amos Kendall, were 
chosen. Through the extended record of proceedings con- 
cerning the ordinary town affiiirs, the gleam of the Eevolu- 
tion is revealed in a vote that Captain Jonathan Gates be 
instructed to procure thirty-six cartridge boxes for the use 
of the minute-men at the expense of the town. A former 
town meeting had been convened early in the month at 
which town officers were chosen and the usual routine busi- 
ness was transacted. At the second meeting all the proceed- 
ings of the first meeting were declared null and void and new 
officers were chosen who continued in office through the year. 
The first meeting chose Samuel Wilder town clerk, but at 
the second meetins^ Jacob Willard was chosen to transcribe 
the public records. There is tradition that for a short time 
in the earl}^ stages of the Revolution, Rev. John Cushing, 
Samuel Wilder, Deacon John Willard, and possibly one or 
two others, were regarded with some measure of suspicion 
by the more ardent patriots. It is certain that about this 


time a company of men, mainly from other towns, waited 
upon these gentlemen for an expression of their views on 
public affairs. Whatever may have been the character or 
influence of this interview, there was no further question in 
regard to the political opinions of these men. Mr. Wilder 
was elected town clerk the following year, an office he held 
with no other interruption from 1769 to 1792, and all of 
these men gave a cheerful support to every measure for the 
prosecution of the war. The population of the town was 
increased during the year 1775 by the arrival of the follow- 
ing men, most of whom had families : John Putnam, 
Nathaniel Adams, Peter Willard, Captain Joseph Wilder, 
Simeon Nutting, Timothy, David and Levi Chaplin, Asa 
Brocklebank and Jacob Wilker, the first of the name in 

While this town voted throughout the year not to send a 
representative to the provincial congress, it is apparent that 
there was no want of interest in the progress of public afiairs 
outside of the township, since a committee of inspection was 
promptly chosen " to see that the resolves of the Continental 
Congress respecting trade be strictly adhered to." To this 
duty William Whitcomb, Jonathan Taylor, Jonathan Sam- 
son, George Dana and Samuel Cutting were assigned. 
Similar to the action of other towns in this vicinity, Ashburn- 
ham adopted early measures to secure and distribute among 
the families of the town a supply of salt before the channels 
of trade were closed and many commodities beyond their 
grasp. A few votes on this subject are transcribed from the 
records : 

Voted to Purchis 300 Bushels of salt for a town stock and 
chose Messrs. Jonathan Taylor, Amos Kindall and Samuel Foster 
to bee a committee to percure the same. Allso said committee is 
to give security in behalf of said town for said salt. Said town 


to alow Mr. Amos Kindall, 18 shillings for going clown to percure 
said salt. 

Voted that the committee apply to the town Treasurer for money 
to Bair the charges of teems. 

At a subsequent meeting : 

Voted that the committee Im ployed to git the Salt take the 
same under their Cair and sell to each man as they think his 
portion is for the space of six months from the first of July 1775, 
and no longer. N. B. After the time heir prefixed said com- 
mittee may sell the salt to any person or persons in town or out. 

Having given some account of the proceedings at home, 
the principal events in the history of Ashburnham for the 
year 1775 remain as yet untold. The town, if remote from 
the early scenes of hostilities, bore an honorable part in the 
alarm at Lexington, the battle of Bunker Hill and the sub- 
sequent siege of Boston. 

Thus far we have discovered some of the steps which 
mark the progress of public opinion. The evidence of a 
firmer faith and a more resolute purpose, leading to the 
sterner scenes of the Revolutionary struggle is at ready 
•command. And yet the alacrity with which the inhabitants 
of Ashburnham responded to the alarm of war at the first 
call of their country was the simple and natural outgrowth 
of the resolute preparation which had been made during the 
past two years. 

The spring of 1775 was unusually forward; the warm, 
sunny days of mid April had invited the husbandman to the 
labors of the field. But in the midst of a peaceful avocation, 
and attending this external appearance of security and com- 
posure, there was a strong undercurrent of suspense and 
anxiety. Neither the vernal sun nor the balmy air of spring 
<;ould dissolve the portentous clouds which overhung the 


political horizon. And now at a season of the year most 
suggestive of tranquillity and gladness, all remaining doubt 
was suddenly removed and all anticipations of an honorable 
peace were dispelled. The harsh notes of war and carnage 
resounded over the dying hope of a peaceful settlement of 
the public grievances. With unfinished furrows and fields 
half sown, the patriot farmer reversing the prophecy lay down 
the pruning-hooks for spears and quickly beat the plough- 
shares into swords. The ominous intelligence that the 
British were marching from Boston towards Lexington 
swiftly borne on the wings of alarm was proclaimed in Ash- 
burnham in the afternoon of that historic day. To the 
signal o:uns came answerino; echoes from the surrounding 
hills, and before the reverberations quivering with alarm had 
faded in the distance, there came responsive shots from many 
homes. The town was quickly aroused. The patriots, arms 
in hand, were hurrying forward from every quarter of the 

No intelligence of hostilities at this hour had been received. 
It was only known that the enemy were marching inward. 
The story of the slaughter of their brethren at Lexington and 
at Concord was then unknown, nor was it needed to call 
these men to arms. Under command of Captain Jonathan 
Gates, a company of thirty -eight men promptly responded 
to the call and marched that afternoon. Nor was this all. 
Throuojh the followins: nio-ht the men from the remoter 
portions of the town responded to the alarm, and busy notes 
of preparation were constantly renewed. A second company 
of thirty-three men, under command of Captain Deliverance 
Davis, was organized. Early in the gray of the following 
morning they were on the march. The rolls preserve the 
names of those men, seventy-one in number, who responded 
thus to the alarm. Leaving homes and family with hasty 


farewells, they hastened to the relief of then- brethren, and 
some of them to the familiar scenes of their childhood and 
to the defence of the homes of their kindred. 

The rapidity with which the alarm was spread over the 
country on the nineteenth of April, has excited surprise. 
It was not accidental, nor one of those hazard enterprises 
that sometimes apparently happen in a fortuitous manner. 
For weeks the committees of safety and correspondence had 
been preparing for just such an emergency ; in many 
instances it had been arranged who should ride, and to whom 
deliver the message. At twilight many a vigilant patriot 
had carefully stabled and fed his fleetest horse, half in 
expectation that a summons to ride might come before the 
rising of another sun. 

The public records of the town afford no information of 
the number or the names of these men who promptly 
responded to the alarm. If tradition was the only remain- 
ing source of information, the lists would remain uncertain 
and incomplete. The traditional statement that this town 
sent out one company which, on the receipt of intelligence 
that the affray was ended, returned home the same or the 
following day, has been quite generally accepted. Ashburn- 
ham soldiers in the Revolution did not acquit themselves in 
that manner. For once tradition shot beneath the mark, but 
has made ample amends in other fields of information. For- 
tunately, the muster rolls of these two companies are 
preserved in the State archives. If additional evidence is 
required it is not withheld. Ainong the papers of the late 
Deacon John C. Davis, a grandson of one of the com- 
manders, is preserved a list of the men under the command 
of Captain Deliverance Davis. This list and the roll at the 
State House without exception are the same, and the per- 
sonal statements of a few of the men will appear in another 


connection. Both of the companies marched to Cambridge 
and there remained with the gathering army several days. 

As previously stated, Captain Gates' company left Ash- 
burnham on the afternoon of the alarm. Upon the muster 
roll, under the head of " Time when marched," there appears 
opposite every name "April 19." This company continued 
an oro;anization until Mav 1, when it was disbanded. A few 
had previously returned home ; a few came home when the 
company was disbanded and sixteen of them enlisted in 
Colonel Whitcomb's regiment and remained in the service 
until the close of the year. Captain Davis' company is 
credited with marching April 20. It was disbanded at 
Cambridge, April 30. Three from this company remained 
in the service. With the exception of three in Captain 
Davis' company and a few in Captain Gates' company, these 
men are credited with fifty-five miles' travel. 

<7ap* Jonathan Gates' Muster Roll in Col John Whitcomh's Regi- 
ment of Militia Men who marched from Ashburnham on y^ 
Alarm April 19^^' 1775. 

Jonathan Gates, Captain 

Amos Dickerson, Lieutenant 

Ezra Atherton, Lieutenant 
George Dana, Sergeant Henry Gates 

WiUiam Wilder, do Samuel Joslin 

Joseph Metcalf, do Jonathan Warren Smith 

Ebenezer Burgess, do David Robinson 

Daniel Hobart, Corp'^ Jacob KibUnger 

Peter Joslin, do Henry Hall 

Francis Lane, do Amos Kindall 

Joseph Stone, Drummer Henry Winchester 

Amos Lawrence Samuel Willard 

Phinehas Weatherbee Philip Lock 

Moses Russell Aaron Samson 

Nathaniel Parker Samuel Salter 


John Gates John Whitney 

Jonathan Winchester Joshua Holt 

Daniel Edson ^ Ebenezer Wood 

Joseph Wilder Philip Winter 

Nathaniel Harris David Clark, Jr. 

Peter Osgood 

Gapt, Deliverance Davis' Master Roll in Col Asa Whitcomb's 
Regiment of Militia men who marched from Ashburnham on 
2/« Alarm April 19^^^ 1775. 

Deliverance Davis, Captain 
Ebenezer Conant, Jr., Lieutenant 
John Conn, 2^^ Lieutenant 

Oliver Stone, Sergeant Nathan Melvin 

John Adams, do Nathaniel Hastings 

Samuel Cutting:, do Samuel Mason 


Shubuel Hobart, Corp'^ Ephraim Wetherbee 

Timothy Wood, do David Clark 

Oliver Whitcomb, do Isaac Blodgett 

Elijah Edson, Drummer Joshua Hemenway 

Isaac Merriam John Hall 

Oliver Willard John Kiblinger 

Uriah Holt John Putnam 

William Whitcomb Jacob Willard 

William Benjamin Joshua Holden 

Jacob Constantine Jonathan Taylor 

Caleb Ward Jonathan Taylor, Jr. 

Enos Jones Joseph Perry 

Immediately following the affair at Lexington the Massa- 
chusetts committee of safety called out the militia. In an 
address to the several towns dated April 20, the committee 
urged them "to hasten and encourage by all possible 
means the enlistment of men for an army." "Our all," 
says the address, "is at stake. Death and devastation are 
the certain consequences of delay. Every moment is infi- 
nitely precious. An hour lost may deluge your country in 


blood and entail perpetual slavery upon the few who may 
survive the carnage." An answering spirit animated the 
inhabitants of this town and as will appear a considerable 
number joined the army gathered around Boston. 

In response to this appeal and in full sympathy with the 
sentiment of the colony the enlistments from this town were 
neither tardy nor few in number. It is probable that some 
enlisted at this tune of whom no record has been found. 
The rolls are imperfect and there is no reason to presume 
that the following lists contain the names of all from this 
town who w^ere in the service either at this time or at subse- 
quent periods. The muster roll of the company of Captain 
David Wilder of Leominster in Colonel Whitcomb's regi- 
ment bears the rikmes of sixty-eight men including officers. 
On one of the rolls of this company the residence of each 
man is stated. The following abstract contains only the 
Ashburnham men : 


Jonathan Gates, 

First Lieutenant 

April 25 1775 

Francis Lane, 




Peter Joslin, 




Joshua Holt 



Jacob Kiblinger 



Philip Locke 



David Robinson 



Samuel Salter 



Aaron Samson 



Henry Hall 



Henry Winchester 



Samuel Willard 



John Whitney 



Ebenezer Wood 



Philip Winter 




David Clark, Jr. April 26 

Joshua Hemmenway " 26 

John Farmer " 26 

Joseph Smith, Jr. ** 27 

Jonathan Gates, Jr. May 29 

Isaac Blodget July 17 

John Locke " 17 

Jacob Winter " 17 

Daniel'Edson " 17 

The men participating in the siege of Boston remained in 
the service until the close of the year and some of them 
remained a few weeks longer or until new recruits came for- 
ward to fill their place. In the same service were David 
Clark, Sen., in the compan}^ of Captain Longley in Colonel 
Whitcomb's regiment, Uriah Holt in Captain Burt's com- 
pany and Thomas Button in Captain Wyman's company of 
Colonel Prescott's regiment. 

Twenty-three men from Ashburnham participated in the 
battle of Bunker Hill. Several others who subsequently 
removed to this town shared the danger and glory of that 
memorable engagement, but at the time were residents of 
other towns. Of these, twenty were in Captain Wilder's 
company and the remaining three were Clark, Holt and 
Dutton who were named in a former paragraph. It is prob- 
able that Colonel Whitcomb's regiment, as an organization, 
was not engaged in the battle of Bunker Hill but it is cer- 
tain, and the fact is undisputed, that the company of Cap- 
tain Wilder was warmly engaged on that occasion. 

It was this year that the first summer boarders arrived in 
Ashburnham. We do not know their names nor the families 
that entertained them. In accordance with stipulations 
between the committee of safety and General Gage at Bos- 
ton, many families of that environed town were sufiered to 


leave unmolested and by the committee were distributed 
among the several towns of the colony for temporary sup- 
port. The number of these worthy poor assigned to Ash- 
burnham was twelve. 

At the close of the year, 1775, a simple form of State 
government was in operation, controlled by a house of repre- 
sent'i.tives and an executive council, and judicial courts were 
duly organized. This form of government was crude and 
untried. A healthy public sentiment and vigilance, tem- 
pered with prudence, were the main protection of the peo- 
ple. The summer of this year had been extremely hot and 
dry, and the slender harvests occasioned much anxiety and 
alarm for the future. This condition of affairs, the absence 
of many of the heads of families in the army, and the 
extreme solicitude experienced by all concerning the issues 
of the war, cast a deepening gloom over the trials and 
anxieties of the closing year. 

1776. The year 1776 was an eventful one. The for- 
tunes of the army were not decisive in any degree, yet the 
patriotism and bold faith of the colonists at no time shone 
forth more conspicuous^. The record of the year will 
afford ample proof that the inhabitants of Ashburnham gave 
an unqualified adhesion to the more comprehensive plans 
and the deeper sentiment which animated the colonies. 
The war commencing on the plea of defence now changed 
to a war for independence. It was no longer a domestic 
strife. The patriots ceased to be rebels and a civil war 
was odious to many. They were now ready for revolution 
and by the Declaration of Independence, in which they 
asserted their right and title to all the attributes of a nation, 
their position among the nations and their attitude to Eng- 
land were suddenly changed. Heretofore, the proceedings 
of the conventions were recommendations and appeals to 


the patriotism of the people ; now such enactments 
assmned the dignity and majesty of law, and, aided by a 
spirit of obedience which pervaded the colonies, there was 
no failure of orderly conduct nor any hiatus in the munici- 
pal government of the people. Through radical changes 
and for a season through the failure of any organic law, the 
town of Ashburnham held meetings, chose officers and lev- 
ied taxes with no authority except a loyal public sentiment. 

In May of this year the General Court passed an order 
calling upon the people to express an opinion concerning a 
formal and entire separation from Great Britain. It was 
not presumed that a reconciliation was either probable or 
possible, but an explicit expression of opinion was suggested 
by this action. On the twenty-fourth day of June a war- 
rant for a town meeting was issued and four days later the 
inhabitants of Ashburnham were assembled to deliberate 
upon a grave and momentous question. The article and the 
vote are self-explanatory. 

Article 2. To see if the Inhabitants of said Town are willing 
to stand hy the Honourable Congress in declaring the Colonies 
Independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain with their lives 
and fortunes to Support them in the measure. 

June 28, 1776. Pursuant to the above warrant the town 
being met made choice of Mr. Elisha Coolidge moderator. 

Voted. We the Inhabitants of the Town of Ashburnham, in 
Town meeting assembled being sensible of the disadvantage of 
having any further connections with the Kingdom of Great 
Britain and are willing to brake off all connections with them and 
it is our Resolution that if the Honorable Congress shall declare 
the Colonies Independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain that 
we the said Inhabitants will stand by them with our lives and for- 
tunes to support them in the measure. 

The foregoing motion being put was voted unanimously. 


Soon after this vote the Declaration of Independence was 
received in printed form. It was read from the pulpit and 
transcribed at length upon the records of the town. 

At the annual meeting the town chose Jonathan Taylor, 
John Willard, Jonathan Samson, Abijah Joslin and Eben- 
ezer Conant, Jr., a committee of correspondence. The 
only remaining action of this meeting relating to the war 
was a vote " to abate the soldiers highway rates for the last 
year.'* The selectmen, upon whom devolved many duties 
concerning the prosecution of the war, were William Whit- 
comb, John Kiblinger and Oliver Willard. 

In connection with these proceedings the service in the 
field for the year was the natural sequence of the spirit per- 
vading the town. The company of Captain David Wilder, 
containing twenty-four men from Ashburnham which par- 
ticipated in the siege of Boston, was discharged on account 
of expiration of term of service near the close of the year 
1775. Without returning home Jonathan Gates, Jr., and 
possibly others, reenlisted and served an additional term 
of three months. About this time the army became so 
depleted by expiration of terms of enlistment that a call was 
issued for additional troops, and to maintain the army while 
the new recruits were being enlisted there was also a call 
for men for a short term of service. For the service last 
named this town furnished three men who enlisted for six 
weeks and were assigned to the right wing of the army at 
Eoxbury. They were Jonathan Samson, Jr., Joseph Met- 
calf and his son, Ezekiel Shattuck Metcalf, in Captain Hill's 
company of Harvard. In an affidavit of the widow of 
Ezekiel Shattuck Metcalf, in support of her application 
for a pension in 1839, she alleges there were four men 
from this town in that company. Her recollection may be 
correct but no record of the remainins: soldier has been dis- 


covered. In the company of Captain Rand of Westminster 
and in the same service was David Meniam who enlisted for 
three months in January of this year. When Washington 
withdrew the army to New York he left at Boston only three 
regiments of militia. Massachusetts promptly raised three 
additional regiments for the defence of the harbor. In these 
regiments, serving under General Ward, Ashburnham was 
honorably represented. 

Jonathan Samson, Jr., after completing the enlistment 
mentioned in a former paragraph, joined the army again in 
July and served in the company of Captain Manasseh Sawyer 
of Sterling in Colonel Dyke's regiment. With his company 
he was engaged four and one-half months in constructing 
forts at Dorchester Heights. Again in December he enlisted 
into the same company and served three months *at Dorches- 
ter. In the last service he was joined by David Merriam, 
Ebenezer Bennett Davis and Daniel Putnam. In Captain 
Warner's company of Colonel Josiah Whitney's regiment 
are found the familiar names of Uriah Holt and Thomas 
Ross and in Colonel Dyke's regiment was David Taylor. 
Jacob Kiblinger and John Hall served two months in the 
summer of this year in the company of Captain Woods in 
Colonel Converse's regiment, which for a time w^as stationed 
at Dobb's Ferry and at Tarrytown and constituted a part 
of the main army under Washington. In the same com- 
pany was Abraham Gibson who then resided in Fitchburg, 
but subsequently removed to this town where he resided 
many years. 

In the company of Captain Sargent of Princeton in 
Colonel Josiah Whitney's regiment from May to July were 
John Kiblinger, William Ward and Jacob Rodiman. They 
were stationed near Boston and for a short time were with 
the army in Rhode Island in an unsuccessful attack upon the 


British. In the same company was Charles Hastings who 
enlisted from Princeton but soon after removed to this town. 

David Stedman served one enlistment in Captain Fiske's 
company in Colonel Brooks' regiment, and Nicholas White- 
man enlisted December 8 in Captain Alden's company, 
Colonel Mitchell's regiment. 

Three soldiers sealed their devotion to the cause of their 
country with their lives. These were Peter Joslin, aged 
about twenty-five years, who died on his homeward journey 
from the army; Philip Winter, aged twenty-two years, who 
died in the service, and Daniel Hobart, aged twenty-seven 
years, who was killed at the battle of White Plains, October 
28, 1776. Young Hobaii: enlisted in June and was assigned 
to Colonel Coleman's regiment which joined the army under 
Washington. In this engagement with the enemy he was 
wounded in the thigh with a musket ball and left upon the 
field. His retiring comrades beheld the enemy approach 
and beat him with clubbed muskets. 

Dr. Abraham Lowe and David Wallis then of Lunenburg, 
Isaac Whitmore of Leominster, Cyrus Fairbanks of Harvard, 
Reuben Townsend of Shrewsbury, Isaac and William 
Stearns of Billerica, Jonas Rice of Sterling, Reuben Rice of 
Lancaster, Joshua Fletcher of Westford, Oliver and Jabez 
Marble of Stow, all of whom subsequently removed to Ash- 
burnham, were in the service some portion of the year. 

1777. The spring of this eventful year was a season of 
deepest gloom and depression. To this time the American 
army had been engaged in a defensive warfare and very fre- 
quently had been found unable to cope with the disciplined 
and well-equipped forces of the enemy. Yery frequently 
had the American soldier been obliged to retreat from scenes 
of courage and heroism worthy of victory. The discourage- 
ments of the hour were cumulative. To test the endurance 


and faith of the colonies came the depressing intelligence of 
the progress of the haughty army under Burgoyne in its 
advance from Canada to join the main army at New York. 
Apparently, a further invasion of the country was inevitable 
and especially was New England menaced with instant 
danger. The inhabitants of this town evinced no evidence 
of terror or dismay but calmly proceeded to adopt defensive 
measures and to raise their full proportion of men. The 
activity of the State authorities and the generous response 
of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire militia at this 
critical moment are important events in the history of the 
American Revolution ; but it is only the part borne by Ash- 
burnham that appeals for expression in this narrative. The 
number of enlistments in this town during the year was 
about one hundred. Some of these men were at Stillwater 
and Saratoga in the gallant army of General Gates which 
eventually crushed and annihilated the proud army of 
Burgoyne, so recently flushed with the hope of spoils and 
devastation. The latter they realized, but from a standpoint 
directly opposed to their lofty expectations. 

Preliminary to an account of the enlistments for the year 
some reference should be made to the action of the town and 
the home trials of the year. Recognizing efficient service, 
and possibly as an encouragement to their successors in office 
to pursue a similar policy in the conduct of town affairs, 
the town in March voted " to allow the selectmen additional 
compensation for extraordinary services the past year " in a 
special appropriation of " twenty-four shillings for going to 
Boston in their country's service." In May, William Whit- 
comb was chosen " to represent the town in the great and 
general court to be held in Boston the 28*^' day of May cur- 
rent." This record presents an early employment of the 
high-sounding and ponderous title that has flattered a legisla- 


ture with the weight of its own dignity. It was this session 
of the General Court which submitted a proposed constitu- 
tion for the acceptance of the people and which was rejected 
by a great majority early the following year. The selectmen 
this year were Samuel Wilder, Deacon John Willard, Jona- 
than Samson, Jonathan Taylor and Captain Abijah Joslin. 
The committee of correspondence and inspection were 
Samuel Foster, William Wilder, Enos Jones, Joseph INIet- 
calf and Francis Lane. Expressive of the sentiment of the 
town on the subject a committee, consisting of Captain 
Thomas Adams, George Dana, John Conn, Captain Jonathan 
Gates and William Wilder, was appointed to remonstrate 
the Legislature against the proposed measure of calling in the 
issue of paper money. Captain Adams named in this vote 
was the father of the centenarian, John Adams. The elder 
Adams removed to this town, 1775, and very soon after the 
alarm at Lexington, where he resided, until his death in 
1802. If this statement is opposed by other records, it is 
nevertheless correct. The first reference to a depreciated 
currency upon the record of this town is found in a vote late 
in the year "to allow Rev. John Cushing £33 J on account of 
the fall of money." 

It is impossible at this late period to name all the men of 
Ashburnham who served in the army this year. As is well 
known, a portion of the muster rolls were never filed among 
the State papers and others have been destroyed by fire. 
The roll here given, although imperfect, is highly creditable 
to the town, while every one will join in a regret that any 
name has been lost from the record of patriotic service. 
Among the Massachusetts forces sent to the defence of 
Rhode Island in 1777, was the regiment commanded by 
Colonel Josiah Whitney, which included at least five men 
from this town. They were John Kiblinger, Jacob Rodi- 


man, Samuel Metcalf, Jonathan Coolidge and William Ward. 
The service was rendered in the early part of the year and 
before this regiment was sent to New York, as the mileage 
for five of these men due from the State was allowed to the 
town in June. From other evidence it appears that these 
men were in service four months. In the summer of this 
year, intelligence of the fall of Crown Point and Ticonderoga 
and the steady and triumphant advance of G-eneral Burgoyne 
created a widespread sentiment of the most painful appre- 
hension. Early in July General Schuyler, while retreating 
before the enemy, issued a proclamation calling to his imme- 
diate assistance the militia of New England and New York, 
and aroused by the danger of the situation, multitudes obeyed 
the call. While men for this service were being recruited 
in Ashburnham, there came the startling intelligence that a 
detachment of the enemy had invaded the soil of Vermont 
and were pressing on toward the western counties of Massa- 
chusetts. The town immediately was in arms, and Captain 
Jonathan Gates, with twenty or thirty men from this town, 
immediately marched to the relief of their brethren. So 
prompt was the action of the authorities, and so responsive 
was the spirit manifested by the people, that all, or nearly 
every town in this vicinity, sent an independent company of 
men who did not delay for regimental organization, but each 
little company, independent of superior officers, conducted a 
brief campaign on personal responsibility. These men were 
not mustered nor organized into regiments and never received 
pay nor rations for their service. This company, with others 
from this vicinity, was marched to Charlemont, and was 
there held to await information of the progress and probable 
course of the enemy. Learning that the American army 
under General St. Clair had retreated into New York, and 
that the probable theatre of war had been removed beyond 


their vicinity, they were dismissed and after an absence of 
three weeks returned to their homes. There were no muster 
rolls of these men, and, with few exceptions, their names 
have faded beyond recall. It was an anonymous campaign. 
In the same expedition were forty-eight men from West- 
minster, under command of Captain Elisha Jackson ; Captain 
Thurlo led a company of twenty-two men from Fitchburg. 
Lunenburg was represented by Captain Carlisle and a num- 
ber of men under his command. In the latter company was 
Dr. Abraham Lowe, later, the well-known physician of this 

The few names of the Ashburnham company that can now 
be ascertained are Jonathan Samson, Jr., William Ward, 
John Adams, David Merriam and probably Jacob Constan- 
tine, John Kiblinger and Nicholas Whiteman. Scarcely had 
these men returned to their homes and the labor of their 
fields before they were again called into service. The 
annihilation of the army under Burgoyne was a preconcerted 
effort and this call upon the militia was a part of a well- 
matured plan. Catching the spirit of the undertaking, the 
men came promptly forward " to drive the Hessians into the 
woods." Captain Gates was commander also of this expedi- 
tion and in the rapid organization of the army, his company 
was assigned to serve in connection with a New Hampshire 
regiment commanded by Colonel Benjamin Bellows of 
Walpole. The company, quickly enlisted and hurriedly 
equipped, was marched through Charlemont, Williamstown 
and thence to Bennington, Vermont, arriving there two days 
after the victory of General Stark. Here they were per- 
mitted to behold the prisoners there confined and guarded in 
the meeting-house, and thus stimulated by a view of the 
fruits of valor, were hurried on to Fort Edward in New 
York, where a part of them remained until after the surren- 


der of Burgoyne, which occurred October 17, and some of 
them were transferred to other companies and participated in 
the battles of Stillwater and Saratoga. The number of men 
from Ashburnham in the second expedition commanded by 
Captain Jonathan Gates was between twenty and thirty. 
Only a part of their names has been discovered. They are 
William Ward, Nicholas Whiteman, Jacob Constantine, 
John Adams, Jonathan Samson, David Merriam, Jonathan 
Gates, Jr., John Kiblinger, Ezekiel S. Metcalf, and Mr. 
Gates, a brother of Captain Jonathan Gates. 

To avoid the inconvenience experienced during the pre- 
ceding two years, on account of the short terms of enlist- 
ment, and to create a more stable and a better disciplined 
army, orders were given early in 1777 to establish the regi- 
ments on the continental plan and recruit their decimated 
ranks with men enlisted for three years, or during the war. 
For this purpose the quota of Ashburnham was sixteen, and 
an earnest effort was made to supply the required number. 
Thirteen men enlisted and were mustered into service May 
26, 1777, for three years, and the town or individuals hired 
the three remaining men, Francis Lee of Pepperell, Andrew 
Foster of Andover, and Josiah Fessenden of Boston, to 
complete the quota. 

The men from Ashburnham whose names are deeply 
inscribed in the tablets of the history of the town, were 
Ebenezer Bennett Davis, David Clark, David Clark, Jr., 
John Winter, Thomas Pratt, Samuel Mason, John White, 
Paul Sawyer, Jacob Lock, Thomas Ross, Joshua Holden, 
Timothy Johnson and Adam Rodiman. 

A considerable number of other men from this town was 
in the service this year. There are many incidental refer- 
ences which establish the fact, but do not reveal the 
names of the soldiers. In August this year there was a 


draft in this town for men to serve three months, but the 
number of men required has not been ascertained. It 
appears that David Chaffin was drafted at this time and was 
assigned to Captain Nathaniel Carter's company in Colonel 
Cushing's regiment and joined the army under General 
Gates. On account of sickness he was discharged and 
arrived home, November 1, 1777. 

1778. The new year opened with a town meeting at 
which the town voted that they " were not willing to send 
any relief to the Continental soldiers now in the army." 
The natural construction of this language unfairly represents 
the prevailing sentiment and the real intent of the town. 
It was the intention of the town, as appears from other 
records, that the needs of the soldiers beyond their stipu- 
lated pay and bounty should be left with their friends and 
the generosity of individuals, which had proved adequate in 
the past and were confidently invoked in this instance. 
Present in this meeting, perhaps, was Samuel Metcalf, then 
a youth of sixteen years, who had but recently returned 
from a long and perilous journey to the army, bearing 
clothing to his brother Ezekiel to supply a loss caused by 
the burning of his tent w^hich had left him destitute. With 
such evidence of the thoughtful care of the soldier in the 
field, with the hum of the wheel, the click of the loom and 
the busy needle in every home, there was present in this 
meeting every assurance that the individual and not the town 
could best respond to this call upon their charity. 

In May of this year, the town approved of the Articles of 
Confederation proposed by the Continental Congress. The 
vote was decisive. The records assert "there was but one 
against it," but the name and motive of this dissenting voice 
are not revealed. In the midst of the weighty responsibilities 
resting upon our worthy fathers, perplexed with the demands 


of war and the problems of new forms of government, the 
town eloquently assert their attentive care of the family of 
the soldier in a vote "to help Timothy Johnson's wife who is 
in needy circumstances, so that she may be made comfort- 

Timothv Johnson is found in the list of men enlistins: the 
previous year for three years and leaving, doubtless with 
confidence, his wife and their three babes to the considerate 
care of his townsmen. 

To the husbandman the summer of 1778 was one of o^reat 
discouragements. The season was extremely dry and the 
product of the field was small and unremunerative. The 
partial failure of the crops was keenly felt at a season when 
the product of the farm was the only means to meet the 
heavy demands for money and provisions to carry on the 
war. To give poignancy to their despondency the currency 
depreciated so rapidly in value that financial ruin seemed 
instant and inevitable. During the year 1778, the equiva- 
lent of a unit of money decreased from one-third to less than 
one-sixth of its nominal value. One assessment of taxes fol- 
lowed another in rapid succession, until the constable, who 
was also collector of taxes, only left the door to soon return 
with renewed demands, and creditors, beholding every dol- 
lar of their dues fade in value from month to month, were 
importunate and peremptory in their demands for immediate 
payment. In the midst of these depressing surroundings 
at home came many assurances of amended fortunes. 

During the past few months a disheai-tened and retreating 
army, receiving timely reenforcement, had fought several suc- 
cessful battles which had completely annihilated a proud and 
invading army. The patriots had taught the disciplined and 
well-equipped soldiery of Europe that they were their 
equals, both in the open field and in the strategems of war. 


They had awakened a renewed confidence in themselves 
which imparted the strength of cohesion and of discipline to 
the patriot army. The seat of war was removed to the 
South, and the calls for troops were less frequent and imper- 
ative. The sudden and tantalizing alarms which had char- 
acterized the preceding year, giving the minute-men but 
little freedom from actual service or solitude when at 
home, for many months were not repeated. In addition to 
all these flattering omens, which encouraged hope to triumph 
over despondency, the most enlivening hopes were associ- 
ated with the alliance with France, and her proffers of assist- 
ance in the prosecution of the war. A firmer faith in the 
success of their cause was everywhere manifested, until 
many were persuaded to believe that the war was substan- 
tially at an end. And yet amid these cheering omens 
another vial was being opened whose bitterness soon 
drenched the land ; only an oasis had been reached, and not 
the fruitful soil beyond the desert sands ; the clouds Avere 
not breaking, but only shifting into new shapes, to again 
inundate the land with darker days and greater trials. 

The record of the preceding year left the continental 
soldiers from this town with the army under the immediate 
command of Washington. It will be remembered that these 
men enlisted for three years. Jacob Lock and Samuel Mason 
having died the remaining fourteen shared the suffering of a 
winter of unusual severity at Valley Forge. In the spring of 
this year with more than two years of rugged service before 
them they followed the fortunes of Washington in the 
extreme heat and dangers of Monmouth and in the summer 
campaign near the city of New York. In the late autumn 
they were marched to Middlebrook, New Jersey, and there 
erected huts for the winter. The new recruits this year are 
found in several regiments and in as many branches of the 


service, and there is ample evidence that several were drafted 
or enlisted in the spring and summer whose names and ser- 
vice cannot now be stated. 

The men that were being enlisted to recruit the decimated 
ranks of the continental regiments were so few in number 
that the General Court called for two thousand men to serve 
in these regiments for the term of nine months. For this 
service three men from this town volunteered or were 
drafted. William Ward enlisted in the month of June and 
was assigned to Colonel Marshall's regiment, from which he 
was discharged March 7, 1778, and about the same time and 
under the same requisition, Jonathan Benjamin and Benjamin 
Clark entered the service and were mustered at Fishkill, 
New York. The muster rolls describe Benjamin as seven- 
teen years of age, five feet and six inches in stature and of 
light complexion. Clark, the roll alleges, was at this time 
sixteen years of age, only five feet and two inches in height 
and light complexion. Young Clark was not a tall soldier, 
and as he lived to enlist again, there is license for tlie pre- 
sumption that his head was carried below the line of greatest 
danger. Having filled this quota, the selectmen express 
their relief in a letter to the General Court. 

To THE HoN^^^ Council & House op Representatives of the 

State Massachusetts Bat. 

These m ay certify that the Town of Ashburnham have com- 
plied with the resolve of the Court of the 20*^ of April 1778 last 
in raising Continental men and the men marched when called for. 

Ashburnham Aug 24*^ 1778. 

JOHN CONN I Selectmen. 

Worcester ss Aug 20*^ 1778. 

personally appeared Capt Jonathan Gates of Ashburnham and 
made oath to the above certificate before me. 


Town Clerk. 


Reference is made in the following letter to a subject of 
which the result cannot be stated. The fact that Benjamin 
Clark was eventually mustered into service at Fishkill for 
nine months, and at that time the father, David Clark, had 
two full years to serve, would indicate that he was not 
accepted as a substitute for his father. 

ASHBORNHAM JUDG 01 y^ 1778. 

this is to sortify that Jonathan Benjeman has ingaged in the con- 
tinental sarvis nine monts and Likewise Benjeman Clark in the 
Rom of his father David Clark, he being a man in years and I 
should be glad if you would except him in his romm. 

To Mr Worshbon the superentendent for the County of Worcester. 

In the summer of this year, a combined attack, by land 
and water, upon the British army at Newport, in Rhode 
Island, was projected. An army raised from the militia of 
New England was sent to reenforce General Sullivan, and to 
cooperate with the French fleet. Calls were also made this 
year for men to serve in defence of Boston and the military 
stores deposited there. In the former service there were at 
least four men from this town. They were enlisted or 
drafted in June to serve the remainder of the year. They 
were assigned to the company of Captain Benjamin Edgell in 
Colonel John Jacob's regiment, which was a part of the 
army under General Sullivan. They arrived home the first 
week in January, 1779. The descriptive list of the men 
from Ashburnham is of interest. 


Ezekiel Metcalf, June 25th, 100 miles, 6 mos 12 days, £29-15-3 

John Chamberlain, June 24th, 100 " 6 " 13 " 29-18-4 

David Chaffin, June 25th, 100 " 6 " 12 " 29-15-3 

Simon Kodiman, June 26th, 80 " 6 " 11 " 29-5-8 


To meet the requirements for service at Boston, a number 
of men was drafted or recruited to sei-ve three months. 
Among them were Jonathan Samson, Jr., Mcholas White- 
man and John Hall, who were assigned to the company of 
Captain John White of Lancaster, and stationed at Castle 
island. In service at this time and near Boston, were David 
Steadman and William Ward. The latter served only one 
month and was employed at Prospect Hill in guarding 
prisoners, the remains of Burgoyne's army. From this 
service he returned in season to enlist in Colonel Marshall's 
regiment, as stated in a former paragraph. 

Ashburnham was now required to furnish its proportion of 
clothing for the army. A resolve was adopted by the 
General Court, March 13, 1778, requiring each town in the 
State to furnish as many shirts, pairs of shoes and stockings, 
as would be equal to one-seventh part of all its male inhabi- 
tants. These articles were ordered to be collected in each 
county and forwarded to the army by the county agent, 
whereupon each soldier was to receive one shirt, one pair of 
shoes and one pair of stockings " as a present from the people 
of the State." Under this resolve, the quota of Ashburnham 
was immediately filled. If the quota of this town was seven- 
teen, more shirts were forwarded than was required, but it 
is probable that the excess of shirts was intended as an 
equivalent for a deficiency of shoes and stockings. If this 
supposition is correct, the quota of Ashburnham was twenty, 
which represents that at this time there were one hundred 
and forty male inhabitants in this town. The following 
letter of the selectmen is a part of this proceeding : 

To Mr. John Wait Agent and Receiver of Clothing for the 
County of Worcester 

Sir these are to inform 3'ou that we have complied with the 


resolve of Cort last sent in providing clothing for the solgers. 
we have provided 

Seventeen pr of Shoes cost £3 pr p"" £51 

and seventeen pr Stockings £1 :16-0 pr p^^^ £30=12=0 

and twenty-seven Shirts at £1 :16 apiece £48=12^0 

and as we have received no furder orders Since the Resolve of the 

general Cort concerning the Clothing we do send them by Dea'^ 

Samuel Wilder to you to be Rec*^ as our part of the clothing for 

this time 

Sum total 

for Clothing 
Ashburnham Sept 16-1778 £130-4-0 
So we remain your friends & Humble Serv. 


JOHN CONN [-Selectmen. 


To the Hons^^^ Corts Committee we leave the Troble of Colect- 
ing and Cost of Transporting 37 miles to the agent to your Honors 

This account was audited June 5, 1779. The price of the 
shoes was reduced to forty-eight shillings a pair and £5-11-0 
was allowed for transportation thirty-seven miles. 

Concerning the record of one of the continental soldiers of 
the town, an important fact remains as yet untold. Adam 
Rodiman deserted. If he had been a man of diminutive 
stature, like Benjamin Clark, it might reasonably be pre- 
sumed that he was temporarily overlooked and the record 
made before the oversight was noted, but he is described as 
twenty-three years of age, six feet high, dark eyes and hair 
and by occupation a blacksmith. Whether he repented and 
returned, whether he was returned by force without repent- 
ance, or whether he neither returned nor repented, does not 
appear in the records. It is known, however, that after the 

war he resided several years in this town. Ah ! Adam, 


hadst thou known that one hundred and more years after thy 
desertion of the post of duty, this act of thine would be 
recalled, that the faithful historian who records with impartial 
pen the deeds of the just and the unjust, giving at once to the 
principal inhabitant and most lowly citizen his fair measure 
of censure or praise as his life and service are revealed in the 
records and traditions of the town ; hadst thou known and 
realized all this, thou wouldst have remained to share the 
trial and dangers bravely endured by thy heroic comrades, 
and wouldst have conquered a cowardice that gives an only 
stain to the ensign armorial of the good old town of Ash- 
burnham. But, alas ! like thy progenitor, whose name thou 
bore, thou too didst fall. 

1779. The theatre of the war having been transferred to 
the Southern States, the call for men was less imperative 
than in the years preceding. At the same time the military 
spirit of the people waned with the removal of danger from 
the borders of New England. If the number of men was 
comparatively small, the labor in procuring them was no 
less onerous than in former years. In accordance with a 
resolve of the General Court, passed June 9, eight men were 
raised in July to recruit the continental army. Three of 
these men to serve nine months were mustered with the 

following description : 

Ebenezer Conant, age 36, height 5 — 9 
Jacob CoDstantine, "• 27, *' 5—9 

John Kiblinger, ''24, " 6—0 

The roll also announced that all of them were of dark 
complexion. Many of the continental men who entered in 
1777 were in Colonel Greaton's regiment at this time. 
Succeeding the repeated failures in the past, a successful 
attempt to dislodge the enemy from Khode Island was made 


this year. In this service Ashburnham was represented by 
at least five men who were drafted in July and served six 
months. They were marched under command of Sergeant 
Stone to Providence, and at the close of the campaign were 
discharged at Newport. A part or all of them were assigned 
to Captain Thomas Fiske's company in Colonel Tyler's or 
Colonel Jackson's regiment. The names which have been 
found from nearly as many sources are as follows : Sergeant 
Joseph Stone, Jonathan Gates, Isaac Merriam, AYilliam 
Winchester and Jonathan Winchester. In the autumn 
David Merriam took the place of his brother Isaac Merriam. 
In the early autumn, Ashburnham was required to send four 
men, styled fatigue-men, to serve three months under Cap- 
tains Henry and Wilson at Castle William and Governor's 
island. The men eno^ao:ed in this service were David 
Chaffin, Edward Whitmore, Nathaniel Kendall and David 
Samson. Daniel Bond of this town was in the seiwice as 
fatigue-man at this time, but probably did not enlist at the 
time the others were recruited, and William Ward served 
three months this year at West Point in a company com- 
manded by Captain Burt of Harvard. At the close of the 
season the Northern army, which included the continental 
soldiers from this town, retired into winter quarters, — one 
division at West Point, New York, and the other at Morris- 
town, New Jersey. 

At the annual meeting, Isaac Merriam, Nathaniel Harris 
and Daniel Putnam were chosen a committee of correspond- 
ence. The selectmen were John Conn, Oliver Willard and 
Amos Dickerson. William Whitcomb was again selected to 
represent the town in the General Court at this session, 
which did not adjourn until October. He was permitted to 
join with his associates in a fi-uitless attempt to regulate by 
law the price of articles of merchandise. If such legislation 


at all times and under all circumstances has proved futile, 
in this instance the legislators recognized the exigencies of 
the hour and manifested more courage than wisdom in the 
advancement of remedial measures. The ineffectual meas- 
ures of the Legislature were supplemented by the recom- 
mendations of county conventions. The convention which 
assembled in Worcester August 1 1 , proposed a schedule of 
prices for many articles of merchandise, and with great 
earnestness and solicitude, recommended the people to adopt 
them in the conduct of their business. 

In this proceeding the convention essayed to effect by 
appeal that which the Legislature failed to accomplish by 
the force of law. The town of Ashburnham promptly 
adopted the recommendations of the convention and chose 
Samuel Wilder, Captain Jonathan Gates, Jacob Harris, 
Moses Tottingham and Francis Lane a committee to 
encourage the people, and through the force of a firm, public 
sentiment compel them to adhere for a time to the stated 
prices. Li these proceedings the necessities of the people 
were demanding relief. But the love of gain, the insatiable 
greed of speculation and the personal interest of the few who 
had the ability to profit by the necessities of the many 
rendered all these measures ineffectual. In February the 
General Court submitted to the people the proposition of 
calling a convention for the purpose of forming a State 
Constitution. The town of Ashburnham voted May 21, 
" That this State have a new form of Government as soon as 
may be, and also that our representative vote to have a State 
Convention called for that purpose." 

On an article in the warrant for the May meeting, "To see 
if the Town will allow Mr. Jonathan Samson and Mrs. Hem- 
menway for two small Deer sent in to the service," the 
decision was in the negative. The same fate attended a 


proposition to pay Deliverance Davis " for g'oing to Albany 
for to carry cloatliing to the soldiers.". If these decisions of 
the town fail to satisfy the sensitive nature of loyal descend- 
ants, they can be consoled with the fact that there could not 
have been a great sum of money in the treasury, and any 
action on these points was quite immaterial so long as the 
soldiers had and enjoyed both the deer and the clothing. 
Having previously chosen a committee, consisting of Jacob 
Harris, Captain Jonathan Gates, Lieutenant Amos Dicker- 
son, John Adams and Francis Lane, to estimate and equalize 
the service in the army of each man in Ashburnham, the 
town adopted the report of this committee August 30. That 
report if it had been preserved w^ould have afforded the out- 
line of a more accurate history of Ashburnham during the 
Revolution than can now be written. 

Thursday, December 9, 1779, was a day of thanksgiving 
in all the States. The observance of this day is seldom 
noticed in history, but there are many evidences at hand to 
establish the fact that in many places there were religious 
exercises, and that our fathers, burdened Avith the weighty 
problems of the hour, and oppressed with the existing state 
of public affairs, did make a solemn effort to find occasion 
for thankfulness on this memorable day. The journal of 
Isaac Stearns informs us that the day was observed in Ash- 
burnham, and that Mr. Gushing preached from the text : 
"The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them 
that have pleasure therein." 

1780. The record of death continues. Again the open 
ranks of the continental regiments are the silent oracles of 
their valor. In prompt response to renewed acquisition for 
men, seven recruits from Ashburnham were mustered into 
the service for six months at Leicester. AYith other recruits 
they were marched from Springfield July 2, under command 


of Captain Pliinehas Parker. These men were styled new 
levies, and w^ere assigned to the Massachusetts regiments 
already in the field and stationed at West Point. The 
names of these recruits are found upon the descriptive lists 
on file in the State archives. 





Samuel Metcalf 




David Chaffin 




Edward Whitmore 




Elijah Mason 




Simeon Rodiman 




Isaac Merriam 




Jacob Rodiman 




On another roll crediting this service to Ashburnham, is 
the name of Nathaniel Breed, but there is no other evidence 
that he was from this town. The service of these men and 
others in the continental army at this time covers an im- 
portant chapter of Eevolutionary history. They were with 
the Northern army at the time of the treason of Arnold and 
the execution of Andre. In an application for a pension, 
David Chaffin alleges he was one of the guards and was 
within ten feet of Andre when he was executed. Isaac 
Merriam says he was in Ncav Jersey when Andre was hanged 
and when Arnold attempted to deliver up West Point, and 
afterwards marched back to West Point and was there 
discharged at the expiration of six months. Edward Whit- 
more was in a detached service for a time but joined his 
regiment a short time before he was discharged. He says 
he recollects Arnold's treason and saw Major Andre 
executed. In July there was another requisition for men 
to serve three months. Jonathan Samson, Jr., Andrew 
Winter, Jr., and Reuben Rice, who removed to Ashburn- 
ham this year, entered the service and also served at West 


In the summer of this year, the men who enlisted for 
three years came home at difterent times in the order of their 
discharge from the companies in which they had served. On 
the arrival of each little band, the pastor read their names 
the following Sabbath and offered the prayer of gTateful 
thanks to Almighty God for their preservation from the 
dano^ers of war and their safe return to the avocations of 
peace. John White was probably discharged on account of 
disability the previous year. He continued his residence 
here and became an inhabitant of Gardner when that town 
was incorporated. 

The selectmen for 1780 were Samuel Wilder, Isaac 
Merriam and Francis Lane. For a committee of corres- 
pondence. Captain Deliverance Davis, Stephen Kandall and 
Jonathan Samson were selected and the town also made 
choice of Captain Deliverance Davis, Levi Whitney and 
Amos Lawi-ence to hire the soldiers for the ensuing year. 
The vote of this town upon the adoption of a State Con- 
stitution was an emphatic expression of approval and is 
mentioned in another chapter. In September, the civilian 
and the soldier, reaping the early fruits of the war, cast the 
first vote of Ashburnham for State ofiicers chosen by the 
people, and at the same time Samuel Wilder was chosen as 
the last representative under the temporary form of govern- 

The winter of 1779-80 was one of unusual severity. The 
men in Ashburnham brought wood for their daily fire upon 
their backs, and the brooks and springs being congealed by 
fi'ost, a scarcity of water aggravated the discomforts of an 
inclement winter. The extreme cold and deep snow of that 
season were the theme of frequent remark as long as that 
generation endured. 


1781. The selectmen for this year were Jacob Harris, 
Hezekiah Corey and Enos Jones. For a committee of cor- 
respondence, the town selected Samuel Cutting, Timothy 
Fisher and Henry Winchester. At the same meeting in 
which these oflScers were selected, while struo-o^lino: with the 
burdens of the Eevolution and at an hour when their burdens 
were most onerous, the inhabitants of the town were pre- 
pared to direct their attention to other questions and to give 
a serious thought to a proper observance of the Sabbath. 
There was an article in the warrant for this meeting, " to see 
if the town will pass any vote to prevent travelling on the 
Sabbath." The succeedins; article was the one of set form 
which appeared in the annual warrant for many years : "to 
see if the town will let swine run at large the ensuing year." 
As would rationally be expected of our devoted worthies, 
they voted to put every legal restraint upon men and 
proffered the freedom of the town to the swine. 

If a smaller number of men was required for the army 
this year, they were procured with increased effort and 
under great financial embarrassment. While the three years' 
men were being raised, there was an intermediate call for men 
to recruit the army while the enlistments for a longer time 
were slowly progressing. These men were more easil}^ 
procured. In June Corporal Phinehas Hemenway, Jona- 
than Merriam and William Ward enlisted. They were 
assigned to Captain Sibley's company in Colonel Drury's 
regiment and were discharged the last of November. This 
was the seventh enlistment of William Ward. With the 
close of the preceding year came a call for more men to 
serve three years in the continental army. The town, 
embarrassed by the depreciated currency which had nearly 
become worthless, and by their inability to offer anything 
more substantial than a promise, passed the following vote 


as an encouragement to any who might be prevailed upon to 
enlist : " Voted that each man that will engage to serve in 
the army for three years shall have eighteen head of three 
years old cattle given him when his time is out, and if he be 
discharged in two years then said cattle are to be but two 
years old or if he serve but one year they are to be but one 
year old, all to be of middling size." In other words, the 
soldier was to receive a bounty of eighteen calves and the 
town was to keep them of middling size as long as the 
soldier remained in the service. The vote is an apt illustra- 
tion of the straits to which our worthy fathers were driven 
in the solution of the financial problems which attended their 
daily lives and official labors. The cattle bounty was not 
favorably received. The proposition savored of veal. The 
town could not retract its step and again. offer a bounty in 
currency, for that in the mean time had utterly failed. 
There could be no failure in the end. The originators of 
the calf project are again found equal to the emergency. 
They called to their aid in alluring their fellow-townsmen to 
enlist, the click and gleam of silver and gold. They offered 
each man who would enlist for three years, ninety pounds 
lawful money as it was rated in 1774. There was substance 
in this proposal. True, the tender was not necessarily in 
specie, but it was of a known and absolute value and equiva- 
lent to three hundred dollars. This vote was adopted in 
February and two months later five men were mustered into 
the service for the term of three years. All of them were 
described as of light complexion. 

David Clark 24 yrs of age 5 feet 9 inches in stature 

Jonas Benjamin 19 '<• " " 5 " 10 " 

John Coolidge 17 " '' '' 5 " 3 *' 

James Ledget 27 " " " 5 " 5 " 

John Mar— (blurred) 29 " " " 5 " 7 " 


In August following the committee was instructed "to 
hire the two three years men that were still wanted on the 
best terms they can." Near the close of the year the men 
were procured. 

Peter Rodiman, age 16, height 4 feet 11 inches, enlisted 
December 9. A boy of that age and stature enlisting for 
three years might be expected to look pale, but the muster 
rolls assert that at the time of engagement, he was of dark 
complexion. The other man was our old acquaintance, 
Benjamin Clark, who has added two inches to his stature 
since his former entrance into the service. One week after 
the enlistment of Rodiman , the other name was added to the 
muster rolls. Benjamin Clark, age 20 years, height 5 feet 6 
inches, complexion light, and occupation, farmer. This was 
the last enlistment from Ashburnham. At the close of the 
war, young Clark returned to this town and in 1787 re- 
moved to Reading, Vermont. The three years' men were 
called for in resolve of the General Court adopted December 
2, 1780. The call was for four thousand two hundred and 
forty men and the quota of this town was seven. It has 
appeared that more than a year elapsed before the town 
was able to secure all the men. Eventually the General 
Court took note of the delinquency and imposed a fine 
amounting to four hundred and twenty-eight pounds and five 
shillings. In the mean time the town had fulfilled the 
demand and petitioned the Legislature to remit the fine, 
which request was granted : 

To THE Honourable Senate and House of Representatives 
IN General Court assembled : 

The Petition of William Whitcomb in behalf of The Town of 
Ashburnham Humbly sheweth that the said Town of Ashburnham 
is Fined in the Last State tax for a Deficienc}' of two three years 


men which were absolutely Raised & marched agreable to the 
Resolve of the 2°"^ of Dec'' A. D. 1780 & subsequent resolves as 
will appear by the Receipt of the Superintendent ; your Petitioner 
therefore Prays That your Honours would take the matter into 3'our 
wise Consideration & Grant an abatement of the fines. As in 
Duty bound shall ever Pray 


In support of their petition the town produced the receipts 
for the required number of men, signed by Colonel Seth 
Washburn of Leicester, superintendent of enlistments. 

Leicester June y^ 26 1781. 
Received of the town of Ashburnham five men who have enlisted 
and past muster &c., &c. 



These were David Clark and the four others named in a 
former paragraph. 

Leicester March y^ 27 1782. 

This day received from Ashburnham Benjamin Clark a solger 

for the term of three years. 


Leicester June 11 1782. 
This day received from the town of Ashburnham one man to 
serve three years. 


The last receipt probably refers to Peter Rodiman and it 
will be observed that all the receipts are dated some time 
subsequent to the entry of enlistment on the military rolls. 
It is possible that these receipts were of set form and were 
issued by Colonel Washburn, whenever the town had need 
of them, as vouchers in answer to the demands of the 
General Court. 


The five soldiers who were recruited in the summer for 
three years according to tradition were hurried on to New 
York and from thence immediately proceeded with the army 
under Washington to Virginia, and there is ample evidence 
to sustain the assertion that some of the men enlisting this 
year remained in the service until near the close of the year 
1783. The discharge of David Clark signed by General 
Knox is dated December 24, 1783. 

The name of Jacob Winter appears in Captain Wilder's 
company in 1775. His subsequent service is not known, 
but he died a prisoner at Halifax in the autumn of 1777. 
The death of Samuel Mason, mentioned in the annals of 
1778, is recorded by Mr. Cushing in September, 1777, and 
Jacob Lock who was in the same service died a few weeks 
later. He was a son of John Oberlock whose children 
assumed the name of Lock. The same year Francis Ken- 
dall died, as stated by Mr. Cushing, "on his way from the 

And now after these years of carnage in the field and of 
denials and endurance at home, the curtain falls at York- 
town. The campaign of 1781 is ended. The nation's hope 
gleams in the bayonet and flashes in the sword of the return- 
ing soldier, while the hardships of the campaign are witnessed 
in his weary progress and the results of an exhaustive war 
are felt on every hand. 

In the pursuit of the narrative through the foregoing 
pages, the burdens of taxation and other incidents of the 
home life of our fathers durino: the Eevolution have been 
suffered to remain for mention in separate paragraphs. At 
the beginning of the war the colonists were not without 
resources but were unskilled in the art of finance. The 
colonial wars in which the people had been engaged had been 
maintained by a paper currency which though depreciated in 



some measure was eventually redeemed by allowances from 
the treasury of England in the payments for service rendered 
by the colonies. The paper money of the Revolution had 
no such foundation. After a brief season of apparent 
solidity it gradually depreciated in value until in 1781 it 
utterly failed and suddenly went out of circulation by 
general consent. The experience of the people of Ashburn- 
ham from this source was probably no greater and certainly 
no less than that of other towns. Sums of money voted by 
the town for specific purposes so rapidly depreciated in value 
before the tax could be assessed and collected that the appro- 
priation became inadequate for the purposes proposed and 
frequent disputes concerning balances arose between the 
debtor and the creditor. Explanatory of the intrinsic value 
ot sums of money mentioned in the preceding and subse- 
quent pages, the following table commencing with the year 
1777 when the depreciation in earnest began will represent 
for each succeeding month the number of pounds that were 
equivalent to one hundred pounds of standard value : 






January . . . 






February . . . 






March . . . . 






April . . . . 






May . . . . 






June .... 

. . 120 





July . . . 

. . 125 




August . . . 

. . 150 





. . 175 




October . . 

. . 275 




November . . 

. . 300 




December . . 

. . 310 




The burden of taxation is seen in the following excerpts 
from the town records. Other sums were assessed for war 
purposes under command of the General Court, of which no 
entry was made in the current volume of records. 



i778 December 16. 

1779 February 18. 
1779 August 30. 

1779 September 13. 

1780 January 27. 
1780 June 14. 




June 27. 

July 3. 

March 5. 

1781 August 20. 

We have assessed the inhabitants and estates 
in said town in the sum of £401-19-6 and 
have committed the lists to the constables 
for collection. 
Town and county rate committed for col- 
lection £357-9-11. 
Voted and granted £6150 to defray the 
charges of the war. 
We have assessed the inhabitants and es- 
tates in Ashburnham in the sum of 
£26364-7-0 and have committed the same 
to the constables for collection. 
Committed for collection state and count}^ 
rate amounting to the sum of £4328-9-0. 
Voted and granted £2500 to defray town 

Committed State tax for collection amount- 
ing to £6966. 
Voted and granted £7000 to defray the 
charges of the war and that the committee 
give security for any money that may be 
Voted that each man be allowed fifteen 
pounds per day for labor on the highway. 
Voted and granted £300 silver money for 

town charges. 
Voted that the constables take four shil- 
lings in lieu of one hundred dollars old 
emission from those persons who are be- 
hind in rates. 

By a resolve of the General Court adopted in September, 
1780, Ashburnham was required to supply the army with 
three thousand one hundred and twenty pounds of beef. 
The new obligation was promptly met by the town. 


1780 October 5. Voted that Amos Lawrence buy 3120 lbs. 

of beef for the army. 

In December following the General Coui-t made a second 
requisition for beef and again the inhabitants of Ashburnham 
are assembled in town meeting prepared to second the pro- 
visions of the Legislature for the support of the army. 

1780 December 27. Voted and granted £7200 for buying beef 

for the army. 

Probably on account of the depreciation of the currency, 
this sum proved inadequate for the purpose. The proportion 
of Ashburnham was five thousand nine hundred and ninety- 
two pounds. 

1781 January 15. Voted and granted £1800 to be added to 

£7200 granted at the last meeting and voted 
that Capt. Francis Lane purchase the beef. 

In June following came another demand fi'om the Legisla- 
ture and another town meeting was the natural sequence. 
This meeting was convened July 11, and after listening to 
the requisition, the town chose Captain Lane "to buy the 
beef wanted," and at the same meeting instructed their agent 
to procure the beef for which the town was in arrears on the 
former requisitions. Either reminded of their delinquency^ 
or prompted by a sense of duty, the town are assembled 
again in August and pass the final vote on the subject in 
choosing Benjamin Lane to buy all the beef that is wanted 
for the army. The last requisition was for twelve thousand 
four hundred and seventy-three pounds. 

Among the cumulative burdens of the Ee volution, and 
another item in the extended list of the demands upon the 
resources of a patriotic and uncomplaining people, was a 
second requisition for clothing which came simultaneously 


with the thh'd and last requisition for beef. It was a 
renewed appeal to the patriotism of the times. Our worthies 
neither faltered nor complained but promptly paid every 
demand upon their slender means and every tithe upon 
their daily toil. In addition to the meeting for the choice of 
State officers, there were seven town meetings in the year 
1781, and the burden of them all was to raise money and 
consequently to increase the lien upon their future crops and 
the future labor of themselves and their families. During 
the closing years of the war the experience of the patriot at 
home, oppressed by poverty and met by the vigilant demands 
of increasing taxation, is a sublime exhibition of patience 
and courage. Frequently compelled to surrender to the oft- 
returning tax-gatherer the choicest of his herds and the 
ripening product of his fields, making contributions of beef 
from the needs of his family and dividing his garments with 
the soldier in the field, he teaches posterity the sacrifices 
made and the price paid for national existence. Ever 
prominent in the annals of Ashburnham and seen in the 
lio:ht of the lustre of the achievements in the field will be 
the home trials and the sacrifices which attended the daily 
life of the patriot citizen. 

















A CONSIDERABLE number of the citizens of this town who 
removed hither during the last years, or soon after the close 
of the Revolution, had previously served in the army. 
While their service constitutes no part of the history* of Ash- 
burnham in the Revolution, these men subsequently became 
so intimately connected with the affairs of this town that the 
events of their lives are a part of its general history and 
their service in the war, even if performed while they were 
residing elsewhere, claims admission in this record of the 
lives and services of the citizens of Ashburnham. 

Ebenezer Munroe, who removed to this town about 

1782, where he lived highly respected until his death May 
12 177 


25, 1825, was a prominent actor in the engagement at 
Lexington, which is clearly established by the depositions 
of those who were engaged on that occasion. Replying to a 
remark made by a comrade as the British began firing that 
they only fired powder, Ebenezer Munroe exclaimed, "They 
have fired something besides powder now for I am wounded 
in the arm." He then discharged his gun receiving two 
balls from them in return, but neither did serious harm. 
His deposition was taken April 2, 1825, only a short time 
before his death in Avhich he says, "After the first fire (of 
the regulars) , I received a wound in my arm ; as I turned to 
run I discharged my gun into the main body of the enemy. 
Another ball passed between my arm and my body and just 
marked my clothes, one ball cut off a part of my ear-locks 
which were pinned up. The balls flew so thick I thought 
there was no chance of escape and that I might as well fire 
my gun as stand still and do nothing." He claimed that he 
fired the first gun on the American side. Being wounded he 
mounted a horse and rode from town to town alarming the 
people and carrying with him the convincing proof that the 
war in earnest had begun. 

Abraham Lowe, while a resident of Lunenburg, was in 
the service two months at the siege of Boston, two months 
commencing December 1, 1775, and five months in New 
York in 1776. He was also a volunteer at the Bennington 
alarm in 1777. 

Joseph Jewett, then residing in Bolton, enlisted for 
eight months in the spring of 1778, and served in New York. 
Enlisted again in 1779 in Colonel Denney's regiment ; also 
served at West Point three months in 1780 in Colonel Rand's 

Samuel Kelton, then of Needham, was a sergeant in 
Captain Aaron Smith's company, at Lexington alarm, and a 


captain in Colonel Patterson's regiment in the siege of 
Boston. He was known in Asliburnham as Captain Kelton 
from the date of his removal hither. 

Eeuben Townsend, then a citizen of Shrewsbury in 

1776, served in Xew York five months and nine months in 

1777. His first enlistment was in Colonel Smith's reo^iment 
and the second in Colonel Bigelow's regiment. 

Isaac Stearns, previous to his removal from Billerica, 
was a soldier in the siege of Boston eight months and par- 
ticipated in the battle of Bunker Hill. 

William Stearns, a brother of Isaac, was in the same 
company 'and for the same length of time. He removed to 
this town soon after this service. 

Isaac Whitmore, while a resident of Leominster, was in 
Captain Maxwell's company in Colonel William Prescott's 
regiment for one year commencing January 1, 1776, and 
was discharged at Peekskill, New York. No record of 
service after his removal to this town has been found. The 
war record of Edward Whitmore, being performed after his 
removal to this town, is found in the preceding chapter. 

Charles Hastings, then living in Princeton, served two 
months in 1776 in Rhode Island, also six months in 1777 in 
Colonel Keyes' regiment, and this service was also in Rhode 
Island. Enlisted again in 1778, and was a guard over 
prisoners from Burgoyne's army at Watertown and later at 
Rutland. This service was three or four months. Immedi- 
ately after he enlisted in Colonel Wade's regiment and served 
six months again in Rhode Island and was in the engage- 
ment at Newport ; also was in the continental army six 
months commencing July, 1780, and serving a part of the 
enlistment in Colonel Greaton's regiment he was transferred 
to Captain Haskell's company of Light Infantry under 
General Lafayette. This service was at West Point. 


David Wallis, then a resident of Lunenburg and a youth 
of seventeen years, was in the service one month in Captain 
Bellows' company and was at Fort Edward. In 1778 he 
was three months at Castle William, again in 1779 he served 
three months in Captain Martin's company stationed at 
Governor's island and Castle William. 

Cyrus Fairbanks, then residing in Harvard, was a volun- 
teer at the Lexington alarm and subsequently a drummer 
eight months in Captain Jonathan Davis' company ; was 
stationed at Cambridge and at Prospect Hill. In 1776 was 
a drum-major in the army near the Hudson, was also at Fort 
Edward one month in 1777. 

Ebenezer Wallis, at the age of fourteen years, was in 
the service three months at West Point in 1780. The fol- 
lowing year he enlisted again for three months and was at or 
near West Point. The first service was in Colonel Eand's 
regiment and the last service was in Colonel Webb's regi- 
ment. After the war he resided in Lunenburg and in 
Vermont, removing to Ashburnham about 1830. In 1835 
he started for New York and died on the way. 

Thomas Gibson, then of Fitchburg, served five months 
in the siege of Boston and two months in 1776 in Kew York. 
In 1777 he served in Captain Thurlo's company and in 1780 
he again enlisted for three months and joined the Northern 
army at and near West Point. He also served a few months 
at Boston harbor. Eemoved to Ashburnham very soon after 
his last term of service. 

Jonas Kice, then residing at Salem, was a volunteer at 
the alarm at Lexington and served eight months in the siege 
of Boston. He then removed to Sterling and from there 
enlisted in 1776 for five months and was assis^ned to the 
army in New York. In 1777 he served two months in 
Ehode Island. Kemoved to Ashburnham in 1779. 


Reuben E-ice was drafted at Lancaster December, 1776, 
for a term of three months and served the time in New 
Jersey. While temporarily residing in Winchendon in 1777 
he served in Captain Boynton's company in New York. In 
the spring of 1780 he removed to this town and was subse- 
quently in the army at West Point. 

Eliakim Rice removed to this town in 1779 or 1780. 
He resided here several years and removed to Hartland, 
Vermont. While a resident of Salem he served two or more 
enlistments. He was at the siege of Boston in Colonel 
Bridge's regiment. His company, in Avhich was his brother 
Jonas Rice, was engaged at the battle of Bunker Hill. ' 

Jabez Marble, then of Stow, served from October, 1775, 
to March, 1776, at the siege of Boston in Captain Brooks' 
company. Colonel Dyke's regiment. This service was per- 
formed for his twin brother Oliver, who had previously 
served three months of an enlistment for eight months. 
Only the name of Oliver Marble is found, as Jabez Marble 
answered to that name while completing the term of his 
brother. He served terms of two months each in 1777 and 
1779, both in Rhode Island, and in a later campaign in the 
same locality he served three months in 1780. The two 
brothers removed to Ashburnham from Stow, 1780. 

Lemuel Stimson, who removed to this town near the 
close of the war, had previously served two or more enlist- 
ments. He was in the siege of Boston and was engaged in 
the battle of Bunker Hill. His second service was at 
Ticonderoga in 1776. He Avas a native of Weston and 
resided in that town until he removed to Ashburnham. 

Abraham Townsend removed to this town about 1778, 
where he resided many years. Later he removed to Berlin, 
Vermont. He was in the service eis^ht months at Fishkill 
in 1778. No further record has been found and there is no 


reason to presume that he was not in the service at other 
times during the war. 

John Bowman, who resided in Lexington until after the 
Revolution, removed from Andover to this town about 1810, 
served four enlistments and is found on the rolls of service 
in New York and Rhode Island. 

Joshua Fletcher, then of Westford, served an enlist- 
ment of seven months in Boston harbor and again three 
months at Boston. He then in February, 1777, entered the 
continental army for three years and was in Captain Thomas' 
company. Colonel Marshall's regiment. He was at the 
battle of Stillwater, the surrender of Burgoyne, and passed 
the winter at Valley Forge. Following the army in 1778 to 
New York on account of disability he was granted a leave of 
absence August 29, 1778, but was unable to rejoin the army. 
He removed to Ashburnham about 1810. 

Joseph Merriam, then of Lexington, served two months 
in Rhode Island in 1779. In the following year he was one 
of the six months' recruits in the continental army, being 
assigned to Colonel Marshall's regiment. This service was 
in New York. In 1781, he again enlisted by agreement 
with the town of Bedford, and counted on the quota of that 
town and was again assigned to the Northern army on the 
Hudson. He removed to Ashburnham at the close of the 
war and subsequently to Templeton. 

Asa Brocklebank, while residing in Rindge, served two 
enlistments. He removed to this town in 1777 and returned 
to Rindge after a residence here of several years. 

It is possible, and the conjecture is reasonable, that the 
names of some revolutionary soldiers, who resided in this 
town during the war or soon after removed hither, are not 
included in these pages. Indeed, it has been shown that 
there were demands for men and quotas were filled in 


several instances where only a part of the names could be 

The fact that there were more enlistments than are here 
recorded is additional credit to the town and augments its 
patriotic record. In the preceding chapter and in the fore- 
going record of service, nothing has been assumed. If 
service in the army was not sustained by the record it has 
been neither disputed nor asserted. It has now become 
a fact that the men of the Revolution who did not win 
the laurels of war by personal service have had them 
thrust upon them by the generous and applauding lips of 
tradition. The missing rolls of many Massachusetts regi- 
ments give unusual license to conjectural statements, but 
affirmative testimony is the prime requisite of historical 
statement. In every instance an honest eflbrt has been 
made to obtain all the available record on any subject, and 
while employing every established fact, the more fanciful 
narrative of tradition has always been heard with many 
grains of allowance ; and if for these substantial reasons the 
history of Ashburnham is not as extended as might be 
desired, it is mainly correct. 

The following statements made by the actors in the great 
drama of the Revolution were secured through the generous 
favors of Hon. Henry W. Blair, United States Senator from 
New Hampshire. These papers were received after the 
material for the preceding chapter collected from many 
sources had been arranged in the order of events. Of great 
interest in themselves they also sustain the outlines of the 
narrative to which they are subjoined. These papers, being 
the sworn statements of the revolutionary soldiers in support 
of their several applications for pension, are authentic 
accounts of their service. It is a matter of regret that the 
personal statement of all who bore arms in the war for 


independence are not preserved. It is suggested at once that 
only the younger soldiers were living at the time these appli- 
cations for pension were made. It also appears that some 
of the applicants gave only a partial account of the service 
performed. In such cases, doubtless, it was not deemed 
necessary to assert and prove more than one or two enlist- 
ments, and, scLzing upon those terms of service which could 
be most easily proved, no mention was made of additional 
service. Others, it will be observed, present a full account 
of each enlistment. 

Jonathan Gates, whose affidavit introduces these interest- 
ing accounts of personal service, was a son of Captain Jona- 
than Gates. When an infant, and previous to the date of 
incorporation, the family removed to this town. September 
11, 1832, at the age of seventy years, he says : 

I. He enlisted at Cambridge in April, 1775, in Captain David 
Wilder s company, of which Jonathan Gates, Sen., was lieutenant, 
in Colonel Asa Whitcomb's regiment, and marched from Cambridge 
to Prospect Hill where he remained during the eight months of his 
enlistment, and after the expiration of his time he volunteered to 
stay until new recruits came, and stayed there three months longer, 
making eleven months in all. 

II. In September, 1777, a short time before the taking of 
Burgoyne, enlisted at Ashburnham under Captain Jonathan Gates, 
Sen., for one month. Colonel Bellows commanded the regiment 
and we marched for the place when Burgoyne was taken near 
Beaman's Heights. 

III. Enlisted at Ashburnham soon after the taking of Bur- 
goyne, thinks it was in 1777, under Captain Whitney; marched 
to Castle William and was there three months on guard over 
prisoners from Burgoyne's army. 

IV. Enlisted at Ashburnham in 1778 or 1779 [it was in 
December, 1777] for three mouths under Captain Jonathan 
Gates, Sen., marched to Bound Brook, New Jersey, and remained 
there for the full term of his service. 



V. In 1780, or 1781 [it was in 1779], enlisted for six months 
at Ashburnham in Captain Fiske's company, in Colonel Jackson's 
regiment and remained there for his term of service. 

In 1833 Mr. Gates gives additional particulars of his last 
service and says, " That orders were received for a certain 
number of men to go to Rhode Island ; thought the number 
required of Ashburnham was seven, and he turned out as 
one of the seven. No officer but a sergeant went out with 
them. The sergeant was Joseph Stone. When they reached 
Providence, he was requested to go into Captain Fiske's 
company. He thinks that Captain Fiske's first name was 
Jared. He was not sure he had given the year correctly 
but it was when the British lay on Rhode Island. After 
about two months' service he was detailed with seventeen 
others, a lieutenant, one corporal and sixteen privates, to go 
on board a prison ship in which were thirty- two British 
prisoners ; the ship lay at Fox Point, below Providence. 
He was on this ship about six weeks and received a wound 
on his head by the breech of a musket. The prisoners rose 
upon them one night and got possession of some of the guns. 
He was struck on the head in coming up the hatchway and 
bore the marks then (1833) of the blow. They succeeded 
in getting the mastery over the prisoners without the loss of 
any lives on the part of the guard, but two of the prisoners 
were missing. Soon after this he was detailed with tAventy 
others to go to Bristol after hay for the continental horses. 
The hay was brought upon three boats, seven men to a boat, 
the whole under command of Lieutenant Nestle." 

He further alleges, "that he was born at Harvard Septem- 
ber 27, 1762, and lived at Ashburnham during the war." 
He moved to Salisbury, Xew York, 1798, to Antwerp, New 
York, 1815, and to Champion, New York, 1818. 


Jonathan Samsox, eldest son of Jonathan Samson, was 
born at Harvard, May 7, 1759. The family settled in this 
town previous to date of incorporation. His statement was 
made in this town September 6, 1832, in which he says : 

I. He enlisted in December, 1775, for six months and went to 
Roxbury, Massachusetts, and was put into the militia company 
of Captain Hill of Harvard. Thomas McBride of Boston was 
lieutenant and Samuel Sawin of Westminster was ensign. 

II. Again enlisted in early part of summer of 1776 for four 
and a half months and went to Dorchester, Massachusetts, and 
was put into militia company of Captain Manasseh Sawyer of 
Sterling. Samuel Sawin of Westminster was lieutenant and the 
ensign was Carter. He was employed the whole time in building 
forts at Dorchester Heights. 

III. Again enlisted in December, 1776, for three months in 
the last named company, and was stationed during this service at 
Dorchester Point near Boston. 

IV. He also entered the service in July or August, 1777, was 
called out. A detachment of Burgoyne's army had made an in- 
cursion into Vermont and a call was made on Ashburnham for 
volunteers to go to oppose this force. Says he marched with 
about twenty others. They went as far as Charlemont, Massa- 
chusetts, where they were ordered to wait further orders and while 
there the company was dismissed. They volunteered for one 
month but were out only about three weeks. 

V. Again enlisted in April, 1778, for three months in a militia 
company commanded b}^ Captain White of Lancaster, Massa- 
chusetts, and was stationed on Castle island in Boston harbor. 

VI. Again enlisted in July, 1780, for three months, and 
marched to West Point, New York, and on his arrival there was 
put in a company commanded by Captain Reed. The lieutenant 
was Brigham of Northborough, Massachusetts. Arnold had com- 
mand there during this time and his plot to surrender to the enemy 
was discovered during: this time. 



William Ward, of Ashburnham, says "that he served with 
the claimant during the last enlistment." 

John Hall, of Ashburnham, says that "he served with the 
claimant during the fifth service." 

EzEKiEL Shattuck Metcalf, a son of Joseph Metcalf, 
was born in Groton October 13, 1759. The family removed 
to Ashburnham, 1770. He died May 31, 1831. In support 
of the widow's application for a pension, the following state- 
ments were made at Ashburnham, August 26, 1839 : 

Eunice (Brooks) Metcalf, widow of Ezekiel Shattuck Metcalf, 
alleged that her husband served as an orderly sergeant and private 
in the war of the Revolution. She thinks that he served thirteen 
or fourteen months in all ; and that one terra was in Rhode Island 
and one at Roxbury, and that one of said services was rendered 
under Captain Gates and the other under Captain Jackson of 
Gardner. That later he rendered a service at Bennington at the 
time of the battle there in Captain Edgell's con^pany, and says she 
was in the field with her father and while there Metcalf came to 
the field, being on the way to the north part of Ashburnham, to 
warn some of the soldiers to go to Bennington. Says she was an 
inhabitant of Groton at the time when Metcalf rendered his first 
services, but that he resided at Ashburnham from early childhood 
to his death. 

Margaret (Metcalf) Townsend, widow of the elder Reuben 
Townsend, September 10, 1839, says she was a sister of Ezekiel 
Shattuck Metcalf, and that he being only sixteen years old served 
six weeks at Roxbury. Only four went from Ashburnham and 
her brother and her father were two of them. She remembers of 
preparing clothing for her brother and that he again entered the 
arm}^ for six months and served in Rhode Island. He left home 
then in the spring and while gone his tent was burned and he lost 
a part of his clothing and sent home for a new supply which we 
prepared and sent by my brother Samuel. He was an orderly 
sergeant in this service. She says her father and brother left for 


Roxbury on the six weeks' tour in the month of November or 
December, and that her father was a sergeant in the company at 
home, but not at Roxbury. 

Charles Hastings, of Ashburnham, March 10, 1840, alleges that 
he enlisted from Princeton, that he served six weeks in Rhode 
Island with Metcalf and was in another company of the same regi- 
ment, and that after the war he purchased a farm near Metcalf 
and the}^ often talked over their service. He had heard Metcalf 
say he was an orderly sergeant in that service. 

On file with these affidavits, there is an original order 
which was put in as evidence in the case. 

Ashburnham Jan'}^ 15 1782. 
To Mr. Capt. Benjamin Edgeal, 

Sir please to pay to the Barer the State pay for the sarvis I did 
in your company- in the year 1778 and this Resept shall be your 
distoro; for the same. 


Samuel Metcalf, a brother of Ezekiel, was born March 
15, 1761, and died December 25, 1822. The widow alleges 
"that he served in Captain Gates' company of Asa Whit- 
comb's regiment at the alarm April 19, 1775.'* If so, he 
was only fourteen years of age and his name does not appear 
on the rolls of the company. She was his second wife and 
was born in 1776, and possibly could be in error in regard 
to the events of the war. In the case are filed minutes from 
muster rolls which prove service of Samuel Metcalf in 
Captain Joseph Sargeant's company in Rhode Island, 1777 ; 
in Captain CoAvdin's company to reenforce the continental 
army in 1779 ; and his name appears on list of six months' 
recruits in 1780. In this case there was also filed an original 
order, as follows : 

Ashburnham July 3 1784. 

Sh': Please to pa}^ to Sewill Moore the whole of my conti- 
nental wages that is due me for three months service done in the 


year 1779 and this shall be your sufficient discharge for the same 
as will appear by the Captain's books. 

Attest: Rebecca Metcalf 

Sarah Winchester. 

It was represented in the preceding chapter that David 
Clark and his sons, David and Benjamin, were in the service 
much of the time during the war. The family removed from 
Concord to Ashburnham previous to 1765. 

David Clark, Jr., under date of April 14, 1818, testifies 
to one term of service. It is known that he was in the army 
at other times. He alleges that he served in the continental 
establishment from March, 1781, to December 24, 1783; 
first, in the company of Captain Kilby Smith in the Sixth 
Massachusetts Regiment, and then in the same company in 
the Second Massachusetts Regiment after the reduction of 
the Sixth, under Major Burnham, commandant. Clark's 
original discharge, signed by General Henry Knox, is on 
file, with his application for pension. In July, 1820, Clark 
made an additional statement in which he asserts, " he is a 
farmer in Ashburnham, has a wife Sarah, aged fifty-three 
years, whose health is good ; a daughter Grata, aged 
seventeen years, who is feeble ; a daughter Sally, sixteen 
years, who is in good health, and a son George Washington, 
aged eight years. These," he says, "are all the children who 
reside with me." 

David Chaffin, a son of Timothy Chaffin, was fourteen 
years of age in 1775 when the family removed from Harvard. 
Increasing in years and probably in stature, he became a 
soldier in 1777. He says : 

I. He was drafted in August, 1777, at Ashburnham for three 
months [his father was drafted and he went as a substitute], and 
marched to Bennington, thence to Stillwater and there joined the 


main army and remained there until Burgoyne surrendered ; then 
went to Half Moon, thence to Albany, and was there taken sick 
and was discharged by Major Rand and arrived home at Ashburn- 
ham, November 1. 

II. In June, 1778, was drafted at Ashburnham for six months ; 
marched to Providence, and from there into the Island, thence to 
Tiverton where he was discharged bj" Captain Edgell and arrived 
home January 4 or 5, 1779. 

III. In September, 1779, at Ashburnham, enlisted for three 
months, as a fatigue-man, under Captain Henrj^, marched to 
Boston, thence to Castle island and Governor's island, where he 
served out the time. 

IV. In 1780, enlisted at Ashburnham for six months ; marched 
under Captain King to Springfield and there joined the regiment 
commanded by Colonel Bradford and went to West Point and was 
one of the guard and within ten feet of Major Andre when he was 
executed. Remained there until discharged and reached home the 
last of December, 1780. 

Daniel Bond, then of Claremont, New Hampshire, in July, 
1833, testifies that "he sei-v^ed with Chaffin at Boston in 1779 
and also says that at one time Chaffin went for his father who 
had been drafted." 

Chaffin removed to Claremont, New Hampshire, soon after 
the Revolution and was residing there when his application 
for pension was made. 

Ebenezer Bennett Davis, son of Captain Deliverance 
Davis, was born in Littleton February 4, 1761. In his 
infancy the family removed to this town. His statement is 
brief but it includes three years of time and the service 
modestly stated was severe in the extreme. April 14, 1818, 
he alleges that " he enlisted in the continental establishment 
May 26, 1777, and served until May 26, 1780, in the 
company of Captain Haffield White in the Fifth Massachu- 


setts Regiment, commanded by Colonel Rufus Putnam in 
General Mxon's brigade." 

His original discharge is on file with his application. 

This certifies that Bennett Davis has served three years iu the 
fifth Massachusetts Regiment Being the full term of his Inlist- 
ment. Has conducted Himself as a good and faithful soldier and 
is hereby Discharged the Service. 

Given under My hand at Quarters Soldiers fortune this 26 day 

of May 1780. 


Capt. Com*^* 

He states in explanation that he was discharged in the 
Highlands in the State of New York and that he enlisted 
under the name of Bennett Davis, but that his full name is 
Ebenezer Bennett Davis. 

Isaac Merriam came to Ashburnham previous to 1774 
and remained a resident of this town until after the Revolu- 
tion. In 1833, then a resident of Northumberland, New 
Hampshire, alleges that he enlisted at Ashburnham and 
served three months at Boston harbor, does not remember 
the date. 

II. Again in 1779 enlisted at Ashburnham for six months in 
Captain Fiske's company in Rhode Island, and thinks the service 
commenced in the spring. When he had served three months, his 
brother David came and took his place as his substitute. 

III. Again enlisted at Ashburnham, he thinks in 1780, for six 
months ; did not remember whether he was then in the Continental 
or State Service. He marched to Springfield and then to West 
Point where he remained about a month and then marched into 
the Jerseys and was there when Arnold attempted to deliver up 
West Point and when Major Andre was hanged ; was there about 
a month or more and while there marched through a place called 
Topon or Tampacin and a place called English Neighborhood, also 


a place called Haverstraw. Afterwards he marched back to West 
Point and was there discharged. In this service he belonged to 
General Patterson's brigade and Colonel Bradford's reginaent. 
While he was at West Point two men were sentenced to be and 
were shot, he does not recollect for what, and two were condemned 
to run the gauntlet for forging discharges from General Poor and 
deserting. He saw the sentence executed. 

David Mereiam, a brother of Isaac Merriam, presents 
in 1832 the evidence of several enlistments. He was then 
living in Brandon, Vermont. 

I. He alleges that in 1776, then living at Ashburnham, he 
enlisted January 27, and marched to Dorchester and labored on 
the forts. The enem}' killed four men while he was at Dorchester. 
The next day they picked up one thousand four hundred balls. 
It was in March, a few days before they evacuated the place. 
Was discharged at Dorchester. 

II. In 1777, when they heard of Burgoyne's approach, he 
enlisted for two [one] months in Captain Gates' company of 
Colonel Bellows' regiment. We marched to Bennington but did 
not arrive until a day or two after the battle, then marched to 
Fort Edward where he joined the Rangers and joined the main 
army at Stillwater. He was again at Fort Edward, where he was 
discharged, at the time Burgoyne surrendered. 

III. In 1779, he again enlisted for three months in Captain 
Fiske's company and marched to Providence, thence to Bristol, 
and when the enemy left Newport the}- marched in. Was sick part 
of the time and was discharged after three months' service. [The 
name of Isaac Merriam is borne on the rolls from July, 1779, to 
January, 1780, which includes the service of the two brothers in 
this campaign.] 

It also appears that the attention of the claimant was 
called to the fact that in the first service at Dorchester his 
name was not borne on the roll of Captain Manasseh Sawyer's 


company after the last day of February, and that he made a 
subsequent statement in which he alleges : 

That he must have been in service at Dorchester in 1776, later 
than the last da}^ of February and that he was there in service 
when the British left Boston ; he saw them when they sailed out 
of the harbor and saw our officers enter the other side of the town ; 
this was the seventeenth of March. He might have been assigned 
to some other company but recollected that he was certainly there 
then. He says that one week before the British left he was a 
party of three hundred to go at night and build a fort on Dor- 
chester Point, next to Boston, and that the British discovered 
their object and kept up a constant cannonade all night and four 
men were shot dead by his side. 

" His attorne}'," he says, "put two services in 1777, for one 
month each together and called it one service of two months. 
That at the time of the battle of Bennington he was out one 
month and immediately after he was out one month and joined 
the army under General Gates, and that his captain in this service 
was Jonathan Gates." 

In support of the statement of the claimant in regard to 
his first enlistment, Jonathan Samson and Ebenezer Bennett 
Davis, "both of Ashburnham, alleged that they served with 
and were messmates of David Merriam at Dorchester in 
1776 in the company of Captain Manasseh Sawyer of 
Colonel Dyke's regiment." 

John Winter, a son of Andrew Winter, a name written 
Windrow in the early records of the town, was born March 
1, 1756, about two years before the family with other Ger- 
mans settled in Ashburnham. He died in this town June 
19, 1811. The widow made application for pension, pro- 
ducing copies from muster rolls to prove that he was in the 
continental army three years, having served in Captain Haf- 

field White's company of Colonel Putnam's regiment from 


May 26, 1777, to December 31, 1779, and continuously in 
the Light Infantry until May 26, 1780. The principal 
witness Margaret (Metcalf) Townsend alleges in 1846, 
" that she well recollects when John Winter went into the 
army as he was a near neighbor of her father and says that 
he with others who were fifoino^ into the service attended ser- 
vice the Sabbath before they left for the army and asked 
prayers in their behalf as was the custom of the time, and 
that when the said John Winter with Timothy Johnson, 
Ebenezer Bennett Davis and Thomas Ross returned from 
their three years' service, they again attended church and 
their names were read and thanks returned for their safe 
return which was customary at that time." 

William Ward was born in Waltham June 5, 1757, and 
came to this town when fifteen years of age with his older 
brother Caleb Ward. A few years later he purchased land 
in the northeast part of the town where he resided until his 
death. In the preceding chapter it appears that he com- 
pleted seven terms of service during the war. In his appli- 
cations for pension made in 1818, 1830 and 1833, he does 
not refer to his last enlistment and service under Captain 
Sibley in 1781, but his name appears on the muster roll. 
Mr. Ward and other soldiers in the company of Captain 
Gates in 1777 affirm that they were in the regiment of 
Colonel Benjamin Bellows, a New Hampshire regiment. It 
appears that this statement of Mr. Ward was questioned 
and he explains, at length, the circumstances of the case. 
This company from Ashburnham is not found in the rolls of 
Colonel Bellows' regiment. It is probable that Captain 
Gates' company, being suddenly called into the field, was 
not included in any regimental organization but was more 
closely allied to Colonel Bellows' regiment than to any 


I. Mr. Ward alleges that he enlisted May, 1776, for two 
months and served in a militia company commanded by Captain 
Sergeant of Princeton ; marched to Providence, thence to Boston 
Neck, thence back to Providence where he was discharged ; that 
while at Providence he labored on a fort at Beacon Hill. 

II. That in July, he thinks, 1777, he volunteered to oppose a 
detachment of the British army that was defeated at Bennington 
and at this time marched from Ashburnham to Charlemont, 
Massachusetts, where he remained about one month. He cannot 
recollect his officers for this tour of duty. [This service was 
under Captain Jonathan Gates.] 

III. That in September, he thinks, 1777, he again enlisted at 
Ashburnham for one month and served in a company of militia 
commanded by Captain Gates of Ashburnham in the regiment of 
Colonel Bellows of Walpole, New Hampshire ; marched through 
Charlemont, Williamstown, Massachusetts, and Bennington, 
Vermont, to Fort Edward, New York, where he remained until 
his discharge, and where he was at the time of Burgoyne's 

IV. That in the spring of 1778, April, he thinks, he enlisted 
for one month and served at Prospect Hill, near Boston, that he 
was engaged during this term in guarding prisoners, a part of 
Burgoyne's army, who were kept in the barracks at Prospect Hill. 
He did not remember his officers at this time. 

V. That he enlisted about the first of June, 1778, for a service 
of nine months in Captain William Warner's company of Colonel 
Marshall's regiment of General Patterson's brigade of Massachu- 
setts line and was discharged March 7, 1779. 

VI. That in the month of September, 1779, he thinks, he 
again entered the service for three months under the following 
circumstances : Francis Lane and Oliver Willard, two of the 
principal inhabitants of Ashburnham, requested him to enlist and 
as an inducement engaged to clear four acres of new land for him. 
He thinks that they were authorized by the town to offer such in- 
ducements. He served the three months at West Point in a com- 
pany commanded by Captain Burt of Harvard and Lieutenant 


Annanias Rand. Lieutenant Rand was cashiered, he thinks, for 
larceny. They marched from Ashburnham through Springfield 
and Hartford to West Point, New York. 

In the last statement explaining how he remembers about 
his service of thirty days at the time of the capture of 
Burgoyne in 1777 and how he remembers the name of 
Colonel Bellows of Walpole, New Hampshire, "I have 
good reason for remembering the name " which is as 
follows : 

" On the night previous to the surrender of Burgoyne, I was on 
guard with a 3"0ung man, about my own age, in the woods nearly 
half a mile from Fort Edward, at a quarter where it was feared 
the Indians might make an attack. In the course of the night I 
swapt guns with said young man. The next morning he came to 
see me wishing to ' swap back,' which I declined and he left me ; 
but fearing I might lose a good bargain I immediately exchanged 
the gun with one Gates, a brother of my captain. It was not long 
before this young man came with an officer who desired me to 
return the gun, and not being pleased with the replies I made, he 
left, and in a few minutes returned with a file of men and ordered 
me to the guard-house. This I remember was early in the after- 
noon and the news of Burgojme's surrender was received while I 
was thus confined. Our company was immediately dismissed and 
I was relieved from confinement by order of Major Bridge. The 
oflScer who came with the young man aforesaid, was Colonel Bel- 
lows, and he it was who ordered me to the guard-house. When 
we arrived at Fort Edward, Captain Gates told us we were to 
serve under New Hampshire officers and that the Colonel's name 
was Bellows. We were quartered in brush huts a short distance 
from Fort Edward, and were allowed to follow our inclinations 
with a few salutary restraints. I cannot remember that we were 
ever paraded or exercised with Colonel Bellows' regiment." 

Charles Hastings of Ashburnham, 1832, corroborates the 
statement of Ward in regard to the service in Captain Sar- 


gent's company in 1776 and says that he (Hastings) served 
in the same company. 

Jonathan Samson of Ashburnham, 1832, corroborates as 
to the last service of William Ward and says that he served 
at the same time and adds that about twenty men then 
volunteered from Ashburnham and served without pay or 
rations, volunteered for one month but served only about 
three weeks. 

Nicholas Whiteman of Ashburnham, 1832, corroborates 
the statement as to service at Fort Edward in 1777 under 
Captain Jonathan Gates, and says he (Whiteman) was in 
the same service, and also corroborates Ward's last state- 
ment and adds that he thinks about thirty volunteered from 
Ashburnham ; also says that they were paraded before 
Colonel Bellows and Major Bridge who furnished them with 
refreshments, said to have been taken from Burgoyne's 
boats as they were attempting to pass down the river. 

Edward Whitmore, youngest son of Joseph Whitmore, 
was born in Leominster, August 12, 1763. 

Soon after the removal of the family to this town he 
entered the army at the age of sixteen years. In the 
following statement he has given an intelligent account of 
his service. 

He sa3's that in September or October, 1779, he enlisted at 
Ashburnhani for three months with William Kendall, David 
Chaffin and Abraham Samson [it was probably Nathaniel Kendall 
and David Samson], being the number called for from Ashburn- 
ham. He marched directly to Boston with written instructions 
from his captain or from the selectmen (he could not say which) , 
to go to the State House in Boston ; when they arrived there they 
were ordered to Castle island ; there remained a short time, then 
went to Governor's island in the harbor of Boston, there emploj'ed 
in repairing the fort on Castle William and clearing the trenches 


at Governor's island under the command of Captain Wilson. The 
engineer's name who had charge of the works was Burbanks. He 
next enlisted for six months with six others, David Chaffin, Samuel 
Metcalf, Isaac Merriam, Jacob Rodiman, Simon Rodiman and 
Elijah Mason, in the month of June, 1780, marched from Ashburn- 
ham to Leicester ; there mustered, from thence to Springfield ; again 
mustered and put under command of one Captain Parker ; from 
thence to West Point ; there stationed a few days and then divided 
and sent to the several companies in which they were to serve. 
He was put into Captain King's company, Colonel Bradford and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Bassett, Fourteenth Massachusetts Regiment, 
Major Smith, General Patterson's brigade. Soon after he was 
placed under Captain King, the troops were called for to march to 
White Plains, cross from White Plains to Robinson's Farm ; there 
received counter-orders, and from thence to Verplank's Point, 
there one or two days, and from there across King's Ferry to 
Orangetown, he thinks ; from there to Totoway, Tunic Plains, 
Peramus and other places, and in the month of October or 
November marched to a place called New Windsor, above West 
Point ; there employed in taking care of what was called the Park, 
military stores and arms ; there about one month and then joined 
his regiment at the Highlands ; remained there about one week 
and then received his discharge. He well recollects Arnold's 
leaving West Point. Saw Major Andre executed, which he thinks 
took place at Paramus. 

Isaac Whitmore of Ashburnham, a brother of Edward 
Whitmore, says that Edward left their father's family in 
June, 1780, to join the continental army, and that about the 
first of January, 1781, "I went from home for the purpose 
of assisting my brother on his return to my father's and met 
him at Simsbury, Connecticut, as near as I can recollect." 

Reuben Rice was born in Lancaster, now Boylston, 
August 10, 1757. He served one term in the army after 
his removal to this town in 1780. 


I. He alleges be was drafted at Lancaster in November or 
December, 1776, for tbree montbs and served in tbe company of 
Captain Eager of Sterling. Tbey proceeded to Bound Brook, 
New Jerse}', by way of Worcester, Danbury and Morristowu, 
crossing the river at King's Ferry. That their duty was to protect 
the person and property of the inhabitants from plunder and insult 
by detachments from the British army which lay near b3^ They 
also had about a dozen prisoners of war under guard. 

II. In September, 1777, again enlisted in the militia company 
of Captain Boynton of Winchendon, where he then resided, for 
the term of one month. They marched to Saratoga by way of 
Northfield and Bennington, then went up the river to Fort 
Edward, then down the river a few miles. This last move was 
near the time of Burgoyne's surrender. He saw the arms of the 
enemy stacked on the field after they had marched oflE" and saw a 
party of Canadians start for Canada after the surrender. 

III. In July, 1780, again enlisted in a militia company of 
Captain Boutelle of Leominster, of Colonel Rand's regiment. 
Marched to West Point where he remained during this term of 
three months' service. During this service, Arnold attempted to 
betray the American army. 

Eliakim Eice of Hai-tland, Vermont, a brother of Eeuben 
Rice, testifies that " both were in the service at about the 
same time but not in the same company." 

Thomas Gibson of Ashburnham testifies to service with 
Reuben Rice at West Point in Captain Boutelle's company. 

Dr. Abraham Lowe gives an intelligent outline of his 
service under date of October 16, 1832. 

I. He alleges that about December 1, 1775, he entered service 
as a volunteer in the militia company of Captain William Pope, 
the lieutenant being Thomas Hartwell, he thinks. He enlisted 
from Lunenburg and marched to Dorchester and remained in that 
service for two months, although the enlistment was for six weeks 


II. He enlisted about July 1, 1776, for five months, from 
Lunenburg in militia company of Captain Jabez Keep of Harvard. 
He marched to New Haven, went thence by water to New York 
city ; was there when the city was taken by the British under com- 
mand of General Fellows. He was on guard near the Bowerj^ on 
the morning when the British landed above there and took pos- 
session of the cit}'. General Putnam came to their assistance and 
took them away. He was discharged about December 1, 1776. 

III. In summer of 1777, it being reported that the Hessian 
troops were marching on Bennington, he volunteered under Daniel 
or David Carlisle of Lunenburg. Thej' marched to Charlemont, 
where they heard of the battle of Bennington and went no farther. 
After a service of about a month, he returned home. 

Joseph Jewett in his application for pension only asserts 
one enlistment and that in concise terms. He says that 
while residing in Bolton he enlisted in the month of May or 
June, 1778, in Captain John Drury's company of Colonel 
Woods' regiment. He proceeded to White Plains with a 
small party and there joined his company ; was on duty at 
Fishkill and White Plains and employed during the winter 
in building barracks and drawing timber. He was dis- 
missed at Peekskill after he had completed his tour of eight 

After his death the widow made a renewed application for 
pension and said her husband did not state all of his service 
when he applied for pension. At that time she presented 
proof of other service which is stated in a former paragraph* 

Eeuben Townsend was born in Shrewsbury August 23, 
1758, where he continued to reside until he removed to this 
town about 1780. 

I. He alleges that in June or July, 1776, he enlisted in Cap- 
tain Newton's company of Colonel Smith's regiment, for five 
months, and was discharged at Philips Manor, New York, in 
December, 1776, or January, 1777. 


II. In 1777, he enlisted in Captain William Gates' company 
of Colonel Bigelow's regiment — the Fifteenth Massachusetts — 
for eight months, and was discharged at Valley Forge with an 
allowance for pay for nine months. 

Lieutenant Joseph Pierce certifies that he enlisted Reuben 
Townsend about the first of May, 1777, in the continental 
service for the term of eight months and that he was allowed 
one month's extra pay for helping build the barracks at 
Valley Forge and that after discharge the said Townsend 
had to march nearly four hundred miles before he reached 
his home. 

Lemuel Stimsox was born in Weston, July 11, 1758, 
and removed to this town in 1780. In his application for 
pension dated October 16, 1832, — 

He alleges that he enlisted while residing in Weston, in May, 
1775, for eight months, in the company of Nathan Fuller of New- 
ton, in Colonel Gardner's regiment ; that he was stationed at 
Cambridge during the entire service, and was engaged in the 
battle of Bunker Hill, and that Colonel Gardner was wounded 
in said battle and died the third day after, and Colonel Bond of 
Watertown succeeded Colonel Gardner. 

II. He enlisted again in June or July, 1776, for five months, in 
the company of Captain Charles Miles of Concord, in Colonel 
Reed's regiment, and marched to Ticonderoga, by way of Fitch- 
burg, Winchendon, Keene, Charlestown (No. 4) and Rutland ; 
was stationed at Ticonderoga nearly all of the service, often em- 
ployed in transporting wood across the lake for the use of the 
army, and was discharged at Albany in November, was also 
residing at Weston at time of last service. 

Jonas Rice, a son of Zebulon Rice and a brother of 
Reuben and Eliakim Rice, was born in Lancaster, now 
Boylston, February 16, 1754. At the time of his first ser- 
vice he was residing in Salem and the subsequent service 


was performed while he was a resident of Sterling. He 
removed to this town, 1779. 

I. He alleges that he enlisted April 19, 1775, in a company of 
volunteers, at Salem, commanded by Captain Derby and marched 
to Cambridge. After a week of service he enlisted at Cambridge 
for eight months in the company of Captain John Bachelor of 
Colonel Bridge's regiment. [This company was engaged in the 
battle of Bunker Hill.] He was stationed during all of this ser- 
vice on Cambridge common at the house of one Hastings ; that he 
was emplo3^ed under General Putnam in an attempt to construct a 
fort on Lechmere Point, from which they were driven by British 
ships. , 

II. He again enlisted in the summer of 1776, for five months 
in militia company of Captain Samuel Sawyer. Marched from 
Sterling through Worcester, Hartford and New Haven to New 
York city ; remained a few days in New York and then moved up 
the Hudson about two miles ; was on duty at Fort Prescot when 
the city of New York was given up to the British. He then 
moved up to Harlem Heights where he remained through the rest 
of this service. 

III. He again enlisted about July 1, 1777, for six months in 
militia company of Captain Francis Willson of Holden, Colonel 
Keyes' regiment. He marched to Leicester, thence to Providence, 
thence to a place about two miles south of Greenwich, thence 
through Warren to Tiverton and thence back to Providence. 
During this term of service he went to Point Judith to assist in 
collecting boats to be used in an attack on Newport. In sailing 
around the point many of the boats were destroyed, eight men 
drowned and the contemplated attack was abandoned. 

Eliakim Rice, brother of Jonas, of Hartland, Vermont, 
but formerly of Salem, testifies that he served with his 
brother in the first service named commencing April 19, 


Jabez and Oliver Marble were twins and their service 
in the army partook of the close alliance of their lives. 
They were born in Stow September 15, 1755, and removed 
to Ashburnham 1789. 

I. Jabez Marble alleges that in the fall after the British left 
Boston he went to Roxbury and took the place of his brother as a 
private soldier in Captain Caleb Brooks' company of Colonel 
Benjamin Dyke's regiment, and served a tour of three months at 
Boston and was verbally discharged on the seventh of March, 

II. In May, 1777, he enlisted for two months in Captain John 
Oleason's company. Marched from Stow to Providence where he 
was stationed until about seventeen days before his time was out, 
when his company and Captain Hodgman's marched to Greenwich 
for the defence of the coast ; remained there about two weeks and 
then returned to Providence where he was discharged. 

III. He again enlisted at Stow in August, 1780, in company 
of Captain Moses Brintnall of Sudbury, Colonel Howe's regiment. 
He went to Rhode Island and was stationed the entire three 
months at Butt's Hill and was employed on fatigue duty building 
a fort. 

In a subsequent statement explaining his service as sub- 
stitute for his brother he says that his brother's name was 
Oliver Marble ; they were twins and that about two months 
prior to the end of Oliver's term of service his brother 
became sick and he took his place for the balance of the 
term and always answered to his brother Oliver's name 
when it was called. 

Thomas Gibson was born in Lunenburg, now Fitchburg, 
1753, and resided there until the close of the war. After a 
temporary residence in Ashby he removed to this town, pre- 
vious to 1787. 

I. He alleges that he enlisted in the spring of 1775, for five 
months in Captain Stearns' militia company in Colonel Doolittle's 


regiment. He lived at Fitchburg and marched thence to Winter 
Hill near Charlestown where he remained during the term of 
service. There were also continental troops at Winter Hill. 

II. He again enlisted in September, 1776, at Fitchburg for 
two mouths in Captain Jonathan Woods' militia company of 
Colonel Converse's regiment. He marched to Dobb's Ferry, near 
West Point, passing through New Haven. Made several marches 
from Dobb's Ferry, one to Fairfield, Connecticut, towards New 
York cit}^, etc. There were continental troops at Dobb's Ferry a 
part of the time while he was there. He remembers that on one 
occasion they brought a field-piece to bear upon a vessel at anchor 
off Dobb's Ferry and drove her down the river. 

III. Again in July, 1780, he enlisted at Fitchburg for three 
months in the militia company of Captain Boutelle of Leominster 
of Colonel Rand's regiment. Marched through Worcester, 
Hartford and Fairfield to West Point. Arnold's treachery was 
discovered during this term of service, which enables him to fix 
the year as 1780. He saw Washington at West Point shortly 
after Arnold's treason was made known, that he was on guard 
when Washington rode up. 

IV. In September, 1777, he thinks, he enlisted and served 
thirty days at the taking of Burgoyne in the militia company of 
Captain Thurlow of Fitchburg ; was posted first at Eatterskill and 
after at Fort Edward to prevent the British crossing the Hudson. 

V. In April or May, the year he does not recollect, but thinks 
it was towards the close of the war, he enlisted for three months 
in the militia company of Captain Joshua Martin of Lunenburg 
and served at Castle William in Boston harbor, in the regiment of 
Colonel Jones. There were continental troops on the island who 
were quartered in the fort and militia were outside in barracks. 

Reuben Rice of Ashburnham testifies that he served with 
Thomas Gibson from July, 1780, in Captain Boutelle's com- 

Ebenezer Wallis of Ashburnham testifies that he served 
with Thomas Gibson in the tour from September, 1780, at 
West Point. 


; Charles Hastings was born in Princeton, November 26, 
1760, and removed to this town, 1783. While a resident of 
Princeton, he entered the army five times. • September 6, 
1832, he gave the following intelligent account of his 
service : 

I. He alleges that he enlisted in May, 1776, for two months 
in a militia company commanded by Captain Sargeant of Princeton 
in the regiment of Colonel Josiah Whitney. He marched to 
Leicester, thence to Providence, thence to Greenwich, Rhode 
Island, thence to Boston Neck, and thence back to Providence. 

II. He again enlisted at Leicester in June, 1777, for six 
months in Captain Willson's company of Colonel Keyes' regiment. 
He marched to Providence, thence to Greenwich, he thinks, thence 
to Bissell's mill, about two miles from Providence, and thence 
back to Providence. That during these two terms, there were 
only a few troops in Rhode Island and thej^ were employed in 
guarding the coast. 

III. He again enlisted about April 1, 1778, in militia company 
of Captain Nathan Harrington. Marched to Roxbury and thence 
to Watertown where they were employed in guarding a part of the 
prisoners from Burgoyne's army. Marched from Watertown with 
prisoners to Rutland, where they remained guarding said prisoners 
to July, 1778, when he was discharged. The guard was com- 
manded by Major Reuben Reed. 

IV. He again immediately enlisted July, 1778, for six months, 
in the militia company of Captain Belknap of Colonel Wade's 
regiment. Marched to Providence, thence to Obdike Newtown, 
or a place of some similar name ; thence to Newport where they 
joined a continental brigade. Engaged in the battle of Newport 
in October, 1778, and retired from there to Tiverton, thence to 
Obdike Newtown and thence to Providence. 

V. He again enlisted about July 1, 1780, for six months for 
service in continental army. He was ordered to Springfield and 
then marched to West Point and joined a company in Colonel 


Greaton's regiment of General Nixon's brigade. Soon after was 
transferred to the Light Infantry under General Lafayette, Cap- 
tain Haskell's company and Colonel Gimmatt's regiment with 
which he continued to the fall of 1780, when he returned to his 
former company from which he was discharged. 

William Ward testifies to service with Charles Hastings 
from May, 1776, in Captain Sargent's company. 

Jonas Eice of Ashburnham testifies to service with Charles 
Hastings in Captain Willson's company from June, 1777. 
Says that Avhile at Providence they were quartered in the 

Joseph Gibbs, son of Joseph and Hannah (Howe) Gibbs, 
was born October 12, 1756. During the Revolution, he 
resided in Princeton and removed to this town previous to 
1786. Commencing in May, 1775, he served eight months 
in the siege of Boston in the company of Captain Adam 
Wheeler in Colonel Doolittle's regiment. Seven companies 
of Colonel Doolittle's regiment, including the company of 
Captain Wheeler, were engaged in the battle of Bunker Hill, 
and of the regiment nine were wounded. The name of 
Joseph Gibbs, of Princeton, is borne on the rolls of those 
who served eight months in the siege of Boston. Many in 
this service reenlisted and served under Washington at New 
York, but the date of his return to Princeton does not appear. 
In July, 1780, he enlisted for three months in the company 
of Captain Ephraim Stearns in Colonel John Rand's regiment. 
This service was at West Point and King's Ferry and a part 
of the time under the immediate command of Washington. 
In the same service was Jonathan Samson, Andrew Winter, 
Jr., Thomas Gibson, Ebenezer Wallis and Reuben Rice, who 
were subsequently his neighbors in Ashburnham. 

David Wallis was born in Lunenburg October 15, 1760. 
He removed to this town about 1795, where he resided until 
his death. 


I. He alleges that in September, 1777, he enlisted in a com- 
pany of militia under Captain Bellows and he thinks Colonel 
Bellows of Walpole, New Hampshire, was in command of the 
regiment. He enlisted for one month, marched to Fort Edward 
via Northfield and Bennington and was there when Burgoyne 

II. In April, 1778, he enlisted at Lunenburg in militia com- 
pany of Captain Merick of Princeton of Colonel Stearns' regi- 
ment for three months. Marched to Dorchester and then to 
Castle William in Boston harbor. There were two companies of 
militia and one of continental artillery on the island. 

III. In April, 1779, he enlisted at Lunenburg for three 
months in Captain Joshua Martin's company of Colonel Jones' 
regiment and served at Castle William. The}^ were employed in 
building fortifications. During this service the artiller}^ company 
was ordered to Rhode Island for a few days. He was ordered 
several times to Governor's island. 

Nicholas Whiteman of Ashburnham testifies that he served 
with David Wallis, on Castle island from April, 1778. 

Thomas Gibson of Ashburnham testifies to service with 
David Wallis in Captain Martin's company in 1779 at Castle 

Cyrus Fairbanks was born in Harvard, May 29, 1752, 
and removed to Ashbm^nham, 1788, where he died at the 
advanced age of one hundred years, June 18, 1852. He 
gives an account of three terms of service while residing in 

I. He alleges that on April 19, 1775, then residing in Harvard, 
he volunteered to oppose the British then marching on Concord. 
He proceeded to Concord and thence to Cambridge. After 
remaining there about a week enlisted as a drummer for eight 
months in the Massachusetts militia company of Captain Jonathan 
Davis in Colonel Asa Whitcomb's regiment and served out full 


term. He was first quartered on Cambridge river about a mile 
from the college and afterward on Prospect Hill. 

n. In the month of September, 1776, he again enlisted at 
Harvard for two months as a drummer in the militia company of 
Captain Hill of Colonel Converse's regiment. Marched via Worces- 
ter, New Haven, Fairfield and White Plains to Dobb's Ferry, 
where he remained until his time was out. He says he served as 
drum-major during this term. The regiment was employed in 
transporting supplies up. the river. 

ni. In the month of September, 1777, when Burgoyne was 
advancing he enlisted at Harvard for one month. Marched to 
Petersham where his company was organized and he chosen 
<3orporal in militia company of Captain Hill, he thought. He 
marched to Fort Edward passing through Bennington ; remained 
in service entire term of his enlistment. 

Joshua Fletcher was born in Westford February 22, 
1760, and removed to this town about 1810. He was a 
resident of Westford durins: the followins^ service : 

I. He alleges that he first entered service for seven months 
in Captain Abisha Brown's company of Colonel Whitney's regi- 
ment of Massachusetts forces and served at Nantasket island in 
the harbor of Boston to the end of his term. 

II. He next served at Boston three months under Captain 
John Minot. 

III. He next entered the army on the continental establish- 
ment, February, 1777, for three years and was mustered at 
Boston and proceeded in Captain Philip Thomas' company of 
Colonel Marshall's regiment of Massachusetts line to Ticonderoga 
and was at Fort Miller, Saratoga, Valley Forge and White Plains. 
He served one year and eight months when he was taken sick 
with a fever and a sore on his breast and was furloughed until he 
•should recover. He did not recover until after the close of the 
war and was never able to rejoin the army. The following is a 
copy of the leave granted. 


Camp at White Plains, August 29, 1778. 
His excellency approves that Joshua Fletcher, soldier in Col. 
Thomas Marshall's regiment of Massachusetts Bay State shall 
have leave of absence until the recovery of his health and spirits 
and then to return to his duty. 

The Baron de Kalb 
M. G^ 

Joseph Merriam was born in Woburn February 3, 1763, 
and lived in Lexington and Bedford during the war. It 
appears that he removed from Bedford to Ashburnham 1784, 
and remained several years when he removed to Templeton 
and subsequently returned to Ashburnham. 

I. He alleges that in the fall of 1779 he enlisted for two 
months in company of Captain Samuel Heald of Carlisle in 
Colonel John Jacob's regiment. He marched to Providence 
where they encamped about three weeks and then marched to 
Tiverton and when the British left Rhode Island they went over 
Howland's Ferry to Butt's Hill where he remained until dis- 
charged in November, 1779. 

II. In 1780 he enlisted for six months in Lieutenant-Colonel 
Thompson's company as it was called, but it was commanded by 
Ensign Thayer, in Colonel Marshall's regiment — the Tenth Massa- 
chusetts. He joined the regiment at West Point where they were 
encamped for nearly three weeks, when he was detached with 
several others to King's Ferry and put under the orders of 
Colonel Brewer and employed in conveying troops and baggage 
over the river, after which he joined his regiment at Verplank's 
Point and proceeded with his regiment to New Jersey and after 
serving out his six months was discharged at West Point in 
January, 1781. 

III. In 1781 the town of Bedford hired him to go into the 
continental service for three months. He was mustered in, he 
thinks, by Colonel Brown of Tewksbury and then proceeded to 
New York State and joined the army at Gallows Hill. He was 




immediately put under orders of Colonel Procter, a militia officer, 
and went about seven miles to one Captain Knapp's farm to 
guard cattle, where he remained about three weeks when he 
returned to camp and was taken by Major Keyes, who was a 
deputy-quartermaster-general in care of forage, as his waiter. He 
was stationed at Peekskill and his quarters were near General 
Heath's. He remained on this duty during the remainder of his 

Some of the revolutionary soldiers to whom pensions were 
granted had died before the date of any complete list that ha& 
been discovered. In 1840 there were remaining in this town 
thirteen revolutionary soldiers and three widows of soldiers 
who were pensioned. 

Cyrus Fairbanks survived his venerable associates. 

Lemuel Stimson 

Charlotte Lowe, widow of Dr. Lowe, 

Thomas Gibson 

David Clark 

Joshua Fletcher 

Jabez Marble 

Joseph Jewett 

Zilpah Rice, widow of Jonas Rice, 

John Bowman 

William Ward 

Jonathan Samson 

Margaret Townsend, widow of Reuben 

Isaac Whitmore 
Joseph Merriam 
Charles Hastings 
Cyrus Fairbanks 





September 22, 1840 

May 5, 1841 

June 11, 1841 

July 5, 1841 

April 14, 1843 

December 23, 1843 

May 3, 1847 

July 22, 1847 

October 22, 1847 

December 3, 1847 

December 9, 1847 

March 20, 1848 

May 2, 1848 

April 4, 1849 

November 28, 1850 

June 18, 1852 







At the close of the Eevolution the situation of the country 
was perilous and critical. The difficulties of a public nature 
were changed in character by the close of the war but were 
not removed and peace brought no immediate relief to the 
financial difficulties which had attended the prosecution of 
the war. The resources of the State were exhausted while 
the towns were gi'oaning under the burden of debt. In the 
extremity of the hour, the most oppressive systems of taxa- 
tion were adopted, and if strenuous measures were demanded 
by the necessities of the times they did not put money in the 
purse of the tax-payer. In continued efforts to pay the taxes 
incident to the times, individuals had suffered their liaMlities 
to accumulate and creditors, seizing upon the agency of new 
laws and reestablished courts, resorted to legal process in the 
collection of debts. The tax collector had scarcely drained 
the scanty income of the farm before the sheriff armed with 
executions demanded the remaining cow and frequently the 
homestead. For a season the wisdom of statesmen and a 
multitude of laws brought no relief. 



During the continuance of the war, without matured forms 
of government or systems of laws, the people had been 
united and held together in a common purpose. With free- 
dom came new responsibilities and grave embarrassments. 
The government was new and unfamiliar to the people, and 
at first they came in contact with the harsher and more 
exacting features of the laws. To them the new laws were 
little more than a code for the collection of debts and the 
courts were an "agency for the oppression of the poor. Feel- 
ing the weight of their burdens and not apprehending their 
cause, the people became dissatisfied with their government 
and the oflScers chosen to administer it. The murmur of 
discontent was heard on every hand, but the unsatisfactory 
state of public affairs and the uncertainty of the future were 
only shadows in the deeper gloom of the poverty and debt in 
their homes. The people had bravely endured extreme 
hardships and now victorious in the field they were sadly 
disappointed with the early fruits of a freedom which had 
been secured by their service and sacrifice. For a season the 
destiny of the republic was evenly balanced between revolt 
inviting anarchy and liberty restrained by law. In common 
with the people at large the inhabitants of this town shared 
in the gloom and burdens of the hour, but through discour- 
agement they did not lose faith in the final success of the 
government or countenance any disorderly conduct. The 
revoffc under the leadership of Shays, Day and Shattuck was 
encouraged by the active and open support of many in this 
vicinity, but there is no evidence that any citizen of this town 
was ever found within the ranks of open revolt. 

The theatre of Shays' rebellion was wholly outside of 
Ashburnham. A complete history of that ill-advised and 
irrational revolt would contain little, if any, reference to the 
people or the sentiment of this town. The compliment is 


almost reciprocal, and these pages would contain no refer- 
ence to the riotous proceedings if it could be shown that the 
inhabitants of Ashburnham, surrounded by the same diffi- 
culties and suffering the same hardships, did not give any 
expression of sympathy to the movement, or utter any com- 
plaints against the heavy burdens which oppressed the 
Commonwealth. It is reasonably certain that none from 
this town joined the revolt. And while there is no proof 
that any considerable portion of the inhabitants were in 
sympathy with it, there is evidence that they seriously 
considered the state of existing affairs. Yet their voice was 
not raised until the rebellion was crushed and the govern- 
ment left at liberty to answer their complaint. On the 
fourteenth of March, 1787, a full month after, the only 
remaining remnant of the revolt was dispersed at Petersham, 
the town met in a legal meeting. 

To see if the town will take any method to become acquainted 
with the minds of our fellow citizens in this commonwealth con- 
cerning the choice of our officers to be emploj^ed in government 
the present year or pass any vote or votes that the town shall 
think proper under said article. 

To see if it is any mind of the town that there is any matter of 
grievance worthy of notice which we suffer by reason of the 
present administration of government, and if it is the minds of 
the town that there is matter of grievance to see what method the 
town will take for redress of said grievance. 

Voted to send a man to Worcester to meet other towns and 
chose M"^ Jacob Willard. 

It was moved to see if it was the mind of the town that there is 
matter of grievance that the people labor under and it passed in 
the affirmative. 

The town having chosen Jacob Willard to represent them 
at the approaching session of the General Court, met again 


in May to give their representative instruction, whereupon 
it was ordered that he be instructed : 

1^* To have the general court moved out of Boston. 

2*^ To Endeavor that the Courts of Common Pleas be 

3^ To Endeavor that the salary men be lowered. 

4th -pQ prevent if possible a paper currency. 

5"' To continue the Tender Act for another year. 

6*^ To Endeavor that a free pardon be held out to all those 
persons that have taken up arms against the government. 

These instructions are simply a brief statement of the 
most prominent measures that were being advanced by 
many as a remedy for existing grievances. And while the 
Legislature was not removed from Boston, the salary of one 
officer, the governor, was reduced and a bill providing for 
a new emission of paper money was defeated. On the last 
of these instructions the town again took action at the next 
meeting. "Chose Jacob Willard, Joshua Holden and 
Captain Daniel Putnam to draft a petition requesting the 
governor and council to further reprieve or pardon Captain 
Job Shattuck and others now under sentence of death and 
that the petition be signed by the inhabitants individually." 
There were fourteen persons under sentence of death and 
among them Job Shattuck who was captured in the early 
progress of the revolt at his home in Groton. 

In all of these proceedings of the town there is no exhibit 
of temper nor any apparent failure of candid consideration. 
The instructions to their representative are moderate and 
from their standpoint not unreasonable, and their request 
for an amelioration of the sentence of Shattuck and others 
mio^ht have been attended with censure of their riotous 
conduct. At all events the persons under sentence were 


pardoned by those who had less reason for the exercise of 

In the records for the year 1787 and again the following 
year is entered at length the formal oath of allegiance pre- 
scribed in the Constitution of the State and to it is sub- 
scribed the names of the selectmen, assessors, treasurer and 
constables of each year. The town that took this precaution 
to restrain insubordination and to secure a firmer loyalty to 
the State and the men who voluntarily subscribed their 
names to that form of an oath will never be suspected of 
being in sympathy with the revolt. If they petitioned for 
the pardon of the rebels it was more in the spirit of forgive- 
ness and charity than from any existing or former approval 
of their conduct. The vote of the town for governor for 
four years commencing 1783 was substantially unanimous 
for James Bowdoin who was the representative of the law 
and order party. During these disturbances it is evident 
that the controlling element and the voice and influence of 
the town did not fail in the maintenance of an orderly con- 
duct and of a firm loyalty to the State. While the revolt 
was sustained in other places our fathers assembled in the 
meeting-house Wednesday, January 17, 1787, and listened 
to a sermon by Mr. Gushing from the text, "That there be 
no breaking in nor going out, that there be no complaining 
in our streets. Happy is that people that is in such a case." 

This was a season of great excitement. The laws were 
openly violated and defied in many places. The inhabitants 
of Ashburnham, impatient of the delay of a legal meeting, 
held informal meetings the following Friday and Monday. 
A company of thirteen men marched to the assistance of 
the militia. The details of this voluntary service are 
recorded in a diary kept many years by Isaac Stearns from 
which the following extracts are transcribed. 


Thursday^ January 18, 1787. I went to town to training or 
rather to try to get men to go to Worcester. 

Friday. I went up to town meeting. 

Monday. I went to town meeting. 

TJiursday. I went to town to see about getting men to go 
against the insurgents. 

Friday, January 26, 1787. I set out with thirteen men and 
lodged at Richardson's in Leominster. 

Saturday. Lodged at Patch's in Worcester. 

Sabbath night. Lodged in Spencer at one Jenks. 

Monday night. At Bugbee's in Brimfield. 

Tuesday night. At Burt's in Springfield and 

Wednesday night, also at Burt's. 

TJiursday, February 1. We marched through Chicopee, a 
parish of Springfield, to South Hadley and lodged at one 

Friday night. I was on guard. 

Saturday night. About ten o'clock we marched from South 
Hadley to Amherst and made a little halt. 

Sabbath, Feby 4. Marched through South Barre and lodged 
in Petersham. 

Monday. Marched to Barre and lodged at Capt. Henry's. 

Tuesday. Marched to Oakham and back to Henry's in Barre. 

Wednesday. We exercised. 

Thursday. I went about four miles after insurgents. 

Friday. I chopped wood for Capt. Henry, at night I mounted 

Saturday. Came off guard. Afterwards did some writing. 

Sabbath, February 11. I went to Barre meeting. Mr. Dana 
preached from Psalms 97:1. In the afternoon we marched from 
Capt. Henry's to Dr. Strickland's who lived in one Nurse's house 
in Barre. 

Monday. I walked down to Esqr Caldwell's. 

Tuesday. I went on guard. 

Wednesda'/. I came from guard. At eight o'clock at night 
we marched from Barre to Hardwick in water up mid leg and in 


the rain and came to one Haskell's in Hardwick and there remain- 
ing part of the night, tarried Thursday ; and Friday in the fore- 
noon I chopped wood for Mr. Haskell. In the afternoon we 
marched back to Barre. 

Saturday. I looked after Dr. Strickland's cattle. 

Sabbath, February 18. I went on guard ; came off Monday. 

Tuesday. I went to Esqr Caldwell's and read in Worcester 
Magazine ; afterwards drinked some cider and returned to my 

Wednesday. We marched to Rutland ; there we were dis- 
missed, about noon we set out and came through Princeton, a 
part of Hubbardstou and through Westminster to Col. Rand's 
where the men lodged, but I came to Lieut. Munroe's in 

Thursday. I came home. 

This was a bloodless yet an industrious campaign. From 
a military standpoint the results, so far as we know, were 
not particularly decisive, but as an exponent of the prevail- 
ing sentiment of the town at a season of discontent our little 
army of invasion made a most cheerful campaign, and as 
volunteers in the cause of law and order their service must 
be accredited to a patriotic impulse which commands our 
willing esteem. 

In 1778 a Constitution for "the State of Massachusetts 
Bay " was submitted for the approval of the people and by 
them rejected. The necessity for a more stable and com- 
prehensive form of government remained. In 1779 the 
General Court passed a resolve calling upon the voters to 
decide whether they would instruct their representatives to 
call a State convention to prepare and submit for their 
approval a form of Constitution. A convention was ordered 
and the Constitution then prepared was ratified by the people 
in 1780. In these proceedings the following votes will 
reflect the sentiment of this town. 


May 7, 1779. Voted to have a new form of government as 
soon as may be. Also that our representative vote to have a 
State convention called for that purpose. 

William Whitcomb was the representative at the time this 
vote was passed. There is no record of the choice of a dele- 
gate to the constitutional convention. 

May 31, 1780. Voted to accept of the form of government as 
it now stands all except three articles. Accepted unanimously. 
The articles accepted against are the following : The third in the 
bill of rights, forty-seven for it as it now stands, and twelve 
against ; — Chapter 2, Section first, article seventh, accepted with 
this amendment : — That the Governor by advice of his council 
have power to march the miUtia to any one of the neighboring or 
adjoining States in case of invasion in the recess of the General 
Court. Chapter first, section third, article fourth : — Two persons 
against it as it now stands. 

The persons dissatisfied with the third article of the bill 
of rights were the Baptists who contended that there was 
injustice in the conditions which required them to contribute 
to the support of the standing or Congregational order unless 
they were members of some other society. 

A convention of delegates was assembled in Boston in 
January, 1788, to cast the vote of Massachusetts on the 
question of the acceptance of the Constitution of the United 
States. The town of Ashburnham was represented in that 
distinguished body by Jacob Willard. While a majority of 
the convention finally cast the vote of Massachusetts in favor 
of the adoption of the Constitution, only seven of the fifty 
delegates from Worcester county voted in the aflSrmative. 
The name of Mr. Willard is found with the majority from 
this county. 


In 1795, the town voted unanimously that it was inex- 
pedient to revise the Constitution of the State, but in 1820, 
the town by a vote of sixty -three to seventeen deemed 
it expedient to call a convention for revision. In both 
instances the town voted with a majority of the whole vote 
of the State. In the convention which was assembled at this 
time the town was represented by Silas Willard. Of the 
fourteen proposed amendments the people of the State ratified 
nine. They are the numbers I to IX of amendments to the 
Constitution. The town of Ashburnham voted in the affirma- 
tive on all the proposed amendments except the fifth. This 
was one of the five which was rejected. The amendments, 
numbered X, XI, XII and XIII, were proposed by the 
Legislature and ratified by the people without the interven- 
tion of a convention. The votes of the people of this town 
were as follows : 



Affirmative, 104 

Negative, 2 













In 1851, a proposition to call a convention for revision 
was submitted to the people and defeated. The vote of this 
town was 183 in favor of a convention and 138 opposed. 
The third convention of delegates was assembled 1853. In 
the preliminary vote 220 desired to call the convention and 
118 were willing to continue the constitution without change. 
The measure having received a sufficient number of votes, 
the town was called upon to make choice of a delegate. 
Simeon Merritt was elected, receiving 153 votes to 118 for 
Reuben Townsend. This convention submitted to the people 
eight propositions. Xone of them were ratified. The vote 
of Ashburnham was 203 in favor and 146 opposed. By a light 


vote the town voted with the majority in the State in ratify- 
ing the six amendments that were added in 1855 and no 
subsequent amendment has elicited a full vote or a very 
decided expression of opinion. In later years, the sentiment 
of the town has been expressed by printed ballots. But on 
the pending amendments in 1820, the vote was taken in a 
more captious manner. The warrant calling upon the inhabi- 
tants of Ashburnham to assemble announced that the vote 
would be taken in the following manner : "All the voters to 
be seated and when called upon to vote then all that vote to 
rise and stand up with their heads uncovered until they are 
counted and then sit down in their seats again with their 
heads covered." It was a rare display of brains both in the 
record and in the vote. 

The relations of Ashburnham to the temporary forms of 
government, existing from 1774 to 1780, have been noticed 
in the Revolutionary History of the town. The first election 
under the Constitution in the autumn of 1780 was for a short 
term. At this election the town voted not to send a repre- 
sentative and continued of the same mind at the annual 
election the next spring. In fact, until the close of the 
century, Ashburnham was represented in only eight sessions 
of the Legislature, having voted tliirteen times "not to send 
a representative this year." It should be borne in mind that 
until 1831, the State officers and the Legislature were elected 
in the spring, and that the General Court was convened the 
last Wednesday in May. To Jacob Willard was reserved 
the honor of being the first representative from this town 
under the Constitution. He was elected in 1782 and again 
in 1787, 1791 and 1792 ; William Whitcomb 1783 and Samuel 
Wilder 1788, 1796 and 1798. Every other year the town 
was not represented in the popular branch of the Legislature, 
and in 1798 Mr. Wilder died before the Legislature con- 


Beginning with the present century, Jacob Willard was 
again elected in 1801, and following a familiar precedent the 
next seven years the town voted not to send a representative. 
In 1809, Joseph Jewett was first chosen and reelected in 
1812, 1813, 1814, 1816, 1821, 1829. He was also elected 
in 1810, but immediately after the declaration of the vote 
the town from a chronic habit " voted not to send a repre- 
sentative this year." Notwithstanding the vote of the town, 
Mr. Jewett, having been elected, assumed the duties of the 
office. Elisha White represented the town 1815 ; Stephen 
Corey 1819 ; Ivers Jewett 1824 ; Abraham T. Lowe 1825 ; 
Charles Barrett 1828 ; Nathaniel Pierce 1830. 

Simultaneous with the amendment of the Constitution in 
1831, changing the time of election from the spring to 
November and continuing until the amendment of 1840, the 
town having 375 or more ratable polls w^as entitled to send 
two representatives. Commencing with the fall elections 
and winter sessions and continuing until the adoption of the 
district system in 1857, the town failed ten times to be 

The earlier failures to elect a representative arose as much 
from a sentiment of indifference as from any other cause, 
but at this time there was a livelier interest in political affairs 
and party lines were sharply defined. The attempt was 
annually made and an election failed only when the combined 
vote of the Democrats and anti-slavery party defeated the 
Whigs in securing a majority which was then necessary to 
elect. In 1850 the Whigs were not only prevented from 
sending a representative but witnessed the election of a 
political opponent. During this period the following persons 
were elected for the session of the years ensuing : 

1831. Nathaniel Pierce, Hosea Stone. 

1832. Nathaniel Pierce, Hosea Stone. 

1833. Hosea Stone, Asahel Corey. 




Asahel Corey, 

Kilburn Harwood. 


Asahel Corey, 

Kilburn Harwood. 


Asahel Corey, 

Reuben Townsend 


Reuben Townsend, 

Stephen Cushing. 


Reuben" Townsend, 

No choice. 


George G-. Parker. 


George G. Parker. 


John C. Glazier. 



Ivers Adams. 


Joel Litch. 


Edward S. Flint. 


Ohio Whitney, Jr. 


Joseph P. Rice. 

In the district system of representation Ashburnham was 
classed with Winchendon until 1876. The representatives 
have been as follows : 

1857. Jacob B. Harris 

1858. Josiah D. Crosby 

1859. William Murdock 

1860. Albert H. Andrews 

1861. Nelson D. White 

1862. Thomas Boutelle 

1863. Giles H. Whitney 

1864. George C. Winchester 

1865. Giles H. Whitney 

1866. George E. Fisher 

1867. Windsor N. White 

1868. George H. Barrett 

1869. William L. Woodcock 

1870. Orlando Mason 

1871. Albert G. Sinclair 

1872. Austin Whitney 

1873. Charles A. Loud 

1874. Wilbur F. Whitney 

1875. Charles A. Loud 

of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon. 
of Winchendon. 
of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon. 
of Ashburnham. 
of Winchendon, 


Under a revision of the districts Ashburnham was classed 
with Gardner, Winchendon, Westminster and Princeton and 
privileged to send two representatives. 

1876. Simeon Merritt of Ashburnham and Wilder P. Clark of 


1877. C. Webster Bush of Gardner and Artemas Merriam of 


1878. Wilder P. Clark of Winchendon and William H. Brown 

of Princeton. 

1879. Edwin J. Cushing of Gardner and George W. Eddy of 


1880. Giles H. Whitney of Winchendon and J. Henry Miller of 


1881. John D. Edgell of Gardner and John B. Fay of Princeton. 

1882. Walter O. Parker of Ashburnham and Wilder P. Clark of 


1883. Roderick P. Bent of Gardner and Edwin L. Burnham of 


1884. Roderick R. Bent of Gardner and Charles J. Rice of 


1885. Charles J. Rice of Winchendon and Herbert S. Stratton 

of Gardner. 

The vote for governor at one hundred and five elections 
presents many suggestions concerning the growth and senti- 
ment of the town. The vote for presidential electors being 
substantially a repetition of the vote for governor the same 
year affords no additional information. If, for a few years 
early in the present century, the town evinced an unsteadi- 
ness of purpose, the political sentiment of Ashburnham has 
been mainly in sympathy with the Federal, Whig and Re- 
publican parties. 



Name of 

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Name of 


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No record 
of a vote. 
























































































































































































































































65 1 Scattering 




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Name of 

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Name of => J 

Name of 



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The county of Worcester was incorporated when the 
territory of Ashburnham was an unnamed wilderness. The 
relations of this town to the county was an inheritance in 
which the inhabitants had no voice, but they did not long 
remain silent after they became members of the corporation. 
Situated on the borders of the county and remote from the 
shire town, the voters of Ashburnham have debated many 
projects concerning a change of county lines or the creation 
of a new county. Some of these have been entertained with 
considerable favor. The discussion began one hundred years 
ago and has been renewed at frequent intervals. The old 
county remains unchanged and so do the advocates of a new 
one. One movement began in 1784 and extended through 
several years. To the first convention this town voted not 
to send a delegate, but in a convention held in Lunenburg 
in 1785, the town was represented by Samuel Wilder. At 
this time it was finally proposed to create a new county 
comprising towns in Worcester and Middlesex counties. 
To this proposal Ashburnham finally dissented and withdrew 
from the movement. 

In 1786, the town voted not to join with the petitioners 
of Petersham for a new county but were found ready to 
encourage the movement for a division of Worcester county 
which occurred soon after. To a convention held in Leom- 
inster in 1794 the town sent Samuel Wilder. The con- 
vention recommended the creation of a new county and this 
town chose Abraham Lowe, Samuel Wilder and Jacob 
Willard to petition the General Court. As a result of the 
solicitation of this and other towns the General Court in 1798 
submitted the question to the voters of the county. The 
vote of this town was sixty-four in favor of a division of the 
county and five opposed. Immediately after the vote was 
taken in the county a convention was held in Templeton in 


which the town was represented by Joseph Jewett, but the 
measure in the mean time was defeated and the town took no 
action on the report of the delegate to the convention. Con- 
cerning the subsequent efforts that have been made to divide 
the county of Worcester the sentiment of the town of Ash- 
burnham was divided but the county remains with its 
generous domain and extensive boundaries. 

Magistrates. — In colonial times the Justices of the Peace 
were commissioned in the name of the king and the office 
was regarded as one of marked distinction. Upon the 
adoption of the State Constitution the appointment was 
vested in the governor, yet the duties and prerogatives of 
the office were not materially changed and a peculiar dignity 
continued to attend the office. In later years, appointments 
have been bestowed with greater freedom and the number of 
persons qualified for the position, both by education and a 
knowledge of legal forms and proceedings, is so numerous 
that the magistrates of the present time, surrounded by men 
of equal influence and eminence, do not enjoy the distinction 
that once attended the position. The only person appointed 
to this office in this town by royal favor, was Samuel Wilder. 
For many years he was the only magistrate in Ashburnham. 
Joshua Smith, who came to this town in 1785, was styled 
Esquire Smith and before he removed hither he had been a 
Justice of the Peace in Southborough, but no record of his 
appointment after his removal to this town has been found. 
In the following list of the Justices of the Peace the first 
column gives the date of the first appointment. At the close 
of seven years the commissions generally have been renewed. 

1772. Samuel Wilder died May 9, 1798 

1796. Jacob Willard died February 22, 1808 

1798. Abraham Lowe died October 23, 1834 

1811. George R. Gushing died February 2, 1851 




Joseph Jewett 
Elisha White 
Stephen Corey 
Ivers Jewett 
Silas Willard 
Henry Adams 
Hosea Stone 
Nathaniel Pierce 
George G. Parker 
Kilburn Harwood 
Reuben Townsend 
Enoch Whitmore 
Charles Stearns 
John Petts — Trial Justice 
Jerome W. Foster 
George Rockwood 
John L. Cummings 
Charles W. Burrage 
William P. Ellis 
Albert H. Andrews 
Daniels Ellis, Jr. 
Ohio Whitney, Jr. 
Ivers Adams 
William F. Burrage 
Alfred Miller 
Wilbur F. Whitney 
Alfred Whitmore 
Marshall Wetherbee 
George W. Eddy 
Austin Whitney 
Melvin O. Adams 

died May 3, 1846 

died June 14, 1817 

died October 7, 1823 

removed from town 1827 

commission expired October 1, 1852 

removed from town 1830 

commission expired February 1, 1841 

" '' June 12, 1851 

died December 14, 1852 

removed from town 1845 

commission expired Feb. 3, 1860 

died September 13, 1860 

died July 11, 1874 

commission expired 1857 

died March 23, 1871 

died December 20, 1864 

removed from town 1859 

entered army 1861 

died February 6, 1879 

commission expired May 16, 1872 

removed from town 1867 

removed from town 1863 

died January 4, 1873 

commission expired Januar}^ 7, 1880 
removed from town 1876 
John H. Wilkin s. Notary Public 

S. Joseph Bradlee removed from town 1884 

Samuel G. Newton died July 23, 1884 

George C. Foster 


A list of Moderators of the Annual March meeting, Toion Clerks, 
Selectmen and Assessors, from the incorporcUion of the toivn 
to the present time. 

1765. Moderator, Samuel Fellows. Clerk, William Whitcomb. 
Selectmen, Samuel Fellows, Tristram Cheney, John Rich, 

James Coleman, Jonathan Gates. 
Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Joyner, John Bates. 

1766. Moderator, Samuel Fellows. Clerk, William Whitcomb. 
Selectmen, William Whitcomb, Tristram Cheney, John 

Rich, Elisha Coolidge, John Jones. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1767. Moderator, Tristram Cheney. Clerk, William Joyner. 
Selectmen, Tristram Cheney, Jona. Gates, John Kiblinger? 

John Jones, Samuel Wilder. 
Assessors, William Whitcomb, Samuel Wilder, Tristram 

1768. Moderator, Samuel Fellows. Clerk, William Joyner. 
Selectmen, Tristram Cheney, William Whitcomb, Samuel 

Assessors, the Selectmen- 

1769. Moderator, Samuel Fellows. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, John Kiblinger, Nathan Melvin, Samuel Fel- 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Joyner, William 

1770. Moderator, Samuel Fellows. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Fellows, John Kiblinger, Ephraim 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Whitcomb, Nathan 

1771. Moderator, Samuel Fellows. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Ephraim Stone, Samuel Wilder, John Kib- 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Whitcomb, Nathan 


1772. Moderator, William Whitcomb. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Ephraim Stone, John Kib- 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Whitcomb, John 

1773. Moderator, William Whitcomb. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Ephraim Stone, John Kib- 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Whitcomb, Jonathan 

1774. Moderator, William Whitcomb. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, John Willard, Jonathan Taylor. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1775. Moderator, Deliverance Davis. Clerk, Jacob Willard. 
Selectmen, John Kiblinger, Samuel Nichols, Jonathan 

Gates, Oliver Stone, Amos Kendell. 
Assessors, John Adams, John Conn, Ebenezer Hemen- 

1776. Moderator, William Whitcomb. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, William Whitcomb, John Kiblinger, Oliver 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, Jacob Willard, John Adams. 

1777. Moderator, William Whitcomb. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, John Willard, Jonathan Sam- 
son, Jonathan Taylor, Abijah Joslin. 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Wilder, Enos Jones, 
Joseph Metcalf, Francis Lane. 

1778. Moderator, William Whitcomb. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, John Conn, Oliver Willard, William Benjamin. 
Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Whitcomb, John 


1779. Moderator, William Whitcomb. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, John Conn, Oliver Willard, Amos Dickerson. 
Assessors, Samuel Wilder, William Whitcomb, Jacob 


1780. Moderator, Joseph Whitmore. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Isaac Merriam, Francis Lane. 


Assessors, Samuel Wilder, Jacob Harris, William Pollard. 

1781. Moderator, George Dana. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Jacob Harris, Hezekiah Corey, Euos Jones. 
Assessors, David Stedman, Jacob Harris, William Pollard. 

1782. Muderator, Jacob Wlllard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Hezekiah Corey, . Ebenezer 

Assessors, Jacob Harris, Samuel Wilder, David Stedman. 

1783. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Hezekiah Corey, Jacob Wil- 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, Jacob Harris, William Pollard. 

1784. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Hezekiah Corey, Francis 

Assessors, Samuel Wilder, Francis Lane, Jacob Harris. 

1785. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Samuel Foster, John Conn. 
Assessors, Jacob Harris, William Pollard, Jacob Willard. 

1786. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Joshua Smith, Samuel Wilder, Samuel Foster. 
Assessors, Jacob Harris, William Pollard, Oliver Hough- 

1787. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, John Adams, Amos Dickerson, Jacob Kiblinger. 
Assessors, Jacob Willard, Jacob Harris, John Adams. 

1788. Moderator, Joshua Smith. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, John Adams, Jacob Kiblinger, Samuel Foster. 
Assessors, John Adams, John Abbott, Oliver Houghton. 

1789. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, John Adams, Jacob Kiblinger, Samuel Foster. 
Assessors, John Adams, Jacob Harris, Jacob Willard. 

1790. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Samuel Foster, Samuel Wilder, Jacob Willard. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 


1791. Moderator, Jacob Wiilard. Clerk, Samuel Wilder. 
Selectmen, Jacob Wiilard, John Gates, Jacob Kiblinger. 
Assessors, Jacob Wiilard, Jacob Harris, Jacob Kiblinger. 

1792. Moderator, Jacob Wiilard. Clerk, Abraham Lowe. 
Selectmen, Samuel Foster, Francis Lane, Enos Jones. 
Assessors, Jacob Harris, Samuel Wilder, William Pollard. 

1793. Moderator, Samuel Wilder. Clerk, Abraham Lowe. 
Selectmen, Samuel Wilder, Joseph Jewett, Jacob Kib- 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1794. Moderator, Samuel Wilder. Clerk, Abraham Lowe. 
Selectmen, Francis Lane, Enos Jones, Ebenezer Munroe. 
Assessors, Samuel Wilder, Jacob Harris, Jacob Wiilard. 

1795. Moderator, Jacob Wiilard. Clerk, Abraham Lowe. 
Selectmen, Jacob Kiblinger, Joseph Jewett, John Conn. 
Assessors, Matthias Mossman, Joseph Jewett, Caleb 


1796. Moderator, Jacob Harris. Clerk, Abraham Lowe. 
Selectmen, Jacob Wiilard, Samuel Wilder, Caleb Ward. 
Assessors, Matthias Mossman, Jacob Harris, John Adams. 

1797. Moderator, Jacob Wiilard. Clerk, Abraham Lowe. 
Selectmen, Jacob Kiblinger, John Gates, William Stearns. 
Assessors, Matthias Mossman, Abraham Lowe, Elisha 


1798. Moderator, Jacob Wiilard. Clerk, Abraham Lowe. 
Selectmen, John Gates, William Stearns, Abraham Lowe. 
Assessors, Samuel Wilder, Joseph Jewett, Jacob Harris. 

1799. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Elisha White. 
Selectmen, Elisha White, David Cushlng, Jacob Kiblinger. 
Assessors, David Cushing, Joseph Jewett, Jacob Kib- 

1800. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Jacob Kiblinger, John Adams, 

Hezekiah Corey, Caleb Ward. 
Assessors, Joseph Jewett, John Adams, Jacob Kiblinger. 


1801. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Jacob Willard, Ebenezer Munroe, Jacob Con- 

Assessors, Jacob Willard, Jacob Constantine, Elisha 

1802. Moderator, Ebenezer Munroe. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Ebenezer Munroe, John Gates, David Cushing. 
Assessors, Joseph Jewett, David Cushing, Samuel Cotting. 

1803. Moderator, Ebenezer Munroe. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, David Cushing, John Gates, Caleb Ward. 
Assessors, Joseph Jewett, David Cushing, John Adams. 

1804. Moderator, Ebenezer Munroe. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Ebenezer Munroe, Amos Pierce, Hezekiah 

Corey, Jr. 
Assessors, Elisha White, Hezekiah Corey, Jr., Silas 

1805. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Amos Pierce, Hezekiah Corey, Jr., Thomas 

Assessors, Elisha White, David Cushing, Samuel Gates. 

1806. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Thomas Hobart, Joseph Jewett, Lemuel 

Assessors, Elisha White, Silas Willard, Samuel Gates. 

1807. Moderator, Jacob Willard. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Thomas Hobart, Joseph Jewett, Lemuel 

Assessors, Elisha White, Silas Willard, John Adams, Jr. 

1808. Moderator, Caleb Wilder. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Hobart, Lemuel 

Assessors, Elisha White, Silas Willard, John Adams, Jr. 

1809. Moderator, Elisha White. Clerk. Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Hobart, Lemuel 

Assessors, Elisha White, Silas Willard, John Adams, Jr. 


1810. Moderator, Caleb Wilder. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Elisha White, Silas Willard, Samuel Gates. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1811. Moderator, Elisha White. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Elisha White, Silas Willard, Stephen Corey. 
Assessors, Joseph Jewett, Silas Willard, Ebenezer 


1812. Moderator, Caleb Wilder. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Silas Willard, Stephen Corey. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1813. Moderator, Caleb Wilder. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Silas Willard, John Willard, Asa Woods. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1814. Moderator, Caleb Wilder. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Elisha White, John Willard, William J. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1815. Moderator, George R. Cashing. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, John Willard, John Adams, Jr. 
Assessors, Elisha White, Silas Willard, Stephen Corey. 

1816. Moderator, Caleb Wilder. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, John Willard, John Adams, Jr. 
Assessors, Elisha White, Stephen Corey, Jacob Harris, Jr. 

1817. Moderator, Caleb Wilder. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, John Willard, John Adams, Jr., Stephen 

Assessors, Elisha White, Stephen Corey, Jacob Harris, Jr. 

1818. Moderator, George R. Cashing. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Stephen Corey, John Adams, Jr. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1819. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, Stephen Corey, John Adams, Jr., Thomas 

Assessors, Stephen Corey, Silas Willard, Joel Foster. 

1820. Moderator, George R. Cashing. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Hobart, John 

Adams, Jr. 


Assessors, Joseph Jewett, John Adams, Jr., Silas Willarcl. 

1821. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Hobart, John 

Adams, Jr. 
Assessors, Joseph Jewett, Silas Willard, Hezekiah Corey. 

1822. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, John Adams, Jr., Hosea Stone, Timothy 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1823. Moderator, George R. Cushing. Clerk, Ivers Jewett. 
Selectmen, Joseph Jewett, Silas Willard, Reuben Town- 
send, Jr. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1824. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Joseph Jewett. 
Selectmen, Silas Willard, Hezekiah Core}'', John 

Adams, Jr. 
Assessors, Silas Willard, John Adams, Jr., Enoch 

1825. Moderator, George R. Cushing. Clerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Charles Barrett, Elias Lane, Oliver Marble. 
Assessors, Joseph Jewett, Hosea Stone, Benjamin Barrett. 

1826. Moderator, George R. Cushing. Clerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Charles Barrett, Elias Lane, Samuel Dunster. 
Assessors, Hosea Stone, Enoch Whitmore, John Wil- 
lard, Jr. 

1827. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Charles Barrett, Reuben Townsend, Jr., Enoch 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1828. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Charles Barrett, Reuben Townsend, Jr., 

Asahel Corey. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1829. Moderator, Joseph Jewett. Clerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Asahel Corey, Thomas Bennett, Joseph Jewett. 


Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1830. Moderator, George R. Gushing. Glerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Asahel Gorey, Amos Pierce, Jr., Gharles 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1831. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Glerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Asahel Gore}^, Amos Pierce, Jr., Gharles 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1832. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Glerk, Hosea Stone. 
Selectmen, Asahel Gorey, Amos Pierce, Jr., Gharles 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1833. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Glerk, Gharles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Amos Pierce, Jr., Jehiel Watkins, Kilburn 

Assessors, Asahel Gorey, Amos Pierce, Jr., Gharles 

1834. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Glerk, Gharles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Kilburn Harwood, Reuben Townsend, Jr., 

Gharles Davis. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1835. Moderator, George R. Gushing. Clerk, Gharles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Asahel Gorey, Gharles Davis, Ebenezer Frost. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1886. Moderator, Kilburn Harwood. Glerk, Gharles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Asahel Gorey, Ebenezer Frost, Jehiel Watkins. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1837. Moderator, Kilburn Harwood. Glerk, Gharles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Asahel Gorey, Kilburn Harwood, Gharles 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1838. Moderator, Kilburn Harwood. Glerk, Gharles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Kilburn Harwood, Reuben Townsend, John G. 

Assessors, Nathaniel Pierce, Ebenezer Frost, Stephen 


1839. Moderator, Kilburn Harwood. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, John C. Glazier, Ebenezer Frost, Ohio Whit- 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1840. Moderator, Reuben Townsend. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, George G. Parker, Reuben Townsend, Elias 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1841. Moderator, Reuben Townsend. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, George G. Parker, Reuben Townsend, Elias 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1842. Moderator, Kilburn Harwood. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, George G. Parker, Elias Lane, Harvey Brooks. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1843. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Harvey Brooks, John C. Davis, Charles Bar- 

Assessors, Hosea Green, Walter Russell, Jerome W. 

1844. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Charles Barrett, Kilburn Harwood, Ohio Whit- 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1845. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, George G. Parker, Ohio Whitney, Emery Fair- 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1846. Moderator, Oilman Jones. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Emery Fairbanks, Ohio Whitney, George G. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1847. Moderator, Ebenezer Frost. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, George G. Parker, Ohio Whitney, Jerome W. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 


1848. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Jerome W. Foster, Charles Stearns, Antipas 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1849. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Jerome W. Foster, Antipas Maj^nard, John A. 

Conn. , 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1850. Moderator, Enoch Whitmore. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, George G. Parker, John A. Conn, I vers Adams. 
Assessors, Ohio Whitney, Enoch Whitmore, Pyam Burr. 

1851. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, George G. Parker, Ivers Adams, Jerome W. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1852. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Antipas Maynard, Joseph P. Rice, Walter 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1853. Moderator, Enoch Whitmore. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Antipas Maynard, Joseph P. Rice, Jerome 

W. Foster. 
Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1854. Moderator, Enoch Whitmore. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Jerome W. Foster, John A. Conn, Ohio Whit- 
ney, Jr. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1855. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, Jerome W. Foster, Ohio Whitney, Jr., Henry 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1856. Moderator, Joel H. Litch. Clerk, Charles Stearns. 
Selectmen, John A. Conn, Elliot Moore, Ohio Whitney, 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 


1857. Moderator, Enoch Whitmore. Clerk, William P. Ellis. 
Selectmen, Elliot Moore, George S. Burrage, George 

Assessors, John A. Conn, Daniels Ellis, Jr., Ezra Randall. 

1858. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, William P. Ellis. 
Selectmen, George S. Burrage, Joel H. Litch, Addison A. 

Assessors, John A. Conn, Joel H. Litch, Perley Howe. 

1859. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, William P. Ellis. 
Selectmen, Addison A. Walker, Elliot Moore, Leonard 

Assessors, John A. Conn, Perley Howe, John G. Wood- 

1860. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Addison A. Walker, Leonard Foster, Simeon 

Assessors, Perley Howe, Jerome W. Foster, John G. 

1861. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, Jesse Parker, Isaac D. Ward. 
Assessors, Jerome W. Foster, Perley Howe, Charles 


1862. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Jesse Parker, Isaac D. Ward, William P. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1863. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Isaac D. Ward, Perley Howe, Elbridge Stim- 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1864. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Ohio Whitney, Jr., Marshall Wetherbee, 

Nathaniel L. Eaton. 
Assessors, William P. Ellis, Joel H. Litch, Perley Howe. 

1865. Moderator, Joel H. Litch. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 


Selectmen, Charles F. Rockwood, William F. Barrage, 

John G. Woodward. 
Assessors, Perley Howe, Joel H. Litch, Joel F. Metcalf. 

1866. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Charles F. Rockwood, William F. Barrage, 

John G. Woodward. 
Assessors Joel H. Litch, Joel F. Metcalf, Marshall 

1867. Moderator, Harvey D. Jillson. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Charles F. Rockwood, Elbridge Stimson, 

Francis A. Whitney. 
Assessors, Joel H. Litch, William P. Ellis, Europe H. 

1868. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Elbridge Stimson, Jerome W. Foster, Addison 

A. Walker. 
Assessors, John L. Cummings, Aastin Whitney, Lake 

1869. Moderator, John B. Thompson. Clerk, Jerome W. 

Selectmen, Franklin Russell, Simeon Merritt, Nathaniel L. 

Eaton . 
Assessors, Newton Hayden, John L. Cummings, Theodore 


1870. Moderator, Ohio Whitney, Jr. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Franklin Russell, Jesse Parker, Addison A. 

Assessors, Austin Whitney, John L. Cummings, Theodore 

1871. Moderator, Ohio Whitney. Clerk, Jerome W. Foster. 
Selectmen, Franklin Russell, Jesse Parker, George E. 

Assessors, Austin Whitney, John L. Cummings, Theodore 

1872. Moderator, Ohio Whitney. Clerk, Newton Hayden. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, George E. Davis, Addison A. 



Assessors, John L. Cummings, Theodore Greenwood, 
George C. Foster. 

1873. Moderator, Ohio Whitney. Clerk, Newton Hayden. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, John L. Cummings, George E. 

Assessors, John L. Cummings, Theodore Greenwood, 
Jesse Parker. 

1874. Moderator, Melvin O. Adams. Clerk, Newton Hayden. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, Austin Whitney, Martin B. 

Assessors, Austin Whitney, Walter R. Adams, Marshall 

1875. Moderator, Melvin O. Adams. Clerk, Newton Hayden. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, Austin Whitney, Martin B. 

Assessors, Walter R. Adams, Marshall Wetherbee, John 
L. Cummings. 

1876. Moderator, Melvin O. Adams. Clerk, Newton Hayden. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, Nathaniel Pierce, Benjamin E. 

Assessors, John L. Cummings, Marshall Wetherbee, 
Franklin Russell. 

1877. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 
Selectmen, John L. Cummings, Nathaniel Pierce, Benja- 
min E. Wetherbee. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1878. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 
Selectmen, John L. Cummings, Nathaniel Pierce, Benja- 
min E. Wetherbee. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1879. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 
Selectmen, John L. Cummings, Nathaniel Pierce, Benja- 
min E. Wetherbee. 

Assessors, the Selectmen. 

1880. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 



Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, Charles T. Litch, Orange 

Assessors, Walter R. Adams, Francis A. Whitney, Charles 

W. Whitney, 2d. 

1881. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, Charles T. Litch, John M. 

Assessors, Walter R. Adams, Francis A. Whitney, Charles 
W. Whitney, 2d. 

1882. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 
Selectmen, Simeon Merritt, Charles T. Litch, John M. 

Assessors, Francis A. Whitney, Charles F. Rockwood. 
Charles E. Woodward. 

1883. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens, 
Selectmen, Charles T. Litch, Edward S. Flint, Charles H. 

Assessors, Benjamin E, Wetherbee, Daniels Ellis, Jr., 
Charles E. Woodward. 

1884. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 
Selectmen, Charles T. Litch, Edward S. Flint, Charles H. 

Assessors, John L. Cummings, Walter R. Adams, Henry 
C. Newell. 

1885. Moderator, John H. Wilkins. Clerk, George F. Stevens. 
Selectmen, Charles T. Litch, Charles H. Pratt, Edward S. 

Assessors, John L. Cummings, Walter R. Adams, Henry 
C. Newell. 

CHAPTER yill. 














Twenty years the meeting-house in Dorchester Canada 
invited occupancy before there was a settled minister. 
During this period there were occasional supplies but more 
frequently the settlers attended church in Lunenburg, where 
Moses Foster, James Coleman, Unity Brown, John Bates, 
Thomas Wheeler and others were in full or covenant rela- 
tions. The church records of Lunenburg represent that 
many of the children born in Dorchester Canada previous to 
1760 were baptized there. It is not known who preached 
or who assembled to hear the first sermon in the township 
and previous to the advent of Mr. Winchester the nariie of 
only one minister is found in the records.' It is probable 
that the settlers sought and on week days sometimes enjoyed 
the friendly services of the clergy of Lunenburg, Townsend 



and Westminster. Any other supply that was secured by 
the settlers without the intervention of the proprietors would 
escape mention in the records. 

The humble plans of the settlement to secure preaching 
and the accumulating purpose reflected in the successive 
votes on the subject afibrd a renewed illustration of the fact 
that all our present privileges have sprung from unpreten- 
tious beginnings. Their first proposals were scarcely more 
than the suggestion of a prophecy of what has been accom- 
plished. In 1750 the proprietors decide "not to prosecute 
the aftair of calling a minister," but the following year they 
are found ready to order " that an Orthodox minister be 
applied to, to agree to preach the Gospel every four weeks 
if suitable weather." No money or committee was provided 
to carry the vote into eff*ect. It was a timid proposition. 
Possibly they viewed their proceedings in this light, since 
in 1753, an earnest purpose is reflected in the vote "that 
Mr. Joseph Wheelock, Mr. Caleb Wilder and Mr. Benja- 
min Bigelow be a committee to see that a Gospel minister 
preach in said township until further orders of the pro- 
priety." None of the committee resided in the township 
and it is quite probable that they failed to meet the desires 
of the proprietors and particularly of those who had removed 
to the settlement. At the succeeding meeting the language 
becomes more emphatic. It assumes the dignity of a com- 
mand. " Yoted that eighteen pounds be put into the hands 
of Mr. Foster to be applied by him to secure preaching." 
Moses Foster had resided in the township several years. If 
he did not secure a minister it was not through a failure of 
personal interest or of his instructions ; but to provide 
against every emergency there was a supplementary vote 
that Nathan Melvin, also a resident, cooperate with Mr. 
Foster. In 1755 an appropriation was made for current 


expenses including preaching but no specific sum was set 
apart for tliis purpose. Between this date and the settle- 
ment of Mr. Winchester several payments were made on 
this account, but the records only preserve the name of 
Rev. Elisha Harding, who received four pounds " for preach- 
ing in Dorchester Canada."' Mr. Harding was settled in 
Brookfield, Massachusetts, September 13, 1749, and dis- 
missed May 8, 1755. In May, 1759, another appropriation 
of eighteen pounds was made and Captain Caleb Dana of 
Cambridge and John Bates and Elisha Coolidge of Dorches- 
ter Canada were selected "to provide preaching in said 
township." The early efforts of this committee introduced 
to the settlement Rev. Jonathan Winchester. The candi- 
date was favorably received. A call was extended Novem- 
ber 27, 1759, and he was ordained April 23, 1760. The 
story of the call and the ordination is briefly outlined in the 

1759 Oct. 22. To appoint a committee to treat and agree with 
Mr. Jonathan Winchester, who has been 
preaching the Gospel there for some time 
past, concerning his settling in the work of 
the ministry there. 

1759 Nov. 22. Voted that their should be twenty shiUings 
lawful money Laid as a tax upon each Com- 
mon Right 3^early as a salary for Mr. Jona- 
than Winchester provided he shall settle in 
said township as a Gospel minister. One 
moitie thereof to be paid at the end of six 
months from the time he shall be agreed with 
to settle there and the other moietie in 
twelve months, annually, for the term of 
seven years or till such time as said town- 
ship shall come into some other method of 
Raising said sum of money for his support. 


Voted that there be twenty shillings Lawfull 
money Laid as a tax upon each Common Right 
as a Settlement for the above said Winchester 
if he shall settle as aforesaid, and to be paid 
to the treasurer by the time the said Win- 
chester shall be ordained in said township. 

Voted that Cap*^ Caleb Dana, Nathan Hey- 
wood. Cap*" Caleb Wilder, M"^ John Moffat 
and Mr. Benj'' Church be a Committee to 
treat and agree with Mr. Winchester con- 
cerning his settling in said township. 
1760 Feb. 18. To hear the Report of the Committee appointed 
to treat and agree with M"" Jonathan Win- 
chester concerning his settling in the work 
of the ministry there. 

To grant and raise monej' for the expense of 
his ordination in case of his acceptance of 
the invitation given him. 
1760 March 25. Voted that the place for ordination of M"" Win- 
chester shall be in the township of Dorches- 
ter Canada. 

Voted the time for ordaining M"" Winchester 
shall be on wednesda}^ the twenty-third day 
of April next. 

Voted that we apply to five churches to assist 
in ordaining M"^ Winchester, that we send 
to the first Church in Cambridge, to the 
Church in Lunenburg, to the Church in 
Acton, to the Church in Lancaster and to 
the Church in Brookline to assist in said 

Voted that each proprietor pay three shillings 
to defray the Cost and Charge of the ordi- 
nation to be paid forthwith into the hands of 
the treasurer or other person or persons as 
the proprietors shall appoint to receive the 



Voted that M^ Moses Foster, Cap*'^ Caleb 
Wilder and Cap^'' Samuel Huut be a Com- 
mittee to provide for said ordination in as 
convenient a place as may be and that they 
or any of them be impowered to receive the 
money granted for that purpose. 

Voted that M'^ Winchester may fence in and 
improve the meeting House Lot being forty 
rods square where the meeting House now 
stands, provided he doth not incommode the 
County road nor obstruct or hinder the 
Burrying of the dead, the burying place 
being in that lot. 

The ordination, as appears in these votes, was arranged 
by an exterior organization but the minister was settled over 
the people. If the proprietors directed the proceedings their 
duties ended with them. The future comprehended only 
the new relations between the pastor and his flock. An 
agreement was made with Mr. Winchester in January. 
Probably the ordination was intentionally deferred until the 
close of the winter season. 

Beyond the mention of the churches invited there is no 
record of the council. The records of the church in Brook- 
line contain the following entry under date of "April 13, 
1760. — Lord's Day. The pastor communicated to the 
church a letter from the committee of Dorchester Canada 
desiring the assistance of this church in the ordination of 
Mr. Jonathan Winchester, whereupon the church voted to 
comply with this request and chose Messrs. White, Aspin- 
wall, Croft, Isaac and Joseph Winchester to represent them. 

"Upon the request of Mr. Winchester the church dis- 
missed and recommended him to the fellowship of the 
Church in Dorchester Canada." 


The pastor of the Brookline church at this time was Rev. 
Joseph Jackson. Joseph Winchester was a brother of the 
candidate and Mr. Croft, probably, was a relative of Mrs. 
Winchester. Rev. John Swift, pastor of the church in 
Acton, was one of the proprietors of the township. The 
invitations included the venerable Rev. Dr. Nathaniel 
Appleton of Cambridge and Rca^ Timothy Harrington of 
Lancaster. Caleb Dana was a member of the church in 
Cambridge and the Wilders of the church in Lancaster. 
The records of the churches last named are incomplete, and 
while they contain no reference to the ordination of Mr. 
Winchester it is probable that all the churches invited were 
represented on the occasion. The invitation to the church 
in Lunenburo: was siofnificant. It was the voice of the 
settlement. Many of the settlers had been accustomed to 
worship there and Rev. David Stearns was the only 
minister they had known for many years. Without his 
presence the council would have been incomplete. The 
original letter of Mr. Winchester accepting the invitation of 
the proprietors, written in plain round characters, is 

To Messrs. Caleb Dana, Caleb Wilder, Nathan Haywood, 
John Moffatt and Benjamin Church, a committee of the 
proprietors of the township called Dorchester Canada in the 
county of Worcester, to communicate to said proprietors : 

Gentlemen , 

Whereas you have given me, the subscriber, the most unworthy 
and undeserving, an invitation and call to settle in the important 
work of the Gospel Ministry at Dorchester Canada, I thank you 
for the respect and favour therein discovered to me. 

After due consideration, asking advice, and especially seeking 
to the great Head of the Church for direction in so momentous 
and weighty an affair, esteeming your offers for my settlement 


and support reasonable and generous and relying upon this 
(which will be of very great consequence with respect to my 
temporal interests and the comfortable subsistance of my family) 
viz. : that the right of land, which the first settled Gospel 
minister in the place is entitled to by the grant of the great and 
general court, be good and convenient for my settlement and that 
if the lots already appropriated to that purpose are not so, they be 
changed for lands more commodious, I have determined to accept 
your call and hereby do manifest my acceptance thereof. Asking 
your prayers and depending on Divine Grace for assistance that I 
may be enabled faithfully to discharge so important a trust and 
that my settling as a Gospel minister may be a means by the 
blessing of heaven of furthering the growth and prosperity of the 
place and promoting pure and undefiled religion in the hearts and 
lives of the inhabitants is the desire and prayer of. Gentlemen 
Your devoted and most humble servant 

Brookline, January 23, 1760. 

The church Avas embodied the same day. Endorsing the 
prevailing creed of New England and desiring to enjoy the 
fellowship of the churches, it became necessary to adopt a 
covenant embracing: the essential features of their faith. It 
would be expected that common forms of expression would 
be found in the covenants, but it further appears that the 
covenant approved by the church in Gardner in 1786 is 
substantially a copy of the declaration adopted at this time. 
The original covenant is still preserved and on the back are 
written the names of the thirteen male members, who were 
admitted at the embodiment of the church. The covenant 
and the names are as follows : 


We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, being as we appre- 
hend called of God to enter into the Church State of the Gospel 


for the free and constant enjoyment of God's Worship and Ordi- 
nances, do in the first place acknowledge our unworthiness to be 
so highly favored of God at the same time admiring and adoring 
the rich and free Grace of God that triumphs over so great 
unworthiness, with a humble dependence upon the Grace of God 
to enable us to do our dut}^ we would thankfully lay hold on his 
Covenant and choose the things that please Him. 

We declare our serious and hearty belief of the Christian 
Religion as contained in the Sacred Scriptures and as usually 
embraced by the faithful in the Churches of New England, which 
is summarily exhibited (in the substance of it) in their confession 
of Faith ; heartily resolving to conform our lives by the rule of 
Christ's holy Religion as long as we live in the world. 

We give up ourselves to the Lord Jehovah who is the Father, 
the Son and Holy Spirit, we vouch him this day to be our God, 
our Father and our Savior and Leader and receive him as our 
portion forever. 

We give up ourselves to the Blessed Jesus acknowledging His 
true Deity resolving to adhere tcf Him as the head of his people 
in the Covenant of Grace, and we do rely upon Him as our 
Prophet, Priest and King to bring us to eternal blessedness. 

We acknowledge our everlasting and indisputable obligation to 
glorify God in all the Duties of a sober godly life and very par- 
ticularly in the duties of a church state and a body of people 
associated for an Obedience to Him in all the ordinances of the 
Gospel and we hereupon depend on his Grace as sufficient for our 
faithful discharge of the Duties thus incumbent upon us. 

We desire and also promise and engage with assistance to walk 
together as a church of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Faith and 
Order of the Gospel, so far as we do know the same, faithfully 
and conscientiously attending the Public Worship of God and the 
Sacrements of the New Testament. And that we will be observ- 
ant of the rules and laws of Christ's Kingdom which regard the 
Discipline and Government of the Church as they have in 
general been administered among the churches before mentioned. 
And that we will attend all God's holy institutions in communion 


with one another, watching over one another with a spirit of 
meekness, love and tenderness carefully avoiding all sinful 
stumbling blocks, strifes, contentions and that we will, endeavor to 
keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of Peace. 

We do also present our Offspring with ourselves unto the Lord 
resolving with Divine Help to do our part in the Method of a Relig- 
ious Education, that they may be the Lords, and that we will 
particularly be careful in our endeavor duly to sanctifie the Sab- 
bath and to keep up Religion in our Families. And all this we do 
flying to the Blood of the everlasting Covenant for the pardon of 
all our sins, praying the glorious Head of the church who is the 
great Shepherd of the Sheep would prepare and strengthen us for 
every good work to do his will working in us that which will be 
pleasing in his sight, to whom be glory forever and ever. 

Jonathan Winchester, Pastor 

Philip Vorback 

Christian Wm. Whiteman 

John Rich 

Jacob Schoffe 

John Kiblinger 

Elisha Coolidge 

Unity Brown 

John Oberlock 

Moses Foster 

Thomas Wheeler 

James Coleman 

John Bates 

In the transcript of the covenant and signatures made by 
Mr. Gushing the name of Unity Brown is written Unight 
Brown probably from the fact that his Christian name was 
sometimes written Unite and incorrectly pronounced in two 
syllables. The wives of the original members united with 
the church at this time or soon after, but their names do not 
appear in the records. Mr. Winchester and his wife brought 
letters from the church in Brookline. Moses Foster, James 


Coleman, Unity Brown and their wives were received on 
letters from the church in Lunenburg where they had main- 
tained relations during their early residence in the settlement, 
and it is probable that some of the Germans presented letters 
from churches in their native land. 

The additions to the church during the ministry of Mr. 
Winchester were Jeremiah Foster by profession, 1761 ; 
Samuel Fellows and wife, William Whitcomb and wife and 
Sarah Dickerson by letters from church in Harvard and 
Stephen Ames and wife by profession, 17G2 ; Tristram 
Cheney and wife and Hannah Joyner by letter from church 
in Sudbury, Ebenezer Conant and wife from church in Con- 
cord, 1763; John Marthi and wife, Samuel Fellows, Jr., 
and wife and Ebenezer Hemenway by profession, 1764 ; 
Jeremiah Foster, Jr., and Abraham Smith and wife by 
profession, 1765 ; Deliverance Davis and wife and Mary 
Whitman, wife of John Whitman, by profession, 1766 ; 
Daniel Merrill and wife, Sarah Foster, wife of Jeremiah 
Foster, Jr., and Job Coleman and wife, 1767. The whole 
number is forty-two, to which should be added the names of 
the females who were received at the organization of the 
church. The first deacons were Moses Foster and Samuel 
Fellows but a record of their election is not found. Beyond 
this outline of the results of his ministry, little is known of 
the labors and characteristics of Mr. Winchester. That he 
secured the love and respect of his people and was regarded 
as a most worthy and upright man is reflected in the measure 
of their sorrow at his death. The proprietors also manifested 
their esteem in a vote to make him a gratuity in addition to 
his stated salary. " Voted that the proprietors will grant 
Eev. Mr. Winchester £18 as a consideration of the extraor- 
dinary expense, he has been put to for two years past, on 
account of the high price of provisions." This action 


occurred January 26, 1763, and is suggestive of the hard- 
ships and trials attending both the pastor and his people in a 
new settlement. 

The death of Mr. Winchester, which occurred on Wednes- 
day, November 26, 1767, was a serious loss to the young- 
parish. At once they were bereft of a faithful pastor, a 
judicious counsellor and a sincere friend. Their established 
relations, their mutual plans, their brightest hopes of the 
future were ended by the sad event. That the people 
realized their loss and gave unmistakable expression of the 
deepest sorrow is announced in the records and confirmed by 
many traditions. The widow continued to reside in this 
town where she died July 27, 1794, and the name has never 
faded from the registers of the town . 

Rev. Jonathan Winchester, son of Henry and Frances 
Winchester of Brookline, was born April 21, 1717. He was 
graduated at Harvard University 1737, and for several 
years was a school teacher in Brookline. He married May 
5, 1748, Sarah Crofts, an educated and talented lady, of 
Brookline, where six of their ten children were born. If 
Mr. Winchester preached anywhere previous to his removal 
to this town the fact has not appeared. When he began 
preaching here he had not been ordained and consequently 
this was his first settlement in the ministry. If little has 
been found concerning the life and characteristics of Mr. 
Winchester, there is abundant evidence that he was a man 
of singular purity of character, a kind neighbor and an 
earnest and effective preacher. That he was respected and 
greatly beloved by his people is clearly reflected in the 
records, and that he was a man of earnest, steadfast pur- 
poses, of generous and friendly impulses, restrained by a 
firm adherence to the commands of duty, is supported by 
many traditions. 


It is the testimony of Dr. Gushing that he lived in peace 
and was respected and beloved and when he died was much 
lamented. And his parish soon after his death engraved 
upon the tablet that marks his grave their appreciation of 
the minister whom they had loved. 







Integer vitce, scelerisque purus. 

A newspaper of the time, The Boston Post Boy and 
Advertiser, in the issue of December 28, 1767, announces 
the death of Mr. Winchester in these terms : "The latter end 
of November died at Ashburnham, long known by the name 
of Dorchester Canada, the Rev. Mr. Jonathan Winchester, 
Minister of the church in that town. A sensible, worthy 

After the death of Mr. Winchester, the church " chose 
Deacon Moses Foster moderator while destitute of a pastor." 
"June 16, 1768, the church met and made choice of John 
Gushing for the minister with a full vote and chose Deacons 
Foster and Fellows and Brother Gheney as a committee to 
acquaint him of it." In this action of the church the town 
on the fourth of July unanimously concurred. " September 
21, 1768, the church met and voted that the ordination of 
the pastor elect, John Gushing, should be on the second 
day of November following, and voted to send to seven 
churches." " Ghose Deacon Fellows, Elisha Goolidge and 
Tristram Gheney to sign the letters missive." To this 
decision of the church the town promptly assented and made 
ample arrangements for the occasion. 



The council, if all the invitations were accepted, was com- 
posed of Rev. Joseph Sumner of Shrewsbury, the successor 
of the father of Mr. Gushing ; Rev. Ebenezer Morse, pastor 
of the North Parish, now Boylston ; Rev. Ebenezer Park- 
man of Westboro', the father of the future wife of Mr. 
Gushing ; Rev. Jacob Gushing of Waltham, a brother of 
the candidate ; Rev. Asaph Rice of Westminster ; Rev. 
Stephen Farrar of New Ipsw^ich, at whose ordination 
Mr. Winchester had assisted and Rev. John Pay son of 
Fitch burg. 

In full sympathy with this sombre day in autumn and 
with hearts heavy with sorrow for their first minister, whom 
they had loved, the church and parish look to his successor 
with hope and courage. Many trivial affairs have made 
more display on the pages of the records but in its pervading 
and salutary in^uences in directing and moulding the senti- 
ment of another generation, in the full measure of its results, 
the ordination of Mr. Gushing was a most memorable event 
in the annals of Ashburnham. The minister, in the robust 
strength and courage of early manhood, assumes the labors 
and burdens of a lifetime ; while the people, entering an 
era of concord, willingly comply with the mild yet unyield- 
ing influences of his faithful ministrations. 

The years of a successful ministry crowned with the 
rewards of peace and harmony are only the links in a con- 
tinuous chain of similar events. They are so alike in 
outline, so connected in record, they cannot be regarded 
separately. The labor of Mr. Gushing began with his 
ordination and ended with his death. It admits of no 
divisions. For fifty-five and one-half years the course of 
his labor, like the flow of a river, was uninterrupted and 
onward. To measure the flood emptied into the sea we 
must notice the duration as well as the volume of the 


current. Before his allotted work was scarce begun those 
aged at the time of his ordination had faded away ; the 
middle-aged and those in the strength of early manhood 
grew old and also died ; while yet with vigor unabated he 
ministered to their children and beneath his sight the youth 
he first beheld passed the stages of life and sunk beneath the 
weight of years. Without a change of scene his charge and 
congregation were many times renewed. 

The registers of the church during his ministry are a 
continued record of wisdom in administration and freedom 
from any serious contention. At the beginning the town 
was united in religious opinions and in harmony with the 
creed of the church. At a later period the pastor and the 
church found frequent employment in dealing with an 
increasing number of dissenters. First, a few announcing a 
change of opinion on the doctrine of baptism desired to with- 
draw and unite with those of kindred faith, and early within 
the present century a larger number withdrew and united 
with the Methodists. Compared with the prevailing usage 
and practice of the times a liberal policy was pursued and 
a commendable measure of forbearance and toleration was 
exercised. In a review of the position of the church in 
these proceedings Mr. Gushing says, — "There has generally 
been manifested a disposition that each should enjoy liberty 
of conscience. I have uniformly endeavored to exercise 
charity towards dissenters and to avoid asperity and cen- 
soriousness. And the reflection that I have thus endeavored 
affords satisfaction. In exercising the discipline of Christ's 
kingdom I have aimed to avoid severity. I have ofter 
thought of an observation of the bishop of St. Asaph as 
worthy of regard : ' The art of government consists in not 
o^overnino^ too much.' " 

The great embarrassment of the church rested in the fact 
that each measure of discipline on questions of faith was 


answered by a request for a letter of dismissal and recom- 
mendation. This they could not grant without officially 
recognizing a church of another denomination and that, for 
many years, they would not do. The church also main- 
tained that a withdrawal without leave was amenable to 
discipline and that a dismissal could not be granted until the 
offending persons had given satisfaction to the church. A 
candid review of these proceedings must lead to the conclu- 
sion that the church in fact was laid under the sternest 
discipline and wisely profited by it. With a laudable 
degree of justice and in advance of the practice of the 
churches in this vicinity the church in Ashburnham began 
to grant dismissals when requested and to give a general 
certificate of good moral character. This procedure at once 
freed the church from a perpetual season of discipline and 
left the dissenters, aiTiied with a commendation "to whom it 
may concern," at full liberty to follow the leadings of duty 
or inclination. 

In 1778, the following persons were dismissed upon their 
declaration that they had changed their sentiments in 
respect to Infant Baptism, the manner of supporting the 
Gospel, and of admitting church members : Elisha Coolidge, 
Ebenezer Conant, Ebenezer Conant, Jr., and wife, Nathan 
Putnam and wife, Nathan Bigelow and wife, Jacob Willard 
and wife, Jacob Constantine and wife, John Martin and wife, 
and John Bigelow. Upon their dismissal they were favored 
with the following letter : 

Whereas Elisha Coolidge and others, members of this church, 
have withdrawn themselves from this church and plead their 
changing their religious sentiments with respect to Infant Baptism, 
etc., as the reason, and that they can't in conscience hold com- 
munion with us as heretofore and desiring a dismission from 

their relations to this church, Tliese are to signify that we would 


not forcibly detain them or hold them against their consent, but 
do dismiss them from their relations to us and certif}^ withal that 
before they withdrew from communion with us they were free 
from scandal and while they appeared before the church, to give 
their reasons for absenting, they conducted in a brotherly and 
christian manner. 

While the persons who withdrew at this time were styled 
Baptists on account of a feature of their creed they further 
contended that it was sinful and unscriptural to maintain a 
salaried clergy, or in their own words, "we are against those 
that preach for hire or those that ask pay for kindling a fire 
on God's altar." The case of Mary Cheney who joined the 
Baptists without requesting a dismissal was attended with 
more difficulty : 

The Church of Christ in Ashburnham to Mary Cheney : 

At a meeting of the church regularly held, your conduct in 
leaving this church without leave or notice given was taken in 
consideration and, after maturely weighing the matter, judged that 
it was a breach of covenant and that you ought to be admonished 
for your disorderly conduct. When you was admitted among us, 
you solemnly promised to walk in communion with us as far as 
you knew your duty, and we promised to watch over you and are 
now endeavoring to perform our engagement by sending you this 
letter of admonition. When you was dissatisfied with us and could 
not in conscience have communion with us, why could you not 
have manifested your mind? We do not want to debar any 
from enjoying liberty of conscience, but how can the purity and 
order of the church possibly be kept up, if members, contrary to 
solemn engagements, break away from one church to another with- 
out the least notice given? Your change of opinions can't justify 
your conduct, for God is a God of order and not of confusion. 

We therefore admonish you for breach of covenant and earnestly 
entreat you to consider seriously of what you have done and of the 
bad and dangerous consequences of such disorderly behavior and 



to give the church you have justly offended christian satisfaction 
without which we cannot at any time admit you to any privilege 
among us if 3'ou should desire it. And we judge also that the 
church to which you have joined are disorderly and ought to be 
admonished. We pray the great Shepherd would lead and guide 
you by his spirit, make you fully sensible of your evil conduct and 
dispose you to make that satisfaction which we must suppose your 
conscience upon mature deliberation will readily dictate. 

We subscribe ourselves your offended brethren, yet ready to be 
reconciled upon reasonable and christian terms. 

. The defection of a few from the church to the Methodists 
occurred at a later period and under the warmth of a more 
charitable and tolerant spirit. The following letter truthfully 
reflects the pacific policy which pervades the records at this 

April 4, 1796. — Whereas our brother Stephen Randall, Jr., has 
requested that he may be dismissed from this to the Episcopal 
Methodist Church because he finds he is better edified than to 
continue with us and is not fully satisfied with the custom of dis- 
ciplining members, we would say, we wish not to deprive him of 
any good which he thinks he may gain for his soul, we are free 
and willing that every one should have liberty of conscience. 
Also a letter of dismission would introduce him into the Methodist 
Church, from the principle of christian charity and communion we 
should readily grant it, certifying that his moral character is good. 
We desire and pray that he may adorn the doctrine of Jesus 
Christ with those of his denomination, though we would not be 
understood as fully approving all their doctrines and discipline. 

In other cases of discipline, with limited knowledge of the 
facts and surroundings, it would be folly to inquire if the 
church had been severe or if the ofienders had sinned. Only 
one case evincing the breadth and tenderness of brotherhood 
will be cited. This report of a committee delegated to visit 


one of the most prominent citizens of the town is in the 
language of Mr. Gushing who was one of the committee and 
is dated January 1, 1818. 

We waited upon him soon after our appointment and after say- 
ing everything we could on the one hand to dissuade him from the 
excessive use of spirit, and on the other to encourage him to a 
reformation, at length he told us that he had come to a resolution 
to refrain entirely for one month. At the end of which we might 
visit him again and if we found he had broken over the resolution 
we might do with him as we thought best. Accordingly^ at the 
end of the month we all visited him again and he declared he had 
not taken a drop of spirit, and upon being asked what his purpose 
was for the future he told that it was his determination to per- 
severe, so that we were relieved from the disagreeable work of 
leaving the letter of admonition with him, and we rejoiced together 
at the pleasing and happy prospect of a reformation. He seemed 
to have uncomfortable apprehensions that he should not be able to- 
remove the offence he had given the church. But we answered 
him that the offence would cease immediately upon his reformation, 
that the church would rejoice , that his family and connections 
would rejoice, yea and the angels in Heaven would rejoice. 

It is within the memory of many of the aged among us, 
that Mr. Gushing maintained an advanced position on the 
question of temperance and that in the pulpit, more fre- 
quently than many of his contemporaries, he boldly preached 
the error and evils of intemperance. If his views on this 
subject were presented with a characteristic rigor of opinion, 
they were attended in his daily walk among his people with 
that spirit of forgiveness and brotherly love and tenderness 
which pervades the report we have cited. 

The church in Ashburnham was amons^ the first to 
abandon the custom of administering the rites of baptism to 
the children of parents who were not members of the church. 


This custom of very early origin prevailed in many of the 
New England churches until a comparatively recent period. 
The parents who thus desired to present their offspring for 
baptism were required to " own the covenant," or in other 
words, to publicly express a general belief in the creed of 
the church. They were not required to profess, and it is 
reasonably certain they did not always possess, the moral 
qualification of membership and they were only expected to 
express an intellectual assent to the general truths of the 
church covenant. The persons who had only owned the 
covenant w^ere not admitted to communion nor were they 
amenable to church discipline, but being admitted to the 
privilege of presenting their children for baptism on an 
equality with those in full communion they were frequently 
styled "half way members." This practice continued 
throughout the ministry of Mr. Winchester, but it never 
fully met the approval of Mr. Cushing. With an habitual 
conservatism in regard to measures, and mindful of the vigi- 
lant tendency of his people to oppose any abridgment of 
their privileges or accepted customs, he presented the follow- 
ing proposition wdiich was adopted without evidence of 
opposition : 

We the church of Christ in Ashburnham, being desirous of pro- 
moting practical religion in this place, taking into consideration 
the general practice in the churches of persons owning the cove- 
nant, and having reason to fear that such are left to run too much 
at large without being watched over and not seeing the consistency 
of their solemnly owning the covenant and then not paying 
regard thereto as is the case too much with respect to some it 
appearing too evident that the main design of some is for the sake 
of enjoying the ordinance of baptism only : We have come into the 
following vote : 

That we will not for the future admit any to the privilege of 
baptism except members in full. And that we might not be 


thought too severe — if there should be any (which we hope will 
not be the case) , who are so full of doubt and fear, that they dare 
not approach to the table, but yet are desirous of enjoying the 
privilege of baptism and putting themselves under the care and 
watch of the church, we shall not insist upon their participation 
under such a situation of their mind, nor proceed to censure them 
if they do not immediately partake of the ordinance. 

Inasmuch as there are several that are in covenant that are not 
members in full, this vote is not to be considered as cutting them 
off from a privilege granted to them heretofore. However we will 
consider them as under the inspection of the church, and we 
engage that we will watch over them as though they were mem- 
bers in full. 

This action occurred April 7, 1773. There were some 
precedents for it at this date, but it was twenty or more 
years in advance of very many churches situated nearer the 
schools of theology and the centres of influence. 

Notwithstanding the disintegrating influences which were 
felt at times not only in this town but throughout New 
England, the membership of the church slowly increased in 
numbers throughout the ministry of Mr. Gushing. The loss 
occasioned by death, by removals from the town and by a 
transfer of relations was more than compensated by an 
increase in population and the fruit of several seasons of 
unusual religious interest. The registers of the church in 
the handwriting of Mr. Gushing represent that, at the time 
of his death, there were about one hundred and thirty 
resident members. In one small volume the statistics of 
more than fifty years are carefully entered. The summary 
includes the names of three hundred and thirty-one persons 
admitted to the fellowship of the church ; the baptism of 
nine hundred and sixty-three children and twenty-four adults 
and the record of three hundred and twelve marriages. 


Rev. John Gushing, D. D., was born in Shrewsbury, 
Massachusetts, August 22, 1744. A descendant of the 
Gushing family of Hingham he inherited the strong and 
vigorous traits of character which have distinguished many 
generations. He was a son of Rev. Job and Mary (Pren- 
tice) Gushing. His father was the first minister of Shrews- 
bury where he died August 6, 1760. His mother was the 
daughter of Rev. John and Mary (Gardner) Prentice of 
Lancaster and an honored name in the annals of that town. 
She died at the age of ninety years May 24, 1798. 

Mr. Gushing entered Harvard University where he main- 
tained an honorable standing and was graduated 1764, 
exactly fifty years after his father had received a diploma 
from the same institution. At the age of twenty-four years 
he was ordained and settled over the church in this town, 
November 2, 1768, and died April 27, 1823. From his 
alma mater he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity 

The most fitting tribute to the memory of ]Mr. Gushing is 
found in his works. For many years he was the only 
minister in the town. He stood in the midst of an increas- 
ing parish scattered over a large township, yet his influence 
pervaded every portion of it. He was faithful in every 
seiwice. Two sermons were regularly prepared for the 
Sabbath, frequent discourses were written for week-day 
lectures and his ministrations to the sick and the bereaved 
were prompt and unfailing. He was constant in his attend- 
ance upon the schools and in all social relations with his 
parish. At every fireside the serenity of his countenance, 
the wisdom of his speech and the purity of his life and 
example were continually deepening the impression and 
enforcing the influences of his public ministrations. He 
gladly welcomed all the moral and benevolent enterprises 


of his time. The cause of temperance and the early mission- 
ary organizations received from him a warm and efficient 

In stature, Mr. Cushing was tall and portly ; in bearing 
dignified and erect. He moved with precision and with the 
incisive mark of strength and vigor. As the infirmity of 
age grew upon him, his step was slower but never faltering ; 
his form became slightly bowed but lost none of its original 
dignity and commanding presence. His mild blue eye and 
the serenity of his countenance were undimmed even when 
his whitened and flowino: locks were countins: the increasing 
furrows of age in his face. 

As a preacher he adhered to the fundamental doctrines of 
his creed and supported them with frequent quotation from 
the Scriptures. The plan of his discourse was lucid and his 
methods of reasoning direct and logical. If he was tenacious 
in the use of set terms and forms of speech he invariably 
applied them with aptness and precision. He did not rely 
on the abundance of words or the exhibition of emotion, but 
upon the weight and sequence of the central truths which 
formed the theme of his discourse. His voice was clear, 
strong and pleasing. He read his sermons closely and 
without gesture. In delivery he was moderate, earnest and 
impressive. At home and abroad he was justly regarded as 
an able, instructive preacher. The ability of Mr. Cushing 
in an intellectual sense was conspicuous. Measured by men 
of acknowledged power and ability he was not deficient. 
He held a foremost rank among illustrious compeers in his 
profession and was an equal in mind and character of Eev- 
erends Pay son of Rindge, Farrar and Hall of New Ipswich, 
Waters of Ashby, Rice of Westminster and Pillsbury of 


As a counsellor he was prudent and judicial. Possessing 
a thorough knowledge of ecclesiastical law and skilled in the 
usages of the church, his advice was frequently sought in 
the settlement of contention in other churches. In such 
service his counsels were invaluable. If his associates were 
exacting and harsh in their conclusions, his judgments were 
always tempered with mercy and his decisions fragrant with 
forgiveness and reconciliation. In the midst of every form 
of contention, his goal was peace and seldom was he moved 
from his accustomed paths by the passions of contending 
men. In ecclesiastical councils of a more pacific character 
his services w^ere frequently solicited and cheerfully ren- 
dered and for many years a council was seldom convened in 
a circle of many miles to which he was not invited. 

In his daily life Mr. Gushing was laborious. His dis- 
courses were carefully written, his parochial visits were 
regularly made and the schools were familiar with his 
presence. With these uninterrupted ministrations and the 
care of his farm he found time in some way for reading and 
music. He was regarded by his associates in the ministry 
as a man of liberal knowledge and varied acquirements. 

He was preeminently a minister of the olden time. His 
parish was his field of labor and no one was neglected. His 
charge was his constant thought and duty, and while he 
watched for the fruit of his labor, he toiled on with unfail- 
ing hope and courage. Even in the decline of life and 
under the weight of nearly eighty years his service was 
acceptable and his parish united in their love and respect 
for their venerable teacher. It seems that their afi*ection for 
him increased as he paled and grew feeble in their service. 
And when death came and stilled the pulsations of his warm 
and generous heart, his people paid a fitting tribute in the 
lines of sorrow engraved on every countenance. From that 


hour the voice of tradition began to assert that his genius 
was solid ; his understanding clear ; his judgment strong ; 
his memory faithful ; his emotions cool and restrained yet 
his sympathies tender and his affections warm ; that his 
resolution and perseverance were unusual, that he was 
faithful to every trust and that his heart was so honest, his 
friendship so sincere and his tongue under such control, that 
his smile was a benediction and his speech a sermon. 

Mr. Gushing married September 28, 1769, Sarah Park- 
man, daughter of Kev. Ebenezer and Hannah (Breck) Park- 
man of Westboro, who surviving her husband died in this 
town March 12, 1825. The record of the family is con- 
tinued in the genealogical registers. 

After these many years the church and the parish were 
without a minister. There were several families in town 
that had removed hither soon after the settlement of Mr. 
Gushing, but very few were living who witnessed his ordi- 
nation. The only grown persons living in this town in 1768 
who remained here and survived Mr. Gushing were Enos 
Jones, Rebecca (Foster) Ward, widow of Galeb Ward, 
Judith (Foster) Brooks, widow of Dr. Peter Brooks. 

The following June the town chose William J. Lawrence, 
Thomas Hobart, Peuben Townsend, Jr., Joseph Jewett and 
Benjamin Barrett to supply the pulpit. At a meeting early 
in October the committee reported that " they had hired 
Mr. George Perkins to preach four Sabbaths." Three 
weeks later the town voted to hear Mr. Perkins four addi- 
tional Sabbaths and on the first day of December instructed 
the committee to employ Mr. Perkins until further orders 
from the town. December 24, eight months after the death 
of Mr. Gushing, the church extended a unanimous call, in 
which the town concurred in a vote of sixty-eight to seven- 
teen. The town instructed the committee formerly chosen 


to notify the candidate and the church joined Deacon Hunt, 
Dr. Lowe and Doddridge Gushing. The letter of accept- 
ance is subjoined : 

AsHBURNHAM, Janv. 24, 1824. 
To the Congregational Church and Society in Ashburnham : 

Christian Brethren and Friends — 

Having been presented by your committee with the votes of 
this church and congregation giving me a call to settle with you 
as your Gospel minister and having, as I trust, attentively and 
prayerfully sought to know my dut}^ in a case of such vast 
importance in its consequences, both to you and to myself, I have 
come to a determination to accept of the invitation contained in 
your votes, subject to the conditions specified therein. I am also 
ready to unite with the church and society in such measures as 
may be necessarj^ to carry your votes and this answer into effect. 
As there may be occasions which will render it necessary for me 
to leave this place for a longer period than one week at a time, 
I think it reasonable to claim the privilege of being absent two 
Sabbaths in each year, without abatement of compensation, — this 
being the least number usually granted. The church and society 
will also expect me to make such exchanges as are customary 
among neighboring ministers. 

Feeling, as I do, my unworthiness of so important a trust and 
my utter insufficiency in my own strength, to lead a life of use- 
fulness amongst you, I cannot close without making the further 
request that I may at all times have your fervent prayers to God 
that He would make me a zealous, faithful and successful minister 
of the New Testament to the souls of this people. 


Mr. Perkins was ordained February 25, 1824. The 
council comprised the Reverends Bascom and Putnam of 
Ashby, Putnam of Fitchburg, Mann of Westminster, Well- 
ington of Templeton, Estabrook of Athol, Sabin of Fitz- 
william and Deacon George Coffin of Winchendon. 


The ministry of Mr. Perkins was successful and unusually 
acceptable to the church and congregation. Entering the 
ministry without pursuing a prescribed course of study he 
had not acquired the conventional manners of the schools, 
yet in him were combined dignity with affability and 
unusual plainness of speech with equal kindness. In the 
pulpit he was often colloquial, sometimes eloquent and 
always instructive. A few lines from a letter written by 
Sarah Jewett in December, 1823, will be accepted as 
authority in regard to his characteristics. "Mr. Perkins is 
our candidate. I am certain you will like him much, as 
you like unassuming manners. He is an uncommonly 
interesting man. His manner in the pulpit is easy and 
natural ; his composition chaste ; and his remarks original, 
and we seldom witness such urbanity of manner." It is 
the united testimony of all who remember him that he was a 
devoted minister and a kind, sympathizing friend. By his 
ready sympathy and his exemplary walk and conversation 
he secured the affections and respect of his people. In his 
public ministrations he was discreet and faithful. At a 
season of controversial discussion, which was rending many 
churches, his flock was united and by avoiding doctrinal 
preaching he persuaded his people to drown dissension in 
forge tfulness. The ministry of Mr. Perkins in this place 
was interrupted by the feebleness of the aged parents of 
his wife who sought his care and assistance. Obtaining a 
dismissal from his charge he returned to Connecticut. 

A mutual council was convened July 3, 1832, and after 
formally assenting to the desire of Mr. Perkins to be 
released from his charge the record proceeds : 

The council are happy to state that in the dissolution of the 
pastoral relations of the Rev. George Perkins to this church and 
people the most mutual good feeling has prevailed and we wish to 



state explicitly that the reasons assigned for a dissolution of this^ 
relation are such as do not show any dissatisfaction of the church 
and people towards their pastor nor any dissatisfaction on his 
part towards them. 

Rev. George Perkins, son of Dr. Elisha and Sarah 
(Douglas) Perkins, was born in Plainfield, Connecticut^ 
October 19, 1783. He pursued a preparatory course of 
study at the Academy in his native town and was graduated 
at Yale College 1803. After reading law in the office of 
Hon. Charles Marsh of Woodstock, Vermont, he soon 
became a prominent lawyer in Norwich, Connecticut. In 
the continued practice of his profession he earned an excel- 
lent reputation as a safe and prudent counsellor and an able 
advocate. Such was his integrity and conscientious adher- 
ence to his idea of right, he was familiarly styled by his 
brethren in the profession and often by the public as 
"Honest George." In 1821, and soon after the death of 
his first wife, closing his office in Norwich and with little 
remark concerning his intentions, he sought the home of his 
brother, Eev. J. Douglas Perkins, in Coatesville, Pennsyl- 
vania, and under his tuition he pursued the study of theology 
a year or more. Entering the ministry at the age of forty 
years and after preaching a few Sabbaths in Ashby, his first 
continued pastoral labor was in this town. After his dis- 
missal from this church he was installed in 1832 over the 
church in Jewett City, Connecticut, where he remained six 

Of his ministry in that place. Rev. Thomas L. Shipman, 
his successor, has written, "He preached eloquently seven 
days in the week by the power of a holy life." Later he 
was occupied some time in the settlement of the estate of 
Dr. John Turner, the father of his wife, and residing in 


Norwich he supplied in the vicinity from time to time until 
death came to abide with him September 15, 1852. 

Mr. Perkins, after a brief interval, was succeeded by Eev. 
George Goodyear. He was the last minister who preached 
in the meeting-house on the hill and the first who ministered 
in the new house in the villao^e. He was installed October 
10, 1832, and dismissed at his request November 16, 1841. 
This was a pastorate of pleasant and enduring memories and 
a season of temporal and spiritual prosperity. The new 
meetinof-house was built soon after the labors of Mr. Good- 
year began. The congregation was large and many names 
were enrolled on the registers of the church ; one hundred 
and ten members being received in a single year, of whom 
seventy-seven were admitted the first Sabbath in July, 1834. 
During this memorable season the pastor was assisted by 
Horatio Foot, the evangelist. Many who read his name 
will recall his earnest words and impassioned manner as they 
wonder if his appeal to the emotions was as enduring as the 
address of abler men to the intellect. 

In the discharge of ministerial duty, Mr. Goodyear was 
faithful and in all his relations with his fellow-men he was 
kind and sympathizing. No one approached him as a friend 
without feeling an answering kindness or in sorrow without 
being comforted. His sermons were the expression of an 
earnest purpose and a sincere desire to improve his hearers, 
and when he came down from the pulpit mingling wdth his 
people his religion, his gentleness, his affability did not 
forsake him. In an eminent degree he secured the love of 
his people and the respect of the community. 

Kev. I. Sumner Lincoln, now livino^ at an advanced asfe 
in Wilton, New Hampshire, has paid an appreciative tribute 
to his friend and neighbor. 


M}^ acquaintance with Mr. Goodyear commenced in 1821 when 
he entered Yale College, of which I became a member in 1818. 
After completing his academical and theological studies at Yale, 
and while preaching in pursuit of a place of settlement, he visited 
my settled home in Gardner and preached for me on Sunday a 
good sermon. Ashburnham was then destitute of a pastor. On 
Monday morning I carried him there and introduced and recom- 
mended him to the parish committee. From that time he became 
their minister and my good neighbor for nine years. During that 
time he made full proof of his gospel ministry both as a good 
preacher and pastor. He sustained a good reputation as a man 
and a minister and made many most worthy friends. After he 
left that place and I left Gardner we were widely separated for 
some years, but for the last fifteen years we have been happy 
neighbors again, he in Temple and myself in Wilton, where our 
friendly intercourse was renewed and continued to the time of his 
recent departure to his celestial home. Full of Christian faith, 
virtue and hope he has passed into the personal presence of his 
Lord and Savior. 

Rev. George Goodyear, son of Simeon and Hannah 
(Beadsly) Goodyear, was born in Hamden, Connecticut, 
December 9, 1801. The Goodyears of (Connecticut have 
been distinguished in many walks of life. Charles Good- 
year, the patentee and manufacturer of rubber wares, was a 
first cousin of the fourth minister of Ashburnham. Mr. 
Goodyear prepared for college under the tuition of Rev. 
Edward Hooker, D. D., and at Bacon Academy in Col- 
chester. He was orraduated at Yale Colleo^e 1824 and at the 
Theological Seminary in New Haven 1827. Ordained with- 
out charge July 22, 1828. Previous to his installation in 
this town he preached as stated supply at Gaines, New York, 
and at East Windsor, Connecticut. Upon his removal from 
this town after supplying nearly two years at Renerville, 
New York, he was installed over churches in Truro, 1846-9, 


South Royalston, 1849-54 and Temple, New Hampshire, 
1854-65. Mr. Goodyear was a member of the New 
Hampshire Legislature 1865 and 1866. His last dismissal 
was at his earnest desire and on account of his failing health. 
He died in Temple, where he had continued to reside, 
November 18, 1884. 

After hearing two or more candidates, the church and 
parish united in a decision to hire Rev. Edwin Jennison for 
two years. This action was soon modified. A call was 
accepted and Mr. Jennison was installed May 12, 1842, or 
within six months after the dismissal of Mr. Goodyear. In 
the first year of this pastorate the church in North Ashburn- 
ham was organized to which twenty-five members of the 
church transferred their relations. Mr. Jennison entered 
upon his labors under favorable auspices. He was an 
acceptable preacher and was justly regarded as an earnest, 
devoted minister. His health soon failed, but with fading 
strength he continued his labor until the close of the fourth 
year. The relation was dissolved May 12, 1846, and from 
the record of the proceedings it appears that- "The council 
regard Mr. Jennison with high esteem and confidence as a 
worthy Christian brother, an able and faithful preacher of 
the gospel and an affectionate pastor." 

Rev. Edwin Jennison, a son of Major William and Phoebe 
(Field) Jennison, was born in Walpole, New Hampshire, 
August 26, 1805. He was graduated at Dartmouth College 
1827, and at Andover Theological Seminary 1830. Previous 
to his labors in this town Mr. Jennison had been settled over 
churches in Walpole, his native town, 1831-5, Mont Ver- 
non, New Hampshire, 1836-41. Subsequently he was in- 
stalled at Hopkinton, New Hampshire, January 6, 1847, and 
dismissed September 5, 1849. In each instance the relation 
was dissolved on account of his feeble health. For twenty- 


five years he has been incapacitated from labor and has 
resided in Winchester, New Hampshire, and of late in Con- 
way, Massachusetts. 

The dismissal of Mr. Jennison had been anticipated. His 
tailing health had prepared his charge for the event and a 
successor was soon chosen. To Eev. Elnathan Davis a call 
was extended by the church May 25, which was ratified by 
the parish June 27, 1846. For some reason, not now 
apparent, the installation was deferred and in the mean time 
Mr. Davis continued to preach with unqualified acceptance. 
A council being convened early in September exception was 
taken to the views of the candidate on the doctrinal question 
of infant baptism. The solemnities were postponed. The 
council was recalled September 16, 1846, and recognizing 
the merit and ability of the candidate, and finding the church 
and society tenacious in their increasing desire to have the 
pastor of their choice settled over them, the installation was 
consummated. The minutes of the council are evidence that 
all the proceedings were conducted in a friendly spirit and 
that the only embarrassment was found in a difierence of 
opinion on a single question of doctrine. 

Mr. Davis was a man of positive ideas and enduring con- 
victions. He was an able preacher and an active pastor. 
His labor was incessant, knowing every member of his flock 
he kindly and faithfully ministered to them. The church 
and the parish were united, the social meetings were fully 
attended and the influences of this pastorate have been per- 
manent and salutary. In the dawn of many golden promises 
of a long and happy ministry, Mr. Davis was invited to 
attend the World's Peace Congress held in Paris in 1849. 
Knowing that this overture, if not refused, would invite a 
continued connection with the American Peace Society and 
consequently lead to a dissolution of his relations to the 



church and people of Ashburnham, he accepted the proffered 
mission with great reluctance. Soon after his return from 
Europe Mr. Davis became the secretary of the Peace Society 
and tendered his resignation as pastor of this church. He 
was formally dismissed May 21, 1851. 

Kev. Elnathan Davis, son of Ethan and Sarah (Hubbard) 
Davis, was born in Holden, August 19, 1807. Graduating 
at Williams College 1834, East Windsor (Connecticut) 
Theological Seminary 1836, he was ordained as an evangelist 
at Holden in November following. He labored in the cause 
of Home Missions several years in Indiana and Michigan. 
Eeturning to the East in 1845 he was settled in Ashburnham 
the following year. Later he was pastor of the Trinitarian 
church in Fitchburg fourteen years. In 1869 he was elected 
to the Legislature from the Fitchburg district and imme- 
diately after this service he removed to Auburn and preached 
there until 1879 and there resided until his death, April 9, 

The seventh pastor was Rev. Frederick A. Fiske who was 
installed December 30, 1851. This was a brief pastorate. 
Mr. Fiske came at a season of inactivity in the church and 
indifference in the parish. If he did not mingle with the 
people with the brotherly and ready sympathy that attended 
the walk of Mr. Davis and Mr. Goodyear, he set before them 
the example of a well ordered life and conversation. In the 
pulpit he was unemotional but instructive ; earnest but never 
eloquent ; his sermons were carefully written but delivered 
with little animation. At the close of two years of labor he 
made a request for an increase of salary. It came at an 
inopportune moment. The failure to accede to the request 
was chargeable more to the temporary condition of the parish 
than to the general impulses of the people. With fraternal 
sentiment on other points the relation was dissolved April 
17, 1854. 


Rev. Frederick Augustus Fiske, the son of the Rev. 
Elisha and Margaret (Shepard) Fiske, was born in Wren- 
tham, Massachusetts, April 15, 1816, and was prepared for 
college at Day's Academy in his native town. After his 
graduation, he at once engaged in teaching ; first as assistant 
in Washington Institute, New York city, then in Norwalk, 
Connecticut, next as principal of Monson Academy (1833-4) , 
later in Fall River, and finally as principal of the High School 
in Clinton. After taking the full course of three years at 
Yale Theological Seminary (from 1847 to 1850), he entered 
upon the work of the ministry, being ordained pastor of this 
church. For about three years from Xovember 16, 1854, 
he was pastor of the Congregational church in East Marsha 
field, Massachusetts ; for the next eight years, principal of a' 
boarding school in Newton; from 1865 to 1868, Superin- 
tendent of Education for North Carolina, under the Freed- 
men's Bureau ; and from January 26, 1869, to November 28 
of the same year, pastor of the Congregational church in 
Raynham. The remaining years of his life were spent in the 
service of the Protestant Episcopal church, his ordination as 
a deacon occurring June 25, 1870, and as a priest, November 
5, 1870. From July, 1870, to May, 1873, he was rector of 
Trinity church. Van Deusenville ; from May, 1873, to 
September, 1876, rector of St. Paul's church, Brookfield, 
Connecticut ; from September, 1876, till his death, rector of 
Grace church. North Attleborough. He died December 15, 

Mr. Fiske was succeeded by Rev. E. G. Little, who was 
installed August "^"2., 1855. This was a memorable pastorate. 
In the autumn of the first year Mr. Day, an evangelist, 
was joined with the pastor in a series of meetings which were 
fully attended. The visible fruit of their labor is found in 
the record of forty-two admissions to the church before the 


close of the year. Mr. Little was a diligent pastor. His 
sermons were wrought with care, logical in arrangement, 
sometimes orlowinof with the warmth of an ardent nature and 
always teaching the fundamental doctrines of his faith. His 
brief ministry in this town was terminated at his request 
May 13, 1857. 

Elbridge Gerry Little was born in Hampstead, New 
Hampshire, November 11, 1817. He was a son of Joseph 
and Rebecca (Webster) Little. At an early age he com- 
menced teaching. Mainly meeting the expenses of a liberal 
education by his own efforts, he fitted for college under the 
instruction of Prof. Benjamin Greenleaf of Bradford and 
entered the college of Nassau Hall at Princeton, New Jersey, 
in sophomore year, graduating in the class of 1845. He 
pursued a full course of study at Princeton Theological 
Seminary and was licensed to preach in April, 1848. His 
first charge was at Manayunk, Pennsylvania, a suburb of 
Philadelphia. Returning to New England in 1850, he was 
installed over the church in Merrimack, New Hampshire, in 
September of that year. After his dismissal from this 
church and after preaching a year or more in Middleborough 
he was installed over the church in that place April 13, 1859, 
and dismissed September 15, 1867. Mr. Little then removed 
to Wellesley where he was mainly engaged in secular and 
literary pursuits until his death which occurred December 
29, 1869. 

Succeeding Mr. Little, Rev. Thomas Boutelle supplied the 
pulpit nearly six years, from the spring of 1857 to January, 
1863. His health was not firm and afforded so little assurance 
of continued service that a call was not extended. The friend- 
ly offices of an ecclesiastical council were not invoked and the 
neighboring churches were permitted a brief respite from 
attendance upon the accustomed solemnities in this place. 


Mr. Boutelle was greatly beloved. His sympathies were 
warm and constant, his friendship was enduring and his 
interest in the highest welfare of his charge was unabated. 
The memories of this pastorate are savory and imperishable. 
With generous impulses was joined the constant force of 
superior mental endowment guided by wisdom and prudence. 
Always instructive, sometimes eloquent, he was at once an 
able and a popular preacher. In 1862 he was elected to the 
Leo^islature from the Winchendon and Ashburnham district. 

Rev. Thomas Boutelle, son of James and Abigail (Fair- 
banks) Boutelle, was born in Leominster, February 1, 1805. 
He completed his preparatory studies at New Ipswich and 
entering Amherst College at the age of twenty years he was 
graduated in the class of 1829 and at Andover Theological 
Seminary 1832. After a short engagement with the Ameri- 
can Educational Society, he was ordained and installed over 
the Congregational church in Plymouth, May 21, 1834; 
dismissed March 23, 1837. His next charge was at Wood- 
stock, Connecticut, where he remained twelve years. From 
1850 to 1856 he labored at Bath, New Hampshire. At the 
close of his pastorate in this town he removed to Fitchburg 
and there conducted a bookstore, preaching occasionally as 
oppoi-tunity was oftered. He died suddenly of heart disease 
November 28, 1866. 

The supply of Mr. Boutelle was succeeded by the settle- 
ment of Rev. George E. Fisher who was installed May 21, 
1863. It was a successful ministry. The church was 
united and increased in membership and the parish strength- 
ened. His sermons were thoughtful and instructive and his 
social relations were firmly supported by enduring friend- 
ship. In 1867 he represented the district in the Legislature. 
His request for a dismissal reluctantly granted by the church 
and parish was approved by a council convened September 
2, 1867. 


Rev. George E. Fisher, son of Rev. George and Mary 
(Fiske) Fisher, was born in Harvard January 22, 1823. 
Pursuing his preparatory study under the tuition of his 
father and at the Lawrence Academy in Groton, he was 
graduated at Amherst College 1846, and at Andover Theo- 
logical Seminary 1849. He was successively settled over 
the church in Rutland February 27, 1850 ; the North church 
in Amherst September 16, 1852 ; the church in Mason 
Village (now Greenville), New Hampshire, June 22, 1859. 
Following his removal from this town Mr. Fisher was 
installed over the church in South Hadley Falls September 
2, 1867, and over the East church in Amherst December 10, 
1879, where he remains an active and successful pastor. 

Leaving Mr. Fisher, the ninth and last minister who 
received installation, the church and parish entered an era 
of supply as yet unbroken. The ministry has been con- 
tinuous and not without a character of stability. 

Rev. Moody A. Stevens was employed three years com- 
mencing in 1867. During this period the meeting-house 
was thoroughly repaired and it is probable the progress of 
his labor was considerably interrupted by the activities of 
the parish. He was a devoted man and he earnestly and 
faithfully labored for the highest good of his people. He was 
singularly free from ostentation, prudent in his methods and 
manifested a friendly interest in the welfare of his parish. 
Being a cultured musician he took a lively interest in church 
music and enlivened the social meetings with the spirit of 
song. His ministry was successful. 

Rev. Moody A. Stevens, son of David and Elizabeth 
(Ryder) Stevens, was born in Bedford, New Hampshire, 
February 7, 1828. He fitted for college at Phillips Acad- 
emy, Andover, and at Exeter, New Hampshire, and at 
twenty years of age he entered Dartmouth Colleo^e. His 


health failed and he did not complete a course of study at 
that time. For seven years he made a thorough study of 
music and was a student and instructor in Boston and in 
St. Johns, New Brunswick. Subsequently he completed 
his academical studies at the University of New York and 
is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary. In 1861 
he was chaplain four months of the Second New York City 
Volunteers. He was ordained and installed over the church 
in Plymouth December 9, 1862. Since his labors in this 
town he has supplied at Anoka, Michigan, and at Minne- 
apolis, Minnesota, and is now temporarily residing in 

The following six years and until 1876 the pulpit was 
supplied by Kev. Leonard S. Parker. He is a man of 
strono' convictions but orenerous in all his relations to his 
fellow-men. A diligent pastor, a frequent visitor in the 
schools, a willing supporter of every laudable enterprise the 
pastorate is a record of labor and substantial results. The 
Gushing Academy was opened while Mr. Parker was 
preaching in this place. June 10, 1874, he was elected a 
trustee of that institution and is now in duration of service 
the foui*th member of the board. 

Rev. Leonard S. Parker, son of William and Martha 
(Tenney) Parker, was born in Dunbarton, New Hampshire, 
December 6, 1812. He pursued his preparatory studies at 
the academies in Hampton and Hopkinton, New Hampshire, 
and at the Boston Latin School, and is a graduate of 
Dartmouth College and Oberlin Theological Seminary. In 
early life he enlisted in the anti-slavery movement, and his 
public efforts elicited the favorable notice of Giddings and 
other pioneers in the cause. He has been settled over 
churches in Mansfield, Ohio ; Providence, Rhode Island ; 
West Brookfield and Haverhill ; and Derry, New Hampshire. 


Following his ministry in this town he supplied at Miller's 
Falls and Turner's Falls, preaching each Sabbath at 
churches four miles distant and having a class in each 
Sunday-school. At the commencement of these labors both 
were mission churches, but during the ministry of Mr. 
Parker both became self-supporting and erected houses of 
worship. At present Mr. Parker is acting pastor of the 
Congregational church in Berkley. 

Mr. Parker was immediately succeeded by Kev. Daniel E. 
Adams, who was acting pastor from July 16, 1876, to July 
5, 1885. In duration the ministry of Mr. Goodyear exceeds 
that of Mr. Adams by only a few Sabbaths ; and, except the 
prolonged ministry of Dr. Gushing, no other pastorate of 
this church has been continued an equal length of time. 
Assuming without hesitation the prerogatives of his sacred 
calling, Mr. Adams preached the whole truth but with a 
sincerity and kindness that provoked neither bitterness nor 
controversy. In his administration of the affairs of the 
church he pursued a pacific policy and his ministry was an 
era of concord and harmony. The memory of the fraternal 
relations continuously maintained in the church and parish is 
a living tribute to his judicious ministry in the pulpit and 
among the people. Of the one hundred and fifty funerals 
attended by Mr. Adams while in this town, the extreme age 
of two of the deceased is remarkable. The funeral of Mrs. 
Emma (Willard) Skelton, aged 103 years and 10 months, 
occurred November 7, 1881, and that of Golonel Charles 
Barrett, aged 97 years and 4 months, June 10, 1885. 

Kev. Daniel E. Adams, son of Kev. Darwin and Catherine 
(Smith) Adams, was born in Hollis, New Hampshire, June 
22, 1832. His grandfather was Daniel Adams, the author 
of Adams' Arithmetic and other popular school-books, and 
his mother was the daughter of Kev. Eli Smith of Hollis, 




">ew Hampshire. Gr^dvintr _ -t Bangor TViroin^^-^a"! '^^rni- 
nfiry 1860, Mr. d and 

Second Congregational church, \" iinpshiro, 

December 5, 1800, and dismissed Muy t), i^:! . 
December 5, 1885, he has been acting pas* " ■ *" *' 
Congregational chiir. h of S<''atbboro.' 

Durinsr sevcx ^tween the pastorates and 

>v!i i, railed upon by absence 

supply, Rev. Josiah D. Crosby oi' this town L 
present help in every time of need. He supplier ^ 
uously during the al.-it'.nce of ^.T' . T>;.v*s in Ei^todo 
'] ' . i-eo-ate be has preached 

ih ve been in charge. Any record * 

minif^iij ojl this chur^ Id be incomplete wit}: 

generous recognition of li- -ding service. Ilis •'■* 
tlie prosperity of thr ; burcli ai-! ];;,ri>h hvo b^on 
IV 1 matter; 

solicit:^'! and .heerfulJv ihe sick 

he has been an attentive fi' 

jfi <). i;^' iiA:!i atiu in- 


Eev. Josiah P ■ '' 
:T>nvis) Crosb; nTib:;ir!. ^I^rcb 1, • 

-n«d his Academ 

su. ja . iuvvyei in Ashbuinham. At the age oi iiftti;Li year;: 

Mitured Amherst College and not completi^ ' "■ ^ ' 
:: hat institution he entered senior year at I 
grarUiating in class of 1^26. He studied tbecloi: 
dov'i and was preach bj^the North W or< 


' '■ Rev. i -\\^.^ii" 

w Hanii !id w;i~ 

fjplied at New Butfalo fr. 
dy 1, 1»58, an 
;-DCi=...u.ucr 1, 1862, 


New Hampshire. Graduating at Bangor Theological Semi- 
nary 1860, Mr. Adams was ordained and installed over the 
Second Congregational church, Wilton, New Hampshire, 
December 5, 1860, and dismissed May 5, 1876. Since 
December 5, 1885, he has been acting pastor of the Pilgrim 
Cono^reo^ational church of Southboro.' 

During several of the intervals between the pastorates and 
when called upon by the sickness or absence of the stated 
supply, Kev. Josiah D. Crosby of this town has been a 
present help in every time of need. He supplied contin- 
uously during the absence of Mr. Davis in Europe and in 
the aggregate he has preached more Sabbaths than some of 
the pastors who have been in charge. Any record of the 
ministry of this church would be incomplete without a 
o^enerous recoo:nition of his willinc; service. His interest in 
the prosperity of the church and parish has been unfailing, 
and in matters of moment his advice frequently has been 
solicited and cheerfully given, and to the sick and the aged 
he has been an attentive friend. 

Eev. Josiah Davis Crosby, eldest son of Fitch and Rebecca 
(Davis) Crosby, was born in Ashburnham, March 1, 1807. 
He pursued his preparatory studies at New Ipswich Academy 
and under the tuition of Ephraim M. Cunningham, Esq., 
then a lawyer in Ashburnham. At the age of fifteen years, 
he entered Amherst College and not completing the course 
in that institution he entered senior year at Union College 
graduating in class of 1826. He studied theology at An- 
dover and was licensed to preach by the North Worcester 
Association in 1830. October 4, 1837, he was installed 
colleague to the venerable Rev. Laban Ainsworth over the 
church at Jafi*rey Centre, New Hampshire, and was dismissed 
May 18, 1845. He supplied at New Bufi'alo from October 1, 
1857, to July 1, 1858, and from September 1, 1861, to 
September 1, 1862. 


Here at the close of one hundred and twenty-five years 
the record ends. Nine ministers have been installed over 
the church and five have supplied about twenty-five years. 
The ministry of Mr. Gushing was a continent of time and in 
comparison the shorter pastorates were little islands in an 
adjacent sea. Yet each of them, influenced in some measure 
by its climate, has produced fruit in accordance with the 
tillage of the vineyard. The ministry has been continuous 
and in its character it has been able and substantial. If the 
pulpit has been graced by none who have electrified audiences 
and by the power of eloquence have swayed the passions of 
men, each in his sphere has been an acceptable preacher and, 
apparently, more concerned to secure the approval of his 
Master than the applause of men, has faithfully discharged 
his duty to the church and to the parish. 

The ofiices of the church in formino- and mouldins: character 
and in its ministrations to the souls of men form a part of the 
unwritten history of another world. The visible results of 
the record aggregate the admission of one thousand and 
twenty-six to its membership, beside the few names that 
escaped record during the ministry of Mr. Winchester. Of 
these, four hundred and two have died in full relations 
and four hundred and forty have been dismissed, a few 
with censure but generally with recommendation to other 
churches. There have been convened sixteen ecclesiastical 
councils for the settlement and dismissal of ministers and 
only one in arbitration upon a proceeding of discipline, and 
this church has been invited, to meet in nearly one hundred 
councils upon the afiairs of other churches. 

Through all these years the church in Ashburnham has 
remained steadfast to its early principles, yet ready to accept 
the enlargement of its creed which has attended the progress 
of the age. In the succession of worshippers they have 



borne the prayer and the praise of four generations. In 
blameless lives, in self-denial, in devotion and in courage 
they have honored the fathers who planted the vine in the 
wilderness. As a thousand tender memories warm the heart, 
the influence of their faith and devotion, as reflected in the 
record, will become the enduring inheritance of their suc- 

Since the organization of the church the following persons 
have officiated as deacons : 

Moses Foster, 


resigned 1769, died Oct. 17, 1785. 

Samuel Fellows, 


removed to Shelburne 1772. 

Tristram Cheney, 


removed to Antrim, N. H., 1773. 

John Willard, 


died July 4, 1793. 

Samuel Wilder, 


died May 9, 1798. 

Peter Stone, 


removed to Townsend 1799. 

Jacob Harris, 


died in Windham, N.H., Sept. 26, 1826, 

Elisha White, 


died June 14, 1817. 

Sherebiah Hunt, 


died March 6, 1826. 

Samuel Ward, 


resigned 1843. 

William J. Lawrence, 


died July 8, 1844. 

Daniel Jones, 


dismissed to Union Church 1843. 

John C. Glazier, 


dismissed to Methodist Church, 1857. 

Amos Taylor, 


removed to Ashby 1851. 

John A. Conn, 


removed to Fitchburg 1865. 

William P. Ellis, 


resigned 1862. 

Harvey Brooks, 


removed to Gardner. 

David Laws, 


removed to Worcester 1871. 

J. Newton Hastings, 


resigned 1877. 

Charles E. Woodward 

, 1870, 

resigned 1877. 

Since 1877 the deacons have been elected for a limited 
term but are eligible to reelection. The new system com- 
prises the election of two deacons every other year for the 
term of four years. Under this arrangement the following 
persons have been chosen and are continued in office : 

J. Newton Hastings, 1877. 

Charles E. Woodward, 1877. 

Mortimer M. Stowe, 1877. 

George W. Eddy, 1883. 











Conspicuous in the annals of Ashburnham are the very 
early measures concerning the location and building of the 
first meeting-house. The worship of God in a stated form 
was a subject of earnest concern and solicitude. The "hill 
with a very fair prospect " was fitly chosen for the site of 
the temple in the forest. The work was not sufiered to 
sleep. At a date which excites no small measure of surprise 
and far in advance of other settlements a meeting-house was 
built in 1739 or possibly very early in 1740. At a later 
period, the abandonment of the settlement and, owing to 
disturbance excited by continued war, the tardy return of 
the settlers did not permit its use for many years ; but the 
edifice inviting occupancy remained as a monument to the 
enterprise and faith of its builders. True it was a long time 
before it was completed to the satisfaction of the proprietors, 
but through all the period of repairs and amendments it 



could be used, and in the light of the times with some 
degree of comfort. 

Rev. Dr. Gushing speaking midway between the event 
and the present has preserved the information that this was 
the first framed building erected in Ashburnham and that 
it was raised by only sixteen men. It may be inferred that 
an event like the raising of a meeting-house invited the 
whole settlement to the scene of action. It is more proba- 
ble that some came from Lunenburg than that any settler 
remained at home. At this time the proprietors would not 
be sustained in the declaration that there were thirty men 
residing here. The vote of the proprietors insti*ucting Mr. 
Mossman to nail up the windows and doors, and their com- 
mittal of this meeting-house in the wilderness to the care of 
Him in whose service it had been reared and its wonderful 
preservation during the French and Indian War, add new 
interest to its history. Reversing the traditions of the 
temple of Janus, whose gates were thrown open in time of 
war and only closed under the mild commands of peace, our 
fathers closed their temple in this season of danger and 
opened it not until the land was quieted and messages of a 
sweeter peace were spoken beneath its roof. The records 
relate the progi*ess of the improvements made upon the 
building in the early years of its occupancy and convey 
impressions which would be lost if stated in other language : 

1752. Voted that all the windows saving the four lower windows 

in the south side of the meeting-house, which four win- 
dows are to be glazed, the others to be fully boarded up 
for the present. 

1753. Voted that a tax of ten shilhngs on each right lawful money 

be paid by the third Wednesday in May next towards 
finishing the meeting-house. 


1755. Voted that a tax of three shillings lawful money be laid on 
each right for doing something for the meeting-house to 
secure it from the weather. 

1759. Voted that Mr. Elisha Coolidge be appointed to bord up 
the window places in the meeting-house with rough 
bords to keep out the wet and to make window shuts for 
two of the windows that are most convenient to let in 
the light when there shall be preaching there. 

In 1760 a minister was settled and in commemoration of 
the event the sum of forty pounds, to which eight pounds 
was added the following year, amounting to more than the 
original cost of construction, was expended, and now for 
the first time was the house referred to as finished. 

Moses Foster, Caleb Wilder and Caleb Dana, one resi- 
dent and two non-resident proprietors, were chosen to 
conduct the repairs and assign the several pews to future 
owners. The work was substantially completed before July 
31, 1760, for at that time the committee report the assign- 
ment of a part of the pews. The ponderous pulpit of the 
past century was built upon the north side of the room, stairs 
were erected to the unfinished galleries and there were 
doors in the centre of the three remaining sides. On the out- 
side of the room, nineteen rectangular pews or enclosures, 
constructed after the custom of the time, occupied the spaces 
between the pulpit and the doors. Possibly there were 
two additional pews on the south side, making twenty-one 
in all. The central space surrounded by the pews was not 
occupied at this time. First west of the pulpit were the 
stairs, and next was the pew assigned to the ministry. The 
next was in the corner and was given to Caleb Wilder of 
Lancaster, and between that and the west door were the 
pews of Richard Dana and Moses Foster, Jr. The first pew 
south of the west door was assio:ned to Jeremiah Foster. 


Passing by four, possibly five pews not assigned, the first 
one west of the south door is given to Caleb Dana of Cam- 
bridge who then owned eight rights in the township. No 
other pews were then disposed of except the five which 
filled the space between the west door and the pulpit and 
these were given to Jonathan Samson, Jonathan Gates, 
John Mofiatt of Boston, Elisha Coolidge and Deacon Moses 
Foster. The pew of Mr. Moifatt was in the northwest 
corner and that of Deacon Foster was nearest the pulpit. 
The report of the committee, each of them having secured 
a good pew for himself, concludes with the remark, "the 
remaining pew ground we have not disposed of no other pro- 
prietors appearing whom we thought had the best right to 
pews there." This information explains the omission in their 
report of the names of James Coleman, Thomas Wheeler, 
John Bates, Wright Brown and other residents. 

The German settlers, a majority of whom were members 
of the church, and others living on the independent grants, 
not being proprietors, could only come into possession of 
pews by purchase from some proprietor to whom one had 
been assigned. Further proceedings of the proprietors 
were obstructed by the act of incorporation and in this 
condition the meeting-house was transferred to their legal 

Assuming the powers and duties of a town, the inhabi- 
tants of Ashburnham in 1765 came into possession and 
control of the first meeting-house, and in accordance with 
the laws and usages of the times the town in its corporate 
capacity began to exercise the functions of a parish. In the 
settlement and dismissal of a minister the church had a con- 
current vote, but the control and repair of the meeting- 
house, the salary of the minister and all other parochial 
afiairs were debated and determined in open town meeting. 


The maintenance of the stated ministrations of the Gospel 
involved an outer and an inner organization ; the first em- 
braced all the citizens of the town, while the latter was 
limited to the membership of the church. If, in the present 
light, such relations appear inconsistent it should be remem- 
bered that the people generally were in full sympathy with 
the creed of the prevailing church and that few, if any, were 
unwilling to pay their proportion of the tax assessed upon 
all for the support of the ministry. Whatever opposition 
the system finally provoked in this town, no suggestion of 
discontent was heard for many years. The early records 
are a continued nan*ative of concord and harmony. With 
unusual unanimity the people mourned the loss of their first 
pastor and joined in the selection and settlement of his 

During the many years the town continued to discharge 
the offices of a parish the settlement of Mr. Gushing was the 
only occasion it was called upon to assume the bustle and 
parade incident to an ordination of the olden time. That 
the town realized the solemnity of the occasion and was fully 
equal to the emergency is fully demonstrated. First, they 
chose one of the deacons to preside over the town meeting 
at which the important preliminaries were arranged, and 
then graciously admitted all the freeholders to the privilege 
of voting on the pending questions . The records portray 
the gravity of these proceedings . 

Y^ town Chose Mr. John Gushing to settle in y^ ministry by a 
unanimous vote, also voted y* all y^ freeholders Should vote in 
sum y* they Should Give to y^ minister. Y® town voted to give 
Mr. John Gushing one Hundred thirty- three Pounds, six shillings 
and Eight Pence for settlement to be Payd in money and Labour. 

It was eventually paid with gi'eat labor. After voting 
that the annual salary of Mr. Gushing should be sixty pounds 


and at the end of seven years it should be increased to 
sixty-six and two-thirds pounds, the town made choice of 
Samuel Wilder, Elisha Coolidge and Ephraim Stone to com- 
municate these propositions to Mr. Gushing. At a subse- 
quent meeting it was ordered "y* y^ first Wednesday of 
november next Should be y*^ ordination" (November 2, 
1768). " Y'' town voted to send to seven churches to y^ ordi- 
nation." "Y^ town voted to Give Capt. Wilder four Pounds 
to Provide for y^ Counsel with this Proviso y* y*^ Cap^'^ Should 
Keep an exact acompt of y° Cost and if y^ town shall think 
y* he bears too big a Proportion y* they will Consider him." 

The toAvn further stipulated that the salary should be paid 
annually and that one-fourth of the settlement should be 
paid in labor and directed that " Mr. Keperlinger and Mr. 
Ephraim Stone and William Joyner should be y*^ Committee 
to see y* y"^ work be done as Mr. Cushing wants it." The 
financial problems being solved, there was remaining an 
article "to Chuse men to Keep y^ Doors and Sects of y® 
meeting-house till y^ Church and Counsel have taken their 
Sects," and a committee was chosen to carry into eflfect this 
respectful impulse of the town. It is not a duty, however, 
to conceal the fact that a majority of the voters on this 
occasion were members of the church and consequently in 
this polite attention to the church and council they were 
tendering an acceptable compliment to themselves. 

The gratuity granted Mr. Cushing as a settlement in addi- 
tion to his stated salary was in conformity with the customs 
of the time. It will be remembered that by the conditions 
of the original charter of this township, a right of land was 
bestowed on the first settled minister and another reserved 
for the use of the ministry. While Mr. Cushing continued 
to enjoy the use of one reservation the other had been given 
unconditionally to Mr. Winchester. The conditions w^ere 



similar in other towns. The custom of granting settlements 
was desisfnecl to bestow on the successors the same des^ree of 
favor they had granted to the first settled minister. To pay 
the gratuity granted Mr. Gushing the town borrowed the 
greater part of Colonel Caleb Wilder of Lancaster and sub- 
sequently cancelled the debt by clearing land with labor 
which was accepted in payment of taxes. 

It is impossible to determine what benefit Mr. Cushing 
received from the use of the ministerial lands. One lot was 
sold in 1794 and in consideration of his consent to the sale 
the town thereafter furnished him thirty cords of wood 
annually or paid an equivalent in money. It is worthy of 
note that during the long ministry of Mr. Cushing the 
annual salary proposed in 1768 was never changed. On 
one or more occasions an increase was ordered but the vote 
was reconsidered before another payment was made. At 
the close of the Revolution remuneration was made for the 
depreciated currency and later the payments were rendered 
in Federal money, but from the close of the first seven years 
to the end of his ministry the salary was neither lessened 
nor increased. The salary of Mr. Winchester was sixty 
pounds which was paid by the proprietors until the date of 
incorporation. The town assumed the original contract and 
continued to pay the same amount. 

Scarcely had the town succeeded to the control of affairs 
before a storm came and beat upon the meeting-house. 
Contrary to either scriptural precedent it neither stood nor 
fell. The gale in the summer of 1766 moved the building 
from its foundation but the injury was repaired. Referring 
to this event, Dr. Cushing states, "that in the summer of 
1766 a hurricane passed over this hill and made a wreck of 
the meeting-house, and moved it to the north and to the east 
two or three feet. It was thought at first that it could not 


be repaired but it was and stood until 1791;" or in the 
language of Tristram Cheney, "The house of public worship 
has lately been struck by a hurricane and the cost to repair 
cannot be less than £30." The following year and about 
three months before the death of Mr. Winchester, Samuel 
Fellows, Tristram Cheney and Elisha Coolidge were in- 
structed to brace up the galleries and to repair the roof. A 
corner of a leaf of the records is gone and an account of these 
repairs is partially lost, but Jeremiah Foster, Jr., was paid 
four shillings and eight pence " for peeling the bark for the 
meeting-house," which probably was used in repairing the 
roof. The next repairs were under a vote to lay the floor 
in the front gallery, build a pair of stairs in the southwest 
corner and mend the glass. This was followed by an order 
in 1771, "to give Jacob Harris, Daniel Priest, Peter Joslin, 
Samuel Joslin, Oliver Wilder, Francis Dickerson and John 
Oberlock, Jr., the room in the front gallery, behind the seats 
that are now built, to build a long pew on." At the same 
meeting a committee was appointed "to seat the meeting- 
house according to age and pay." 

In 1772, the meeting-house was underpinned in a sub- 
stantial manner and to keep pace with the increase in popu- 
lation additional accommodations were arranged in the un- 
occupied portions of the galleries. At this time the glass 
was set in the remainder of the windows and the following 
year it was decreed that " eight persons that will be at the 
cost of finishing ofi* the room behind the seats on the west 
side of the gallery may have it," and "likewise eight other 
persons may have the east side at the same rate." 

Notwithstanding these repeated measures "to finish the 
meeting-house," it is probable that even in the estimation of 
our fathers it never was finished and that further work was 
delayed by the Revolution and later by the contemplation of 


a new and more commodious house. In the condition set 
forth in the records and confirmed by tradition the town con- 
tinued to occupy it and to compensate in some measure the 
decay of years until near the close of the century. Beneath 
its unpretentious roof Mr. Winchester was accustomed to 
meet his flock and here Mr. Gushing expounded the doctrines 
of his faith during the first twenty-three years of his pro- 
longed ministry. Before its humble altar two hundred or 
more were admitted to the church and over six hundred 
children were presented for the ordinance of baptism. It is 
supposed that none are now living who ever entered within 
its primitive walls. It humbly served its day and generation 
and the first meeting-house in Ashburnham will ever remain 
a conspicuous figure in the annals of the settlement. Actu- 
ated by this sentiment, the town, in 1882, erected an appro- 
priate tablet on the ground where it stood, both as a memorial 
of the past and as an index directing future generations to a 
locality around which the earliest and most sacred memories 
of the town will linger with unfailing delight. The cere- 
monies occurred July 4, and an appropriate address was 
delivered by Melvin O. Adams, Esq. 

The inference is just and honorable to our fathers that a 
decision to remove the old house was not reached until the 
increasing wealth and population of the town demanded a 
more pretentious and commodious structure. How long or 
how earnestly the question of building a new meeting-house 
was debated, what arguments were presented on either side, 
with what reverence they regarded the old, or with what 
anticipations they contemplated a new house, cannot now be 
determined. The decision was not reached without serious 
conference and debate among individuals, but so far as the 
town is concerned, the decisive blow was struck without a 
note of warning or any bustle of preparation. A warrant 


for a town meeting issued October 16, 1789, contains the 
first reference to the subject. It Avas then proposed "to see 
if the town are willing to build a new Meeting House and to 
pass such votes as shall be necessary for that purpose, viz. : 
to agree upon a spot of land to set said House and to choose 
Committees that may appear to be necessary to carry on the 
work." The meeting was assembled October 30 and the 
record proceeds : " The question being put whether the Town 
are willing to build a new meeting-house and it passed in the 
affirmative. Also voted to set the new house as near the 
other meeting-house as may be and not to place it on the 
same ground. Also voted to choose a committee of seven 
persons to make a draft of a meeting-house and chose Mr. 
Caleb Kendall, Mr. Samuel Foster, Lieut. Munroe, Samuel 
Wilder, Col. Lane, Mr. Joseph Whitmore and Lieut. John 
Adams for said committee and then said meeting was 
adjourned to the 6th day of November next." This com- 
mittee is charged with grave responsibilities. To present a 
single plan that would be accepted by a majority of their 
townsmen is no ordinary undertaking. 

While they are studying the models found in the older 
towns, we are left at liberty to notice the measure of respect 
shown them in prefixing titles to their names. With one 
exception all are honored with a title, and in the solitary 
omission Samuel Wilder modestly announces that he was the 
clerk who made the record. Formerly, the law of usage in 
regard to civic, military and ecclesiastical titles was inex- 
orable. Whenever an individual was advanced from the 
plane of mediocrity to the honors of a deacon, a justice or 
military command, his name was subsequently spoken and 
written in connection with the distinguishing title which 
announced the rank and new importance of the individual. 
Samuel Wilder was a captain and a deacon but he was never 
styled Captain Wilder after he had reached the honors of a 


deacon; but when he was commissioned a justice of the 
peace, Esquire Wilder rose in triumph over his former self. 
The following scholiums are apparent. In the former em- 
ployment of titles many nice discriminations were made. A 
deacon was next in honor and importance above a captain, 
while an esquire easily ranked both the deacon and the 
captain and even contested honors with the major and the 

The town being assembled according to adjournment a 
matured plan was presented for the consideration of the 
town : 

The Committee chosen the 30"' of October last have made the 
following draft of a meeting-house viz : that said House be sixty 
feet in length and forty-five feet in width, twenty-six feet between 
joints with two porches and a cover over the front door ; with an 
elder's seat for people who are hard of hearing between the 
deacons seat and the pulpit ; 70 Pewes : 46 below and twenty-four 
above. The Pewes to be sold at Vendue to the highest bidder. 
Boards and Shingles and Clapboards to be got in the same way. 
The Committee propose to begin to fraim the house on the 20*^ 
of May in the 3^ear of our Lord 1791. The question was then 
asked whether the report should be accepted and it passed in the 
affirmative. It was then voted to choose nine men to be a com- 
mittee to direct the building of the new meeting-house. Also 
voted to set the new meeting-house back so far as the burying 
yard wall and that the east end of the house be placed six feet 
east of the west end of the old house. 

The leno'th of both meetino-houses extended from east to 
west. The new house was a short distance north of the old 
and extended westerly fifty-four feet beyond it. There is no 
record of the choice of the committee of nine ordered by the 
town, but incidental references to the progress of the work, 
under the direction of a building committee, render it 
certain that such a committee was chosen. And at a subse- 
quent meeting it was " voted to dismiss the old committee 



for' building the meeting-house and chose Samuel Wilder, 
Joshua Smith, Esq., and Samuel Foster a committee to 
compleat the work." 

The Second Meeting-House ix Ashburnham, Ereijted 1791. 

The new committee vigorously forwarded the Avork. The 
frame was raised May 24 and the house was completed 
November 4, 1791. Three days later the town accepted the 
iinal report of the committee, and the new meeting-house 
was dedicated w^th appropriate ceremonies on the tenth of 
the same month. In anticipation of the completion of the 
house the pews were sold and the proceeds of the sale Avas 
applied to the cost of construction. The records aiford very 
little information concernins^ the cost of the house. The 
town appropriated in all one hundred and sixty pounds, and 
added to this sum the amount received from the sale of the 
old house which was torn down in October. It is therefore 
apparent that the greater part of the cost of the new meeting- 
house was paid Avith money received from the sale of the 


In 1808, the town paid Jacob Fairbanks for building four 
additional pews on the ground floor. These were sold at 
auction for the sum of three hundred and ninety-two dollars. 
The proceeds of this sale was the origin of the pew notes 
which became a bone of contention between the town and 
the parish. 

To paint the new meeting-house in becoming color next 
demanded the attention and united wisdom of the town. 
Every citizen was privileged to vote and it was the concur- 
rent taste of the town that "the color should be a pea green." 
The meeting was assembled at a season of the year when the 
vernal sun first begins to warm the brown and russet fields 
which gayly respond with the springing blade and bursting 
leaf, and in warm sympathy with nature as she paints the 
earth in the fresh liveries of green, the town produces it& 
first poem. For some reason there was a delay in carrying 
the vote into effect. At a meeting assembled March 2, 1798, 
having escaped an inspiration to copy the yellow of the 
harvest or the crimson and gold of the autumn, and behold- 
ing the earth covered with the snow and ice of winter, they 
consistently resolve to reconsider the former vote and to 
paint the meeting-house white. 

The town continued in the faithful performance of the 
auxiliary offices of a parish until 1824. The causes which 
led to the dissolution of the long established relations between 
the town and the church are apparent. The system was not 
in harmony Avith the spirit of our Government. In the dual 
organization, the members of the church and those in full 
sympathy with them were a majority of the town, and by 
their controlling voice the minority were annually taxed 
under a continued protest. The spirit of tolerance some- 
times abated a resisted tax, but it presented no argument in 
support of the general principles involved. Indeed, the 


majority, conscious of the injustice of the system, secured 
its continuance many years by the exercise of a commend- 
able degree of tolerance to those who stoutly resisted, yet 
excusing the act in a plea of the sacred use to which the 
money was devoted, they exacted tribute from all who only 
passively objected. Like every revolution of a system the 
beginning was remote from the end and early efforts produced 
no immediate effect. Manifestations of discontent and the 
responsive answers of a spirit of tolerance gradually led to 
the abatement of so considerable a part of the taxes assessed 
that the system was practically overthrown some years before 
the outward forms were abandoned. During the last year 
of this nominal connection, warrants for town meetings for 
the transaction of parochial business were addressed to all 
the inhabitants qualified to vote who are members of the 
Congregational society. The town clerk attended these 
meetings and recorded the proceedings in the town records. 
Under this amended system, the town only assessed those 
for the support of the parish whose consent was first obtained. 
This procedure virtually created a voluntary parish for which 
the town was only an agent and in such capacity continued 
to call meetings and to assess and collect the annual taxes. 
In principle it was an amendment on the former system, con- 
taining the germ which speedily developed in the organization 
of a permanent religious society. % 

Among the many votes of the town expressive of public 
sentiment on the subject of the preceding paragraph is an 
order adopted in 1781 that Jacob Willard, Jacob Kiblinger, 
John Kiblinger, Nathan Bigelow, Jacob Constantine, Joshua 
Holden, Elisha Coolidge, Ebenezer Conant, Jr., and Jonathan 
Taylor be excused from the payment of a minister tax for 
that year. In 1797 Colonel Francis Lane was excused from 
the payment of the same tax. Immediately after the com- 


pletion of the second meeting-house, in response to the 
request of certain individuals, the town "Voted that the 
Baptist Society have leave to meet in tlie new meeting-house 
on week days for religious worship by applying to the door- 
keeper for the keys. Also when it shall so happen that the 
Church and Congregation usually meeting in said house are 
destitute of a preacher and do not want to use said house on 
the Sabbath that said Baptist Society shall have leave to 
meet in said house." Encouraged by this proceeding the 
town was requested " to abate the minister tax laid on the 
non-resident lands owned by the Baptists." Upon this 
proposition the town voted in the negative. The final paro- 
chial service of the town occurred in 1823 and 1824. The 
town assumed the expenses of the funeral of Rev. Dr. 
Cushing amounting to $65.45, and continued the salary until 
the following November. It also joined with the church in 
extending a call to Rev. George Perkins and directed the 
arrangements for his ordination. These offices at the eve of 
a dissolution of the relations between the town and the church 
were a fitting conclusion of a continued and honorable service. 
So far as the town was concerned, the only remaining topics 
of a kindred nature were the custody of the meeting-house 
and the control of the ministerial funds. The debate on 
these points between the town and the Congregational society 
can be presented more clearly after the other party to the 
controversy^ has been introduced. 

The causes which suggested the organization of an inde- 
pendent parish consecutively follow those which led to the 
termination of the former relations. In the early history ot 
the town nearly all the inhabitants were united in matters of 
religion and they adopted the readiest and most feasible 
method of sustaining public worship. The removal into 
town of families of other denominations and the alienation 


of as many from the standing church and particuhirly the 
rapid growth of the Methodist society, and the bolder inde- 
pendence of those who adhered to neither the Orthodox, 
Methodist, Baptist nor any other creed, made it clearly 
apparent that every denomination should assume the control 
and management of its prudential aftairs. The expediency 
of such an oro-anization was seriously debated durins^ the last 
years of the ministry of Dr. Gushing. Indeed, an association 
at that time was formed but " The Congregational Society or 
First Parish" did not have a legal existence until April 27, 
1824, a short time after the settlement of Rev. George 
Perkins. At that date the society assumed the offices of a 
parish and has continued an efficient ally of the church with 
w^hich it has been connected until the present time. The 
petition for a meeting of organization, dated April 8, 1824, 
was signed by Ivers Jewett, Oliver Marble, Charles Barrett, 
Elisha White, Fitch Crosby, Asa Woods, Grover Scollay, 
Joshua Townsend, Abraham Lowe, Joseph Eice and Dod- 
dridge Cushing. That eighty-one or more members were 
present at the first meeting is shown by a statement in the 
records that " the whole number of votes for a clerk of the 
parish was 81 and all for Charles Barrett." At the same 
meeting over w^hich Timothy Stearns w^as called to preside, 
Joseph Jewett, Esq., Elias Lane and Walter Russell were 
selected for assessors. The duties of this office were more 
onerous than the term suggests. Li addition to the assess- 
ment of taxes the assessors were expected to oversee all the 
prudential concerns of the society. At this meeting the sum 
of four hundred and fifty dollars was raised to pay the salary 
of the minister and by the following vote the unsettled 
questions with the town were introduced. "Voted that the 
assessors be a committee to look up the funds of the society 
laying in the hands of the selectmen." 


This fund consisted of certain money and credits derived 
from the sale of the ministerial lands and th?. residue of the 
sale of the pews in the second meeting-house. This action 
of the society explains in a measure a vote of the town on the 
first day of November " to choose a committee of four to join 
with the selectmen to meet with the committee of the Con- 
gregational Society or First Parish to regulate the ministerial 
funds and the pew notes if they belong to said society and 
give them up to said society. Chose George R. Cushing, 
Dr. Abraham Lowe, Oliver Samson & Capt. John Willard. 
Voted to choose two more men to add to the committee and 
chose Joseph Jewett and Ivers Jewett." The selectmen for 
the time being were Silas Willard, Hezekiah Corey and 
John Adams, Jr. 

This was an able committee and it represented both sides 
of the pending question. Mr. Cushing, Dr. Low^e, Joseph 
and Ivers Jewett were active members of the Con<yreo;ational 
society, while Silas Willard, John Willard, Mr. Samson and 
Mr. Corey were equally prominent in the Methodist society. 
John Adams, Jr., held the balance of power in case the 
deliberations of the committee were influenced by selfish 
motives or denominational proclivities. It was undoubtedly 
at the suggestion of members of the Congregational society 
that the Jewetts were added to the committee in order to 
secure a stronger representation in its councils. The result 
of their deliberations was laid before the town at a meeting 
assembled April 4, 1825, in the following report : 

The committee chosen at the town meeting on the first day of 
November last for the purpose of making a division of the minis- 
terial fund and property belonging to the first parish met at Jewett 
& Woods' store, and beg leave to report viz : chose I. Jewett 

2*^ On motion voted that all votes passed by said committee 
be laid before the town at their next annual March meetino^. 


3'^ Voted that the First Parish in said town of Ashburnham 
shall draw the interest of the Pew Notes. 

4'^' Voted that the said First Parish shall draw the interest of 
one half of the ministerial and school funds. 

5*^ Voted that the clerk and chairman sign the above report. 

Chairman of 
I. Jewett, Clerk. 


) the Committee. 

To the school fund the parish laid no claim and it is prob- 
able through careless methods in the conduct of town busi- 
ness it had been united so long with the ministerial fund 
that the identity of each was lost. Since the two funds were 
derived from the sale of equal parcels of land, neither would 
greatly exceed the other in value. It appears to have been 
the intention of the committee to reserve the interest of the 
school fund for the town and to bestow the interest of the 
ministerial fund on the parish. To these recommendations 
the town was not favorably inclined and refused to adopt 
any of the votes suggested by the committee. In the mean 
time the following petition had been presented to the select- 
men and a town meeting had been called to consider the 
same questions in another form. 

To the Gentlemen, Selectmen of the town of Ashburnham: 

We the undersigned inhabitants of the said town request you to 
insert an article in your next March meeting warrant " To see if 
the town will give up to the Congregational Society or First Parish 
in said town the ministerial fund belonging to said parish it being 
for what the ministerial land was sold for, Also the notes that are 
in the Treasury which were given for pews sold in the meeting- 
house belonging to said Society or Parish with the interest on the 
aforesaid notes for one year last past." 



AsHBURNHAM, Feb. 12, 1825. 

Joseph Jewett 
Abraham T. Lowe 
David Gushing 
D. Gushing 
Oliver Green 
Jonas Nutting 
Grant Houston 
John Galdwell 

An article was duly inserted in the warrant and a decision 
was finally reached : 

Voted to give the ministerial fund and the pew notes to the First 
Parish in said town of Ashburnham agreeable to the request of 
Joseph Jewett and others and the selectmen are required to give 
orders accordingh'. 

In pursuance of this liberal course on the part of the town 
the funds were transferred to the custody and possession of 
the Congregational society. For ten years the decision was 
accepted as final and so far as evidence is found it was 
generally regarded as just and proper. From what motive 
the question was opened and the controversy renewed would 
be difficult to determine. In a warrant for the annual meet- 
ing in 1835 the heralds declare that the armistice is ended 
and the contestants who have rested on their arms for a 
decade are again summoned to renewed hostilities. 

To see if the town will reconsider the vote that was passed in 
1825 ; the town then voting that the pew notes and other property 
in fund, originally belonging to the town, into the hands of the 
clerk or treasurer of the First Parish and also to choose a com- 
mittee to examine into all those funds and to see what part thereof 
rightfully belongs to the first parish and have the other put right. 


On the first clause, the town took no action but chose a 
committee of five to make the specified examination. This 
committee consisted of George R. Gushing, Gharles Hast- 
ings, Jr., Dr. Nathaniel Pierce, Silas Willard and Ebenezer 
Frost. Mr. Gushing was the only earnest friend of the 
parish and he refused to join with the others in the follow- 
ing report : 

Your committee, chosen at the March meeting to investigate the 
state of the funds arising from the sale of school and ministr}- 
lands and other property &c, have attended to that duty and ask 
leave to report. Your committee find by the Proprietors Book of 
Records that the tract of land now called Ashburnham was granted 
to sixty soldiers or individuals or their heirs who served in the 
Canada Expedition as a bounty for their services by the General 
Court of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and said Court in 
their grant reserved lots of land viz : one to the first settled 
Minister, one for the Ministry, one for the school ; and the sixty 
Proprietors of the Township six miles square then called Dor- 
chester Canada, gave one lot in each division (as it appears they 
made four divisions) it being four lots in all for the Minister, four 
for the Ministry and four for the school with Equivalents. Also 
the Proprietors granted one lot of ten acres where the meeting- 
house stands, provided the town build and keep a house thereon 
for Public Worship. The lots granted to the first settled minister 
seem to have been disposed of by the Rev. Mr. Winchester. Your 
committee find by the records that the town voted and chose agents 
to sell the public lands and we find by the records that some of 
the Ministry and School lots were sold and the interest applied in 
buying the Rev. Mr. Cushing's fire wood, and the said funds have 
ever since, except a small part, been retained in the hands of 
agents or persons then belonging to the first parish but have since 
alienated themselves from the old meeting-house Elsewhere for 
public worship and they have seized upon the school fund or a 
part thereof contrary to any vote of said town and carried it away 
with them. Therefore your committee, after due consideration. 


resolves that the town pass a vote to return the funds that was 
given to. said town for the use of the ministry to the hands of the 
town treasurer, there to remain a fund according to the appropria- 
tion. Resolved as we find by records and a parchment plan of 
said town, that the common land that has been sold and deeded 
for ministry land the amount of such should be returned to the 
treasury for its proper use. Resolved that as the town sold Pews 
in the old meeting-house on conditions that the amount they sold 
for should be funded and the interest of said fund be appropriated 
to repair the meeting-house, that the principal with the interest be 
returned to the treasury to be kept for that purpose. Resolved 
that those members or agents that have alienated from the old 
meeting-house elsewhere for public worship deliver to the hands of 
the town treasurer the amount of monies that accrued from the 
sale of school lands with the interest that it may be applied 
agreeable to the appropriation. Resolved that the town pass a 
vote and agree with some person residing near said meeting-house 
to take and keep the ke}^ of said house so that the Baptists may 
occupy the same for Religious Worship agreeable to a vote of 
said town. 

Should the agents or members, belonging formerly to the first 
parish or old meeting-house, but have since alienated themselves 
with monies or property belonging thereto, refuse to compl}^ with 
these terms, 

Resolved that the town pass a vote authorizing the committee 
or agents to prosecute forthwith to final judgment. 


SILAS WILLARD, ( Committee 


EBENEZER FROST, J ^^^^ '^^^^• 

May 4, 1835. 

The report was accepted but none of the recommendations 
were adopted. The town clerk found employment in its 
entry upon the records but no other result ensued. How- 
ever, the general issue, which was crushed beneath the 


weight of this ponderous report, was referred to Charles 
Stearns, Asahel Corey and Kilburn Harwood, with instruc- 
tions to meet a like committee of the Congregational society 
" with the view to ascertain more fully the rights of the 
town and parish in said funds." 

An early report from this committee was also accepted 
but no trace of its recommendations has been found. At 
the succeeding meeting the town "voted to accept of the 
ministerial fund," but through a failure of the society to 
pass a responsive vote to give it up, the vote at once ex- 
pressed the willingness and the inability of the town to 
secure it. Through the last stage of the controversy the 
society had the advantage of possession and during the pro- 
longed demonstrations of the town they continued to fortify 
their position with a dignified silence. At other times the 
subject was debated in town meeting, but the remaining 
votes of the town were only repetitions of those that have 
been noticed. If any one desires to learn more of this 
dispute between the worthies of the town and the officers of 
the parish he may fan the embers of the controversy found 
in another chapter in connection with an account of the 
removal of the second meeting-house to its present location. 

In 1832 the Methodist society completed its first house 
of worship in the village. Actuated we trust more from a 
spirit of emulation than of rivalry, the First Parish began to 
consider the expediency of removing its house from the old 
common to the centre of the viUage, and to rebuild the 
interior after a more modern plan. No sooner was the 
project proposed than a decided opposition was developed. 
The owners of the pews in the old house demanded pay- 
ment for their property interest, and the town asserting an 
undefined control of the house frowned upon the society 
in the pretence of any right to remove it or to exercise 



any control over it beyond its accustomed use where it 
stood. And the fact that the town had no clear idea of its 
own authority in the premises, left it free to assert any pre- 
tension and to oppose the society at every point. Foresee- 
ing the difficulties that would attend any other course of 
proceeding, the society early and wisely decided to build a 
new house and subsequently to surrender the old house and 
the pending demands of the pew owners to the town. 

In September, 1832, the society postponed but did not 
abandon the enterprise, and while the intentions of the parish 
were beginning to ripen into an early execution a voluntary 
association of its members proposed to build the house on 
their own responsibility. It only remained for the society 
as an organization to grant the gentlemen leave to proceed 
and to select a location for the new meeting-house. In 
February, 1833, the following propositions were adopted : 

Voted that certain individuals who are disposed may build a 
new meeting-house agreeable to their proposition which is that 
the expense of building be divided into twenty shares and after 
the house is completed to sell or let the pews as they have oppor- 

Voted to choose a committee of five to select a suitable location 
for said meeting-house and chose 

George G. Parker, 

Samuel Ward, 

John Caldwell, } Committee. 

Hosea Green, 

John C. Glazier, 

Voted to adjourn for one week from this day at one o'clock in 
the afternoon. 

Feb. 11, met according to adjournment, the committee presented 
their report which was read. 

Voted that the meeting-house may be built on either of the two 


R^T conqre:qat 



lots — Sawyer's or the one George R. Gushing proposes. The 
Sawyer lot was selected. 

Other locations were considered by the committee but 
were not embraced in their report. One of these was on 
the opposite side of Main street ; another a short distance 
south of the Powder House ; another at the junction of the 
road from N'orth Asbburnham and Main street ; and another 
where the barn of Nathaniel Pierce now stands. The 
amount paid Mr. Sawyer for the lot was two hundred 
and twenty-five dollars. The addition to the lot on the 
north was presented in 1869 by Colonel Charles Barrett. 
The names of the persons who assumed the responsibility 
and proceeded to build the meeting-house do not appear in 
the records. The twenty shares were taken as follows : 
Thomas Hobart, two shares ; Reuben Townsend, Charles 
Barrett, Ebenezer Flint, George G. Parker, Dr. William 
H. Cutler, Joseph Jewett, Harvey M. Bancroft, Philip R. 
Merriam, Philip R. Merriam, Jr., Harvey Brooks, Elijah 
Brooks, Samuel Woods, Samuel S. Stevens, Joel Brooks, 
Horatio J. Holbrook, Hosea Green, Levi Rice, Edmund 
Sawyer, one share each. 

Under the direction of this efficient organization the present 
meeting-house was begun in the summer of 1833 and speedily 
completed. It was dedicated February 19, 1834. The 
cost of construction exceeded the amount received from 
the sale of the pews, but the loss was sustained by the 
organization that had volunteered to build the house. The 
heavy, clear-toned bell which still hangs in the belfry was 
purchased by subscription in January, 1834, at an expense 
of five hundred and seventeen dollars. 

The new meeting-house being completed, and the former 
entangling alliances with the town dissolved, the parish 


entered upon an era of concord and quietude. Occasionally 
called upon to join with the church in the dismissal or settle- 
ment of a minister, its chief and successful employment has 
been to raise money for the payment of current expenses. 
At times the money has been secured with difficulty but the 
parish, by a conciliatory policy and by consulting its mem- 
bers in regard to methods of taxation and voluntary sub- 
scriptions, has met its obligations and has seldom suffered 
its fortunes to be dimmed by the cloud of debt. Through 
the indifference of many the burden has rested more heavily 
upon others, yet at all times a reliant purpose has met every 
obstacle and overcome every difficulty. During the past 
sixty years the salary paid the minister has been increased 
from time to time from four hundred and fifty to twelve 
hundred dollars. 

The meeting-house was thoroughly remodelled in 1869. 
After an ineffectual discussion of many plans and several 
inoperative votes of the parish a number of gentlemen gen- 
erously volunteered to become responsible for the expense 
of rebuilding the house. The repairs were immediately 
made under the direction of Ohio Whitney, Jr. , William P. 
Ellis, Jerome W. Foster, George C. Winchester and Addi- 
son A. Walker. The amount expended was about thirteen 
thousand dollars. The deficit, after the sale of the pews, 
was assumed and soon paid by the parish. At this time 
a superior pipe organ was purchased by subscription. The 
parsonage was purchased in 1864, and in it are invested the 
ministerial fund received from the town and the legacy of 
Mrs. Lucy Davis. 




THE METHODISTS. — the field and the situation. — the early 


THE UNION CHURCH. — the elements collected. — the meeting- 
house. — A church embodied. — the early preachers. — elder 



ADVENTISTS. —THEIR belief. —no church organization. 

THE CATHOLICS. — first services in this town. — purchase a 

meeting-house. — rev. JOHN CONWAY. 

Methodist Churches were organized in many of the 
towns in this vicinity in rapid succession. It was during 
the last decade of the past century. In its outline features 
the history of the introduction of Methodism and of the 
growth and progress of the churches planted by the early 
preachers is the same throughout New England. Until the 
arrival of the pioneer preachers of a new faith, in every town 
there was one church of the standing order which, founded 
soon after the settlement of the town, had remained the sole 
occupant of the field. Over each of these churches the 
" learned orthodox minister " was settled for life and labored 
without a rival. The orthodox minister of the olden time 
was an earnest and solemn laborer, austere in manner, 



dignified in bearing; faithful and diligent as a pastor he 
labored for his people with singleness of purpose. With 
formal precision he visited the sick and comforted the 
mourner in learned phrases. His counsel was the voice of 
wisdom, while his sympathies were congealed in the solem- 
nity of his presence. Standing half way between God and 
man, there was a fixedness about him that invited the rever- 
ence and commanded the homage of the people. His 
sermons, logically arranged, were earnest and solemn 
appeals to the reason of his hearers. From the lofty pulpit 
of the olden time he maintained his accustomed eminence 
among his flock and through the week he walked in even 
lines above them. They respected him, addressed him, 
thought of him with reverence, and if any loved him they 
loved him with an admixture of awe that suffered no passage 
of the gulf that separated the minister from the hearts of the 
people. If neither the example of his life nor the spirit of 
his discourse invoked the emotions or aroused the sudden 
impulse, he moulded and solidified the character and per- 
suaded men to live under the guidance of principle and a 
rational sense of duty. 

The minister of that day is a character prominent and still 
honored in the annals and traditions of the past. In the 
midst of his supremacy came the pioneer preacher of 
Methodism. These heralds of a new creed announced their 
message with plainness of speech and simplicity of manner. 
Their early success sprang more from the manner of the 
man than from the matter of their discourse. They lived 
among the people and when not engaged in exhortation they 
conversed and mingled with them. They neither spoke from 
pulpits nor held themselves aloof from their fellow-men. 
They preached in dwellings, in barns and in the groves. 
While preaching they stood on a level with their hearers. 


Wisely assuming that the clergy of the standing order had 
faithfully instructed the masses and inculcated among them a 
general knowledge of the Christian religion they asserted 
the tenets peculiar to their sect. If they appealed to the 
emotions of men they satisfied a hunger of the soul that the 
teachings of the older school could not appease ; and if they 
became earnest and impassioned in manner they felt a 
responsive echo in the worship of the multitude. 

With such labor and under such conditions the early 
Methodist preachers found adherents in every community. 
They rapidly planted churches and confiding them to the 
self-sustaining influences of the class-meeting they passed on 
to new fields and to renewed conquests. Over these infant 
churches a preacher w^as not assigned for a stated time. 
Indeed the earlier preachers were not fixed in their fields of 
labor, but were transferred so rapidly from one station to 
another that we gain but glimpses of their approaching or 
retiring presence. When assembled for worship, mysteri- 
ously there came a minister to preach to them ; from whence 
he came, or where he went, or the name of the roving 
preacher, is difficult to determine. 

The introduction of Methodism into Ashburnham in method 
and in the attendino- conditions was similar to the o^eneral 
work and success of the youthful church throughout the 
country. In a historical discourse delivered at Ashburnham 
July 9, 1882, Kev. Stephen Gushing has succinctly stated the 
prominent events connected with its growth and progress. 
To that discourse is credited many of the events in the 
following paragraphs. Within five years from the introduc- 
tion of Methodism into New England, Kev. John Hill 
preached the first Methodist sermon at the house of Lemuel 
Stimson in the north part of the town. This was in the 
autumn of 1793. Early in the following year a society of 


eight members was constituted and soon meetings began to 
be held with considerable regularity at the house of Silas 
Willard, Esq. In the autumn of 1796 Lorenzo Dow 
preached to the infant society in this town. This famous 
preacher was then nineteen years of age. The following 
extract from his journal refers to this occasion : " October 
23, 1796, 1 spoke in Hard wick to about four hundred people ; 
thence to Petersham and Winchendon, to Fitchburgh and 
likewise to Notown where God gave me one spiritual child. 
Thence to Ashburnham, where we had some powerful times." 

In 1800 a quarterly meeting attended by Kev. John Broad^ 
head, a presiding elder, was held in the town. At this time 
the church embraced a membership of fifty or more. Three 
years later Bishops Asbury and Whatcoat preached at the 
house of Mr. Willard by whom they were entertained. 
Preaching was maintained in the north part of the town and 
a society with increasing numbers was in existence thirty- 
eight years. The preachers were frequently transferred to 
other fields in the intervals between the formal assignments 
by the Conference. From the records of such appointments 
and transfers it is found that during this tune sixty-five 
preachers had been designated for Ashburnham and depend- 
ent societies. A society was organized in Westminster in 
1814 and a few families in the south part of the town were 
included in its membership. 

In 1831 the Ashburnham and Westminster societies were 
made a station and a pastor assigned them. This arrange- 
ment was of short duration and only one appointment, that 
of Eev. Nathan B. Spaulding, was made. The following year 
the Ashburnham society, having proposed to build a meeting- 
house at the centre of the town, was made a station and 
has continued to the- present tim3 an independent organiza- 
tion. It was during the year of the union with the West- 


minster society, and perhaps suggested by the inconvenience 
of that arrano^ement, that active measures for buildins: a 
meeting-house were proposed and favorably entertained. At 
that time the trustees were Joshua Burgess, Luther Barrell, 
John Kibling, Lemuel Whitney, John Willard, James 
Puffer, Silas Willard, Lemuel Stimson, Stephen Gushing, 
Oliver Samson and Hezekiah Corey. A considerable sum 
of money was raised by subscription and the work fairly 
begun in the autumn of 1831. The house was completed 
without suspension of the work and was dedicated July 4, 
1832. The dimensions were fifty-six by forty-one feet. 

Again, thirty-eight years is an epoch in the history of the 
Methodist church of Ashburnham. The present commo- 
dious house of worship was erected in 1870. It was then 
seventy-six years since the organization of the church in this 
town. Dividing the time in two equal portions, was the 
building of the first meeting-house in 1832. The first span 
of time had witnessed the growth of the church from a class 
of eight persons to one hundred members. Through many 
discouragements they had existed and had increased. At 
all times their ardor had been unabated. Through all these 
years of their earl}^ history they found many occasions for 
devout gratitude for the past and buoyant hope for the future. 
During the second period, or while occupying the first meet- 
ing-house, they were attended with continued prosperity. 
The visible results are witnessed by many seasons of spiritual 
power and by frequent and considerable addition to the 
membership of the church. 

At the close of the second epoch, the erection of the 
present church edifice was undertaken. In 1869 the site 
for the proposed building was purchased and the foundations 
were laid. From the board of trustees Reuben Puffer, 
Nathaniel Eaton and Andrew J. Smith were chosen a build- 


ing committee, to which Charles Winchester was joined. 
Under the management of these gentlemen the work upon 
the building was begun in the spring of 1870 and the house 
was substantially completed during that year. The interior 
decoration and furnishing were completed the following 
summer and the house was dedicated July 20, 1871. The 
cost of construction was about thirty thousand dollars which 
far exceeded the first estimates and the burden fell heavily 
upon the society. The organ, from the factory of Hook and 
Hastings, was presented by Charles Winchester. During the 
succeeding ten years the debt contracted in constructing an 
expensive edifice was gradually reduced, but was not fully 
paid until during the ministry and through the efforts of 
Rev. Nathaniel B. Fisk. Two members of the church con- 
tributed at this time a sum exceedino^ the entire cost of the 
first meeting-house. 

From 1870 to the present time the outward history of 
the church has been uneventful. The stated ministrations 
have been maintained and commendable donations have been 
credited to the benevolence of the society. The spiritual 
history of all these years and the influences of the church 
over the souls of men are among the unwritten revelations 
of another world. The minutes of the Conference contain 
the names of sixty-five preachers who were assigned pre- 
vious to 1832 to the station to which Ashburnliam belonged. 
It is evident that several of them after a brief labor here 
were transferred to other stations ; and, possibly, a few of 
them did not even arrive here before they received new 
appointments to other places. Nor were any of them 
assigned unreservedly to the Ashburnham church but to the 
circuit to which this church belonged. Very few of them 
were temporarily resident here. Their labors were divided 
among several societies of Avhich this was the strongest and 
most prominent. 


Since Ashburnham became a station in 1832, a pastor has 
heen assigned without reservation and has lived during the 
term of his appointment among his charge. The number of 
these appointments is thirty-four. Of these seventeen, 
including the present pastor, have remained one year, four- 
teen two years and under the modern revision of the rules, 
three have received a third appointment. After an interval 
of several years Eev. Pliny Wood and Kev. Austin F. Her- 
rick were returned to this town and are twice enumerated, 
but the brief pastorate of Eev. H. B. Skinner who filled an 
unexpired appointment is not included. All were worthy, 
exemplary pastors. With varied gifts and acquirements, 
none have failed in duty to their charge, and all have been 
fellow-laborers with men of their own and other denomina- 
tions in the reforms and benevolence of their time. 

The names of the pastors and the membership of the 
church since Ashburnham was made a station are as follows : 





Nathan B. Spaulding 



Hebron Vincent 



John W. Case 



Charles Noble 



William R. Stone 



William P. White 



Horace Moulton. H. B. 

Skinner, 6 months 180 


John W. Merrill 



Newell S. Spaulding 



Howard C. Dunham 



William B. Olds 



David Kilburn 



Pliny Wood 



Jonathan L. Esty 



Moses P. Webster 



Cyrus L. Eastman 




The Union Church. — The causes which led to the 
buildino^ of a meetino^-house and the embodiment of a church 
at North Ashburnham are mainly apparent at the present 
time. It is probable and it is reasonable to presume that the 
controlling motives were sustained and encouraged by many 
minor impulses which are neither reflected in the record nor 
preserved in the memory of the few now living who were 
active in the initial proceedings. A half century ago that 
portion of the town was more populous than at present and 
in that community were several men of influence and enter- 
prise. The families residing in that vicinity for a long time 
had been sensible of the burden of the distance that 
separated them from the church at Ashburnham Centre to 
which they belonged. These, for many years, had frequently 
yet timidly suggested some measures of relief. Among them 
were a few families who were not in full sympathy with the 


Austin F. Herrick 


Lorenzo White 


Pliny Wood 


Ichabod Marcy 


William Pentecost 


Jonas M. Clark 


John A. Lansing 


Walter Wilkie 


Nathan D. George 


Joseph W. Lewis 


L. P. Causey 


Austin F. Herrick 


James W. Fenno 


William H. Cook 


Nathaniel B. Fisk 


John H. Mansfield 


Emory A. Howard 


Austin H. Herrick 


controlling influences of the parent church, and joined with 
these were others not allied to the church at the Centre nor 
were they Congregationalists. 

The latter class, actuated both by conscience and conven- 
ience, were ready to join in the organization of a union 
church with tenets inviting an evangelical alliance. There 
were many meetings and conferences of which no record was 
made, and concerning which very little accurate information 
can be secured. The work which met them at the outset 
was the buildino^ of a meetins^-house and to this undertakinsf 
they directed their efforts with courage and enthusiasm. 
The edifice built for the proprietors by Ohio Whitney, Jr., 
and Samuel Howard was completed in 1842 and dedicated in 
December of that year. In the new house preaching was 
maintained by voluntary efibrt for several months. The 
church was embodied February 21, 1843. The creed was 
evangelical and while it omitted any declarations upon doc- 
trinal questions that were the distinguishing tenets of the 
Congregational, Methodist and Baptist faith, it was an un- 
equivocal expression on all points entertained in common by 
those churches. The original membership was fifty-five, of 
whom a majority was of Orthodox Congregational ante- 
cedents and the remainder were Methodists and Freewill 
Baptists. Of this membership twenty-five were received by 
-dismissal and recommendation from the parent church ; a few 
from the Freewill Baptist church and several from the 
Methodists. During the early years of its existence the 
church and parish had no settled minister. 

The earlier preachers were Rev. William Hills, who 
remained several months, and Eev. Samuel Cole, who was 
acting pastor three years. Early in the year 1846 Elder 
Edward B. Rollins was hired to preach one year. This 
ministry introduced an era of discord. The season of har- 


mony and fraternal relations, which crowned the early 
history of the church with continued blessings, was abruptly 
ended and for many years the bitterness of feeling then 
engendered was frequently the cause of renewed contention. 
Following Mr. Rollins, Rev. Josiah D. Crosby preached one 
year and he was succeeded by Rev. A. A. Whitmore, who 
remained four years and was the first minister installed over 
the church. Succeeding Mr. Whitmore was a prolonged era 
of supplies and at times the records afford ample evidence 
that the salary of the minister was raised with great labor 
and efibrt. During this period the pastors were Rev. Josiah 
W. Brown, Rev. Woodbury and Rev. Asa Barnes. 

In 1860 the original church, known as the Union Church, 
was disbanded. The few members remaining, who were 
found prepared for continued effort, at once proceeded to 
orofanize a new church, to be known as " The Second Con- 
gregational Church of Ashburnham." The creed was 
amended and the church was embodied June 19, 1860. 
The number of members received at the time of reorganiza- 
tion was eleven. The number was small and the burden 
comparatively heavy ; yet, aided by the Congregational 
Home Missions, they succeeded in overcoming many obsta- 
cles and for several years in maintaining the stated ministra- 
tions of the gospel. 

Rev. Samuel H. Peckham supplied the desk for a season 
and in 1863 Mr. George H. Blake was made pastor in charge 
and engaged for- one year with an understanding that, unless 
for cause, the relation should be continued indefinitely. 
Soon after Mr. Blake began his labors he was ordained in 
the ministry but was not installed over the church and the 
existing relations were abruptly terminated before the close 
of the first year. 

Rev. Daniel Wight, having supplied a few Sabbaths, 
accepted a call extended with great unanimity and was 


installed June 22, 1864. The relation was profitably and 
fraternally continued until April 1, 1871. Immediately pre- 
ceding this ministry the creed and rules of procedure were 
amended, and during its continuance the affairs, both of the 
church and the parish, were promptly and prudently admin- 

Succeeding Mr. Wight, Eev. Charles Peabody was made 
an acting pastor and continued his labors until May 16, 1875. 
He was succeeded by Eev. William T. Lewis who main- 
tained a dual relation with this church and the church in 
Winchendon Centre. 

The preliminary conferences in regard to the maintenance 
of stated preaching at North Ashburnham led to an early 
decision to build a meeting-house. A society was immedi- 
ately formed and under its direction the meeting-house was 
soon erected. In 1847 the society became a legal corpora- 
tion under the name of " The Proprietors of Union Meeting- 
House." Of this organization. Colonel Enoch Whitmore 
was clerk for many years and until the organization was lost 
through a failure to hold annual meetings and elect officers 
as required by law. In 1868, and during the ministry of 
Mr. Wight, the organization was revived and assumed the 
nome of the " North Parish of Ashburnham." It is apparent, 
however, that there was an active society during the years 
immediately preceding the new organization, but there is a 
hiatus in the records from 1857 till 1868. The new parish 
held annual meetings for a short time and then suffered the 
organization to lapse and at this time it has not been revived. 

The bell was purchased by subscriptions obtained in the 
autumn of 1867 and was placed in position January 23, 
1868, by Ohio Whitney and Samuel Howard as a part of 
their original contract for building the meeting-house. The 
bell soon failed, but a new one was furnished by the makers, 
without charge, which was hung in the belfry January 28, 


1869. It is a steel combination bell and weighs about eight 
hundred pounds. The expense attending its purchase and 
hanging was $265.51. 

During the existence of this church and parish only two 
ministers have been installed and no effort has been made to 
announce the names of all who have been acting pastors for 
short periods of time. The church and society are indebted 
to Isaac D. Ward for the careful preservation of the files and 
records from which the information in thfese paragraphs was 
mainly secured. 

Eev. Alfred Alonzo Whitmore, son of Luke Hay den and 
Phoebe (Cowing) Whitmore, was born near Geneva, Ontario 
county, New York, July 7, 1817. The family removed in 
1825 to the Territory of Michigan and settled near Ann 
Arbor. Attending the local schools in youth, Mr. Whit- 
more entered the school at Oberlin, Ohio, in 1838 and was a 
student in the several departments eight and one-half years, 
graduating from the academical department 1843 and the 
theological school in 1846. After a brief supply in several 
places he began his labor with this church in 1848 and was 
installed October 18 of that year. He was an earnest, faith- 
ful pastor and a plain and acceptable preacher. He was 
dismissed at his request August 25, 1852. After supplying 
a few months at Eichmond he removed to Ohio, in 1864 to 
Illinois, and since 1875 he has resided at Anita, Iowa, where 
he completed a successful ministry in 1880. 

Rev. Daniel Wight, a son of Daniel and Zillah (Grould- 
ing) Wight, was born in Natick, September 18, 1808. He 
is a graduate of Harvard University, class of 1837, and of 
Andover Theological Seminary 1840. His first charge was 
in Scituate where he was ordained and installed September 
28, 1842. Here he labored successfully sixteen years. 
Commencing 1859 he was stated supply two years at Boyl- 
ston, and subsequently labored for the American Board 


among the Seneca Indians. On account of the failing health 
of his wife he returned to Natick in 1863 and immediately 
after he was called to preside over this church. His prudent 
councils, his untiring interest for the welfare of his charge 
and his earnest labor in this town will be held in grateful 
remembrance. At the completion of his ministry here he 
returned to Natick where he continues to reside. 

During the history of the church five have been called to 
serve as deacons. Daniel Jones was chosen deacon at the 
organization of the church. Soon after, under the adoption 
of a rule to choose one deacon each year for a term of two 
years, Gilman Jones and Joseph Wetherbee were chosen. 
Except one year Deacon Jones was continued in office by 
reelection until his removal from town, and in 1845 John C. 
Davis was elected and was continued in office until his death 
June 19, 1883. After 1849 the officers were elected for an 
indefinite period. Upon the reorganization of the church in 
1860, Deacon Davis was continued in service and Horace 
Balcom was also elected to the office. 

The Baptists. — At an early date there were several fami- \ 
lies in this town who were styled Baptists. Others of the 
same faith were residing in Ashby and in Fitchburg. They 
maintained preaching with considerable regularity during the 
closing years of the past and the early years of the current 
century. Professing an unbelief in the maintenance of a 
salaried clergy they derived their religious instruction from 
voluntary labor, and in the absence of a minister, which was 
usual, they enjoyed the exhortations of their own number. 
Stephen Gibson of Ashby was gifted in this direction and 
for many years he preached to them with more acceptance 
than compensation. In 1795, when this sect was most 
numerous, there were twenty families in this town and as 
many in Fitchburg connected with this society. They held 



their meetings in dwelling-houses and in school-houses near 
the limits of the adjoining towns, but they never erected a 
church edifice. The meeting-house built in the north part 
of Fitchburg, about 1810, was erected and occupied by 
an organization of Freewill Baptists with whom the older 
society had little sympathy. The families who waited 
upon the ministrations of Stephen Gibson and other laymen 
belonged to a sect which, one hundred years ago, found a 
few adherents in many New England towns. Professedly 
they were Calvinistic Baptists and, doubtless, their adher- 
ence to the cardinal doctrines of that church fully sustained 
their right to the name. But the distinguishing feature of 
their faith, and one in which they were not in harmony with 
the Baptist church, was an unyielding hostility to the pre- 
vailing custom of providing a stated support of the ministry. 

Professing that it was " a sin to preach for hire " they 
relied upon itinerant and local preachers who labored with- 
out compensation. No doubt this feature of their creed was 
fostered and intensified by the intolerant laws of the State 
which compelled all to contribute to the support of the 
standing order. Those belonging to this society were 
excellent people. Some of them were influential and prom- 
inent citizens. As soon as the spirit of toleration repealed 
the compulsory statutes in relation to the support of the 
clergy, in a great measure the ground of their ofience was 
removed and they gradually became absorbed in other 
religious societies. In later years there have been Baptists 
of the modern school in this town but there has been no 
other organization. 

Second Adventists. — For several years there have been 
a number of families in this town who are known as Second 
Adventists. They have occasional preaching at South 
Ashburnham but have no church organization. In religious 


belief they are closely allied to the Evangelical churches and 
are not in full sympathy with the Seventh Day Adventists 
whose annual conference is held at Battle Creek, Michigan. 
The members of the denomination in this town observe the 
first day of the week and cordially unite with the other 
denominations in the Sabbath-school and i» forwardins: 
every good work. 

The Catholics began to maintain religious service in 
this town in 1851. At that time the number of families 
was small and they assembled at private houses. With the 
progress of years the number has increased and for a number 
of years service was held in the Town Hall with consider- 
able regularity. In 1871 they bought the house they now 
occupy of the Methodist society. The interior has been 
remodelled and thoroughly repaired. The congregation is 
steadily increasing and the visible influence of the service is 
in the support of good morals. The church is under the 
spiritual direction of Rev. John Conway who is also in 
charge of the church in Winchendon. The Catholics, 
having no cemetery in this town, bury their dead in Fitch- 
burg and in Winchendon. 







The men of Ashburnham have produced their most stir- 
ring music in their frequent town meetings, but being of a 
character unsuited to waft, on the wings of praise, the sen- 
timent of sacred song it cannot be considered under the head 
of church music. Holding an easy rein over their proclivi- 
ties in the arena of debate they have made ample amends in 
curbing opposition to the innovations which have marked 
the progress and elevation of sacred music in this place. 
The first reference in the records to this subject occurs at an 
early date : 

To see if the town are willing that the singers should sett 
together in the Public Worship in any part of the gallery that shall 
be thought proper. 

Voted that the singers shall have the front gallery to set in, in 
time of Public Worship viz : the men's side as far back as the 
long pew. 

Thus, as far back as 1773 and as far back as the long 
pew, the town provided for the accommodation and recog- 
nized the existence of a choir. That the singers increased 



in numbers is seen in a vote a few years later " to let tke 
singers have the front part of the gallery to set in that they 
may not be so crowded." 

In 1774 the church by vote consented to the use of the 
pitch-pipe " if the chorister please to pitch the tune " and at 
the same time it was ordered, the records say by a consider- 
able majority, "that no new tunes should be introduced for 
twelve months and that they should be confined to the tunes 
that are already in use." There was opposition to the last 
vote and the records explain that to relieve the minds of 
many on this point the pastor was requested to name a 
proper tune for every psalm that was sung. The same year 
and in connection with these votes a proposal to introduce 
the verse of Dr. Watts was defeated. The version of Tate 
and Brady remained in use until near the close of the cen- 
tury. This version, a literal arrangement of the Psalms and 
some other portions of the Old Testament, with modest 
pretension to metrical composition, was employed in the 
Presbyterian and Keformed churches of Great Britain for a 
long time, and until eventually supplanted by the psalms 
and hymns of Dr. Watts it was in general use in the 
churches of New England. In that version our fathers 
found the familiar lines of the Scriptures and they regarded 
with grave suspicion the same sentiments expressed in new 
forms of speech. A copy of the ancient version is seldom 
found and many of the present generation have little idea of 
the poetry which the fathers were accustomed to sing. A 
pai-t of the fifth and the sixty-fifth Psalms, in the version 
of Tate and Brady, will afford some idea of the general 

" Lord, in thy wrath, rebuke me not, 
Nor in thy hot wrath chasten me, 
Lord, pity me, for I am weak; 
Lord, heal me, for my bones vex'd be, 


Also my soul is vexed sore ; 

How long, O Lord, wilt thou me forsake? 

*' Return, Lord, my soul release; 
O, save me for thy mercy's sake. 
In death no mem'ry is of thee 
And who shall praise thee in the grave. 
I faint with groans ; all night my bed 
Swims : I with tears my couch wash'd have, 
Mine eyes with grief is dim and old, 
Because of all mine enemies, 
But now depart away from me 
All ye that work iniquities. 

*' Silence to thee ; thy praise O God, 
In Sion, paid shall be. 
The vow to thee, who hearest prayers, 
All flesh shall come to thee. 
Works of iniquity prevail 
Against me sore do they, 
But as for our transgres-si-ons, 
Thou shalt them purge away." 

The opposition to the introduction of new tunes is easily- 
understood and was prompted by an impulse which com- 
mands respect. For many years our fathers had reverently 
sung their praises in the familiar strains of York, St. Mar- 
tin's, Mear and a few other substantial compositions. By 
constant use these tunes had become sacred to them and a 
sentiment of reverence triumphed over their musical taste 
and the allurements of new compositions. The earliest 
chorister, of whom there is any certain information, was 
William Benjamin. He was a resident here at the settle- 
ment of Mr. Winchester and remained until 1785 when he 
removed to Vermont. He led the choir several years and 
was succeeded by Joseph Jewett, Esq., and Lieutenant 
John Adams. Amos Dickerson, Ebenezer Wood, Levi 
Whitney, Mrs. Joseph Jewett, Betsey Dickerson, after- 


wards the wife of Isaac Jackson, were prominent singers in 
the first meeting-house, and some of them are found in the 
choir at a later period. Jacob Kiblinger was a famous 
singer, but he generally worshipped with the Baptists and 
was not a constant member of the choir. 

Although led by a choir, for many years the singing was 
mainly congregational, and on account of the small number 
of books in the possession of the worshippers the practice of' 
reading or lining the hymns was continued about thirty 
years. After the hymn had been read by the minister one 
of the deacons would read one or two lines. When that 
passage had been sung in the animated manner of the time, 
and while the singers were regaining breath, the deacon 
read another line or couplet and by this alternating process 
the longest hymns were fully rendered. In 1788 the church 
voted that no hymn should be sung without reading if any 
deacon was present to read it, except the last hymn in the 
service, but the following year at the request of the town the 
practice was discontinued altogether. 

At the time the congregation began to worship in the 
second meeting-house a bass viol was introduced, but there 
is no reference in the records to other instruments until 
several years later, but it is certain that from an early date 
the singers were accustomed to select a chorister and to 
accept the support of any musical instrument that was avail- 
able. For these reasons very little mention of the conduct 
of church music is found in the records. For one hundred 
years an interest in the subject and a commendable pride in 
home talent has been manifested by the town, and later 
by the parish, by frequent and liberal appropriations " for 
the encouraojement of sino^ino^," and schools of instruction 
under efficient teachers have been numerous. 


More than any other, musical ability is a gift of inheri- 
tance. In every community can be found families of 
musicians. This faculty may present different phases in 
succeeding generations but the musical ability of the parents 
is ever renewed in their children. This town has counted 
among its residents many excellent musicians and many 
natives of the place have been famous, while others, more 
remotely associated, can trace their musical inheritance to 
an Ashburnham parentage. In the following paragraph it 
will be discovered that many of the prominent members of 
the choir through all these years were descendants from 
some of the earliest shigers in this town. Catherine, wife 
of John Kiblinger the emigrant, is distinguished in tradition 
for qualities of voice and skill in music, and the choir has 
been indebted to her descendants through several genera- 
tions. The musical talent of the Adams, Rice, Barrett and 
the Charles Stearns femilies has been conspicuous through 
succeeding generations. As the voice of the parents grew 
feeble in age or was silent in death, the unbroken song has 
been sustained in the tuneful notes of their children. Many 
of these have been prominent in the choir where their 
services have been appreciated. 

Among the singers in the second meeting-house on -the 
old common, whose voices are still heard in the traditions 
of the choir, were Colonel Charles Barrett, Benjamin 
Barrett, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Stearns, Mr. and Mrs. 
Reuben Townsend, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hastings, the 
brothers John, James and Walter R. Adams, George Law- 
rence, Josiah White, Harvey M. Bancroft, Mrs. Benjamin 
Gibbs, a daughter of Reuben Rice, Mrs. James Russell, 
assisted by the violins of Colonel Charles Barrett and Jonas 
Rice, the clarionets of Walter R. Adacns and Samuel Foster, 


the buo'le of James Barrett and the bassoon of James 

Several of these continued with the choir in the new 
meeting-house in the village, and from time to time were 
reenforced by Amos Taylor, Joseph Kibling, Colonel Joseph 
P. Rice, Colonel Francis J. Barrett, Colonel George H. 
Barrett, who entered the choir at an early age, Harvey M. 
Bancroft, Stephen A. Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Josiah E. 
White, Mrs. Sally (Thurston) Phillips, Mrs. Shepherd, 
David and Harvey Laws, Dr. and Mrs. Miller, Mrs. 
Josephine (Stearns) Tenny, Julia and Caroline Barrett, 
Mrs. Rebecca (Stearns) Walker, whose cultured voice led 
the choir several years, and the viols and violins of Deacon 
J. A. Conn, Harvey M. Bancroft, George H. Lowe, Stephen 
A. Miller, Horace Samson, the flute of J. E. White and the 
clarionet skilfully played by Captain A. A. Walker, In 
this choir Mrs. Julia Houston West began her public singing 
and C. C. Stearns, when a lad, accurately played the bass 
viol. The present choir, under the eflicient direction of 
Colonel George H. Barrett, with Miss Augusta Ames 
organist, is well sustained by the leading voices of Miss" 
Lizzie F. Barrett, Mrs. Georgie S. (Whitney) Greenwood, 
Mrs. Theresa (Rockwood) Litch and Homer T. Rice. 

Li the early service of the Methodist church sacred song 
was the voluntary praise of the congregation, rather than the 
skilled performance of a choir. In this style of music any 
failure of culture was fully compensated by fervor and ani- 
mation. Since the occupancy of the meeting-house in the 
central village a good choir has been quite generally sus- 
tained and very many acceptable singers and several cultured 
voices have participated in this feature of public worship. 
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Stearns, who had been teachers of 
music, were prominent in this choir many years and later 


their daughter, Mrs. Walker, was leader of the choh' and 
leading soprano thirteen years. The strong and not untune- 
ful voice of Antipas Maynard is well remembered and his 
daughters have rendered efficient service. Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles Hastings, Sawyer Eice, Lewis Sabin, Nathaniel F. 
Cutter, Sarah A. Cutter and many others, are often named 
in the traditions of the Methodist choir. At the present 
time Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Eaton are leading singers and 
Miss Mabel W. Tenney is organist. 







No sooner had a few families, at remote distances and 
connected by rude paths through the intervening wilderness, 
secured the stated ministrations of the gospel, than means 
were provided for the education of the young. During the 
early years of the settlement, in which there were no public 
schools, the young were not suffered to grow up in ignorance. 
The parents were generally people of intelligence and not a 
few of considerable culture. They personally attended to 
the education of their children and there were as many 
schools in the settlement as there were families. Whatever 
may have been the measure of instruction in the home circle 
the results are unmistakable. IN'one grew up in ignorance, 
and the many evidences of a fair education, made known in 
the lives of those whose only schooling was at the fireside, 
aie the substance of our knowledge of the instruction of that 
early period. A part of the children of the Winchester, 
Foster, Coolidge, Kibling, Whiteman and Coleman families 
were advanced youth when the first public school was estab- 
lished in this town ; yet, compared with the standard of their 



times, they were educated, intelligent men and women, and 
it is clearly evident that the education of the youth of that 
period was not neglected through a failure of public support. 
The date of the first entries found in the records on this 
subject is 1767. Compared with the schools of to-day it 
was a humble beginning : " Voted to Keep a School and 
voted Eight Pounds for y^ school." 

At a meeting assembled a few months later and before any 
of the appropriation had been expended under an article, 
"To see where y^ Town will keep their School, whether in 
y^ middle of y® Town or Divide it into Quarters or Pass any 
votes on s*^ article," it was "Voted y* y^ School Should be a 
moveing School, voted to leave it to y^ Select men to make 
y^ Quarters where ye school Shall be Cept, voted it to bee a 
free School." The term quarter was here employed in the 
sense of district or division and this use of the word per- 
mitted the selectmen to divide the town into an accommo- 
dating number of quarters, which was frequently done, with- 
out defiance of mathematical terms. During the early 
existence of the schools the town was divided into three 
districts, a school being maintained at the centre of the town, 
another at the Dutch farms and the third in the south part of 
the town. In 1774, in accordance with the existing arrange- 
ment of the districts, the town voted to build three school- 
houses. This action "was promptly reconsidered, and an 
order was adopted that the town be divided into five quarters 
and that five school-houses be erected at the expense of the 
town. At this point there is found no reference to any new 
districts, but in some way there were seven in the following 
year. For several years, commencing with 1780, there were 
ten districts; in 1786, there were nine; in 1794 the number 
of districts was reduced to eight ; but in 1801 a new ninth 
district was established in the southeast part of the town, 



includino- the estates of Joshiia Billinos Reuben Billings, 
Reuben Rice, Jonathan Winchester, Thomas Gibson, Joseph 
Gibbs, Caleb Wilder, Jr., and Samuel Dunster. 

Thus, at the close of the century, we find the town divided 
into nine districts, and in each, as will appear, there was a 
comfortable school-house. While the boundaries of these 
districts have been subject to frequent changes, and the 
tenth and eleventh districts have been created by a division 
of the seventh and first districts, the remaining numbers were 
bounded substantially as they exist at the present time. 
From the beginning changes in the boundaries of the dis- 
tricts and requests of individuals to be transferred to an 
adjacent district have been a prolific source of legislation. 
In 1805, the subject of a general revision was referred to a 
committee of one from each district who reported the follow- 
ing year " that it is their unanimous opinion that a general 
rearrangement throughout the town cannot be advisable, but 
some alterations, in the southern part of the town, may be 
attended with good efiect." This action did not pacify the 
town, and many petitions were renewed. In May, 1808, 
the whole subject was referred to a committee, consisting 
of Dr. Abraham Lowe, Captain Caleb Wilder, Captain 
George R. Gushing, Lieutenant John Adams, Mr. Timothy 
Crehore, Mr. Lemuel Stimson, Captain John Willard, Mr. 
Caleb Ward and Mr. William Merriam. On the twenty- 
ninth of November following the committee made a report 
dividing the town into eight districts, as follows : 

District Number One. — To consist of Rev. John Gushing, 
Moses Tottingham, Abraham Lowe, Horatio Hale, David Gushing, 
David Gushing, Jr., Joseph Jewett, Grover Scollay, Wm. J. 
Lawrence, Ephraim Gobleigh, Fitch Grosby, Hosea Stone, widow 
Nancy Stone, Joseph Miller, widow Brooks, Luther Brooks, 
Sewell Brooks, Phinehas Stimson, Gyrus Fairbanks, Jacob Fair- 


banks, Oliver Samson, David Russell, Caleb Ward, Jr., Nathan 
Jones, Stephen Randall, Phinehas Randall, Jonas Randall, Joel 
Barrett, Oliver Marble, Oliver Marble, Jr., Thaddeus Brooks, 
Jonas Robbins, Shebuel Hobard, Deacon Jacob Harris, Ezekiel 
S. Metcalf (35). 

District Number Two. — Oliver Green, Jesse Ellis, Jonathan 
Brooks, John Winter, David Wallis, William Ward, Henry Hall, 
Lemuel Whitney, Nicholas Whiteman, John Hall, David Taylor, 
Nathan Taylor, George R. Gushing, Jacob Willard, Jacob Con- 
stantine. Wait Broughton (16). 

District Number Three. — Lieutenant John Adams, Walter 
R. Adams, James Adams, John Adams, Jr., Thomas Russell, 
Isaac Hill, Ebenezer Adams, Isaac Reed, William Gates, John 
Hadley's place, widow Ruth Conn, James Cowee, Jabez Marble, 
Jonas Rice, Peter PoUey, Asa Woods, Asa Sawin, Joshua Bil- 
lings, George Wilker, Josiah Fletcher (20). 

District Number Four. — Reuben Rice, Jonathan Winchester, 
Joseph Gibbs, Thomas Gibson, William Merriam, Samuel Gates, 
Samuel Dunster, Nehemiah Maynard, Stephen Maynard, Thomas 
Hobart, Mrs. Sarah Earle, William Whitney, Samuel Whitney, 
Stephen Bemis, Deacon Sherebiah Hunt (15). 

District Number Five. — Reuben Townsend, widow Conn, 
Caleb Wilder, Jr., Captain Silas Whitney's place, Samuel Clark, 
Henry Gates, Ebenezer Munroe, Samuel Phillips, John Gates, Jona- 
than Samson, Stephen Corey, Deacon Elisha White, John Willard, 
Joshua Smith, Grover Scollay, Joseph Burgess, Ebenezer Burgess, 
Simeon Brooks, John Corey, Joseph Stone, Ezra Stone, Elial 
Bacon, Jonas Reed, Daniel Knight, Jonathan Haven, John Haven, 
Nathaniel Adams, James Haynes, Phinehas Taylor, Hezekiah 
Corey (30). 

District Number Six. — Timothy Crehore, Benjamin Angier, 
Joseph Merriam, Moses Sanderson, Timothy Crehore, Jr., 
Frederick Crosby, Adam Stone, J. Hayden, William Holbrook, 
Jonah Rice, Nathaniel Foster, David Clark, William Harris (13). 

District Number Seven. — Samuel Cotting, Ithamer Fair- 
banks, James Weston, Colonel Francis Lane, Caleb Ward, Ezra 


Lawrence, Enos Jones, Joseph Fenno, Barnabas Baldwin, Abra- 
ham Cummings, Grant Houston, Moses Lawrence, Isaac Whit- 
more, Edmund Jones, Ebenezer B. Davis, widow Kezia Hobart, 
Captain Silas Willard (17). 

District Number Eight. — Simon Willard, Amos Pierce, 
Daniel Benjamin, Daniel Benjamin, Jr., Nathan Jones' place, 
William Stearns, Jesse Stearns, Joshua Barton, James Stearns' 
place, Joseph Steele, Daniel Mclntire, Ezra Hastings, Lemuel 
Stimson, Benjamin Lane, Josiah Lane, Captain Charles Hastings, 
Henry Willard (17). 

At a previous meeting the same year, on the petition of 
several families residing in the vicinity of Rice pond, a new 
district had been created for their accommodation. Under 
the arrangement embraced in the report of the committee 
these families were restored to the first district and their new 
district was annulled as soon as organized. Immediately 
they renewed their solicitations for an independent district 
and were again successful. In May, 1810, after several 
hearings the town " Voted to grant the request of Jacob 
Harris and others, which is to set off the following persons as 
a school district by themselves, viz. : Jacob Harris, Shebuel 
Hobart, Oliver Marble, Ezekiel S. Metcalf, Charles Hastings, 
Joel BaiTett, Thaddeus Brooks, John Winter, Jonas Randall, 
Josiah Lane, Oliver Marble, Jr., and Jonas Robbins." 

These radical changes in the district organizations did not 
restore tranquillity. The continued petitions of individuals 
to be annexed to a contiguous district were sometimes 
granted but more generally denied. After several refusals 
the inhabitants of Lane Village were permitted to organize 
the tenth district, but the boundaries were not defined by the 
town until 1829. The vote of the town was as follows: 
"That Samuel Foster, Ezekiel Metcalf, Francis Lane, Henry 
Kibling, Henry Kibling, Jr., David Hadley, Caleb Ward, 


John Kibling, Francis Kibling, Richard W. Houghton, Elias 
Lane, Alvin Ward, Henry Gipson, Moses Lawrence, 
Ebenezer B. Davis, Charles Davis, John C. Davis, Joseph 
Davis and Humphrey Harris, together with their estates and 
all the non-resident lands lying within the limits (together 
with Joel Foster and his estate if he wishes) , shall constitute 
school district Number Ten in the town of Ashburnham." 

Again, in 1832 the boundaries of all the districts were 
definitely established and several changes were made. Many 
now living were attending school when this order of the town 
was executed. Those whose former relations were ruthlessly 
severed, who were thus compelled to attend school in new 
places, who trod no more the old familiar paths to the school- 
house, nor met the familiar faces of their former playmates, 
will even now recall the proceeding with vivid recollection. 

A committee, consisting of George G. Parker, John Hall, 
Asa Woods, Elijah Brooks, Elisha White, Timothy Crehore, 
Jr., Enoch Whitmore, Jonas Willard, Charles Hastings, 
Elias Lane, — one from each district, — made the following 
recommendation which was adopted ; 

Your committee, appointed at the last March meeting to deter- 
mine and define the limits of the several school districts, having 
attended to that duty, would respectfully recommend that the 
several territories as hereafter bounded and described, with the in- 
habitants at any time residing thereon, should constitute different 
districts in this town, to wit : 

District Number One. — Beginning at the southeasterly cor- 
ner of William Whitney's farm and running northerly to the 
central point in the road between Reuben Townsend, Jr., and 
Mrs. Hunt ; thence northerly so as to cross the county road lead- 
ing through the village at the north end of Dr. Pierce's east wall 
near Thomas Hobart's land ; thence northerly to the junction of 
the Ashby road and the road leading to Emery Fairbanks' ; thence 


northwesterly to a stake and stones on the west side of New 
Ipswich road north of Corey & Ross' mill ; thence in the same 
direction to a stake and stones on the west side of the road 
between Jonas Robbins' and the said bank ; thence westerly to the 
south end of Meeting-house pond ; thence to the centre of the road 
fifty rods south of Ezekiel Metcalf ; thence northerty in the [line] 
of said road five rods north of Joel Foster's ; thence westerly so as 
to meet the county road at the east side of the French farm ; thence 
southeasterly to the junction of the roads leading by Oliver Sam- 
son's and Josiah Eaton's ; thence to a stake and stones on the 
north side of the road between Samuel Whitney's and Stephen 
Corey's at the division line between their farms ; thence south- 
easterly so as to cross the road leading by Joseph Harris' at the 
east end of his south wall near Captain Willard's land ; thence 
north of Mr. Barrett's to the southwest corner of William Whit- 
ney's farm at the line of the town of Westminster ; thence on said 
town line to the bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Two. — Beginning at Wilker's new road at 
the line of the town of Ashby ; thence running northerly on said 
Ashby line to the northwest corner of Elnathan Lawrence's farm ; 
thence southerly to the north end of Brooks' pond ; thence to the 
junction of the roads leading by Salmon Rice's and Joseph Dud- 
ley's ; thence southerly to the east side of Mount Hunger ; thence 
on District Number Three to the bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Three. — Beginning at the junction of the 
Ashby road and the road leading by Emery Fairbanks' ; thence 
easterly to a pair of bars across a pathway leading to Nathaniel 
Cutter's ; thence easterly to the southeast corner of Joshua Bil- 
lings' farm ; thence north on the line of the town of Ashby to 
Wilker's new road ; thence westerly to the side of Mount Hunger ; 
thence westerly to the northwest corner of Stephen Lane's 
pasture ; thence southerly to the bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Four. — Beginning at the southeast corner 

of William Whitney's farm ; thence on District Number One to 

the central point in the road between Reuben Townsend, Jr., and 

Mrs. Hunt's ; thence northerly crossing the county road at the 


north end of Dr. Pierce's east wall to the junction of the Ashby 
roacl and the road leading to Emery Fairbanks' ; thence easterly 
on District Number Three to a pair of bars across a passway 
leading to Nathaniel Cutter's ; thence easterly to the southeast 
corner of Joshua Billings' farm ; thence southerly and westerly on 
the line of the towns of Ashby, Fitchburg and Westminster to the 
bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Five. — Beginning at the southwesterly 
corner of William Whitney's farm ; thence northwesterly on the 
north side of William Barrell's and on District Number One to 
the junction of the roads leading by Oliver Samson's and Josiah 
Eaton's ; thence westerly so as to cross the turnpike leading to P. 
R. Merriam's at Sanderson's corner ; thence to the line of Gardner 
on the north side of Hezekiah Corey's farm ; thence southerly and 
easterly on the town line of said Gardner and Westminster to the 
bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Six. — Beginning at the line of the town of 
Gardner on the north side of Hezekiah Corey's farm ; thence 
easterly on District Number Five to Sanderson's corner ; thence 
on Districts Number Five and Number One to the county road 
leading from Ashburnham to Winchendon at the east side of the 
French farm, so-called ; thence to the northeasterly corner of 
James Laws' land ; thence westerly to the line of the town of 
Winchendon at the northwesterly corner of William Harris' farm ; 
thence on the town line of said Winchendon and Gardner to the 
bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Seven. — Beginning at the line of the town 
of Winchendon at the northwest corner of William Harris' farm ; 
thence easterly on District Number Six to the northeast corner of 
James Laws' land ; thence easterly to the southwest corner of 
Asa Tottingham's land ; thence easterly to the southeast corner 
of William Houghton's land ; thence northerl}^ to the northeast 
corner of said Houghton's land ; thence westerly to the southeast 
corner of Silas Willard's land ; thence north on Silas Willard, 
George Wood, Daniel Jones and Rial Cummings to the line of the 
State of New Hampshire ; thence westerly on said State line to 



the northwest corner of Ashburnham ; thence southerly on the 
line of the town of Winchendon to the bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Eight. — Beginnmg at the northwest corner 
of Captain T. Stearns' farm at the line of New Hampshire ; thence 
westerly on Rial Cummings, Daniel Jones, George Wood and 
Silas Willard to the southeast corner of Silas Willard's farm ; 
thence on District Number Seven to the southeast corner of 
William Houghton's land; thence southeasterly to the northwest 
corner of Lewis Willard's farm ; thence to the southeast corner of 
said Lewis Willard's farm ; thence easterly to land of Charles 
Hastings ; thence to the northwest corner of said Hastings' land ; 
thence southeasterly to land of Oliver Marble or Oliver Green ; 
thence easterly to land of Jesse Ellis ; thence north to the State 
line at land of Elnathan Lawrence ; thence on said State line to 
the bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Nine. — Beginning at the junction of the 
Ashby road and the road leading to Emery Fairbanks' ; thence 
westerly on District Number One to the south end of Meeting- 
house pond ; thence northerly on District Number Ten to John 
Lane's land ; thence easterly to Jesse Ellis' land ; thence southerly- 
to the north end of Brooks' pond ; thence on District Number 
Two to the east side of Mount Hunger ; thence westerlj^ to the 
northwest corner of Stephen Lane's pasture ; thence on District 
Number Three to the bounds first mentioned. 

District Number Ten. — Beginning in the centre of the road 
five rods north of Joel Foster's ; thence westerly to the south- 
westerly corner of Captain Francis Lane's farm ; thence to the 
northwest corner of Caleb Ward's land ; thence easterly and 
northerly on the pond to the northwest corner of Jacob Ward's 
farm ; thence easterly to the northwest corner of Lewis Willard's 
farm ; from thence to the southeast corner of said Lewis Willard's 
farm ; thence south to the Meeting-house pond ; thence south on 
the west side of said pond to the south end ; thence westerly and 
northerly on District Number One to the bounds first mentioned. 

Few changes in the boundaries of these districts are noted 
until 1850, when, by the division of the first district, the 


eleventh was organized. This measure was warmly debated 
and was carried by a small majority and at best it must be 
regarded as a measure of doubtful expediency. 

Under the provisions of the recent school laws of the State ^ 
with which all are presumed to be familiar, several attempts 
to vacate the district system were defeated by a majority of 
the town. In the mean time the measure was fully debated 
and was met Avith accumulating support. In 1878 the 
school district system was abolished and the appraisal of the 
houses and other school property was referred to the select- 
men. Since then the employment of the teachers and the 
prudential affairs of the schools have devolved upon the 
committee of supervision. For half a century, under the 
school code of 1827, the districts were organized corpora- 
tions, assuming and exercising the control of their prudential 
affairs. Previous to that date the town, in the choice of the 
prudential and superintending committees and in building 
school-houses, maintained a control over the schools which 
was renewed in 1878 when the district system was abolished. 
In the early history of the schools the town chose two com- 
mittees instead of one, yet in theory, and so far as the source 
of authority is concerned, the ancient and the modern sys- 
tems, separated by fifty years, are practically the same. 

Very little information of the first school-houses is found 
in the records, and in some instances the action of the town 
appears contradictory. In 1782 it was ordered "that each 
school quarter build school-houses by themselves if they are 
willing to have houses and that each quarter assess them- 
selves for that purpose." Within three months from the 
foregoing vote the town " granted one hundred and twenty 
pounds to be laid out in building school-houses and voted 
that each quarter draw their proportion of it," and at the 
same meeting permission was granted to build a school-house 



on the common. In 1786 sixty pounds and in 1793 seventy- 
five pounds was "granted to finish the school-houses." In 
1799 the town appropriated seventy-five dollars "towards 
building a school-house in Lieut. John Adams' ward in room 
of the one lately burned." Three years later it was voted 
to give Joseph Gibbs' school district fifty dollars towards 
building a school-house. This vote is connected with the 
reorganization of a ninth district which subsequently became 
known as the fourth district. At this date the districts were 
not numbered and were distinguished by the name of some 
prominent citizen. In 1809, when many of the school-houses 
were found too small or in need of repair, the town asserted 
its independence of continued responsibility in the premises 
in a declaration that " each school district should build its own 

It is apparent from the records and confirmed by tradition 
that a school-house was built on the northwest part of the 
<}ommon at the close of the Revolution. In 1809 a new house 
was built on the common north of land of Moses Tottins^ham 
-and east of the highway leading south from the old meeting- 
house. It was removed to the village in 1818. The site 
then selected has been occupied to the present time. At an 
•early date there was a school-house at the foot of the Charles 
Lawrence hill, but changes in the boundaries of the districts 
joined the families in that vicinity to the second and the 
•eighth districts. A school-house, which was burned in 1810, 
stood many years on the ledges, east of the residence of 
Warren E. Marble and not far from the house of Xathan and 
■Oliver Taylor, and a second building was erected on the 
same site. This was removed sixty or more years ago and 
stood several years across the road from its present location. 
The flowage of the meadow caused the last removal. It has 
been repaired frequently and is yet a comfortable school- 


house. Ill the third district, after the first house was burned 
another was built near the residence of Newell Marble which 
was succeeded by a brick house which proved too heavy for 
the moist ground on which it stood, and was replaced by the 
present frame building about forty years ago. 

An early house in the fourth district, built above eighty 
years ago, stood in the mill-yard of Cyrus A. Jefts. The 
present house was built in 1838. A few years before the 
close of the past century, a school-house was erected about 
two hundred yards north of the residence of Benjamin E. 
Wetherbee. The next house in this vicinity was located 
about as far west of the residence of Mr. Wetherbee and was 
burned almost forty years ago. In 1848 a two-story brick 
house was built on the present site. This house was burned 
in 1865. The new house, commodious and substantial, was 
built in 1867. Another ancient school-house was erected on 
the old road to Winchendon and near the Frederick Crosby 
place. Many years ago it was removed or a new one built 
near the Astor House. Later the centre of population was 
in Burrageville where rooms were rented for the accommo- 
dation of the school. In 1882 the present house was built. 
A portion of Number Seven has formed a part of several 
geographical districts. Tradition stoutly affirms that in very 
early times, for the accommodation of a large section of the 
town, there was a school-house west of the saw-mill of Isaac 
D. Ward and on an old road leadino^ from and north of the 
meeting-house in North Ashburnham. The tradition is prob- 
ably in accordance with the fact and it is also certain that 
one hundred years ago a house was built on a road long 
since discontinued, and about eighty yards north of the 
residence of Nathaniel R. Butler. The house was burned in 
1812. Immediately another was built north of the village 
of North Ashburnham at the junction of the Rindge road 


and a road now discontinued. In response to changes made 
in the boundaries of the district the house was removed to a 
point on the road leading from the Deacon Jones' place to 
the present site. The house near the residence of Henry 
Tuckerman was built in 1850, and is situated two miles from 
the centre of the original district. The first school-house in 
the eighth district, built at an early date, was located on 
the Stearns road, a short distance from the present house. 
It was burned in 1814 and its successor built the follow- 
ing year. The school-house in the ninth district was so 
thoroughly constructed at the organization of the district that 
attentive repairs have continued its preservation. The school- 
house provided in Lane Village at the organization of the 
district was continued until 1852 when the present substan- 
tial house was erected. 

The commencement of the present century was the begin- 
ning of a new era in the cause of popular education. The 
efforts of the past had taken root for a more vigorous growth, 
and many happy changes occurred within a few years. In 
most cases, to learn to read, write and spell, with some 
knowledge of the rules of arithmetic, was all that had been 
attempted. The text-books in use previous to 1800 were 
not numerous, and of a most primitive character. Dil- 
worth's and Perry's Spelling-Book, and Pike's Arithmetic 
would cut a sorry figure in the school-room at the present 
time. Late in the past century, Webster's Reader found its 
way into the school-room, as well as a small abridgment of 
Morse's Geography, which gave the briefest description of 
the earth's surface, and contained many startling facts. 
Alexander's Grammar was in the hands of only the most 
advanced and ambitious pupils. In any mention of the books 
of the period, the New England Primer must not be omitted. 
This volume of diminutive size, filled with wholesome truths. 


was found at every fireside, and was received in the school- 
room as a reading-book and safe counsellor. Every Satur- 
day, and sometimes more frequently, the entire school was 
required to "say the catechism," as found in this little volume. 
These exercises, and the truths inculcated, are not forgotten 
by the aged among us, but are shining brightly in their 
waning years. To them education, in an intellectual sense, 
was simply the measure of mental force, furnishing facilities 
to action, while these moral instructions were seized upon to 
direct and be the guiding principle of their lives. 

From an early date the most successful teachers in the 
public schools have been natives and residents of this town. 
Within the limits of this chapter it would be impossible to 
name even those who secured an enduring reputation in the 
traditions of the town. As early as 1790, Hon. Samuel 
Appleton, then of New Ipswich, was an instructor one term 
at least in the first humble school-house on the old common. 
Captain Caleb Wilder, portly in form, genial in manner, yet 
firm in discipline, was a successful teacher many years. 
Master Jesse Stearns, the physical counterpart of Mr. 
Wilder, upright in bearing and incisive in manner, was em- 
ployed in several districts. His fame as a teacher is familiar 
to the traditions of several towns in this vicinity. These 
worthies were succeeded by Hosea Green, Eleazer Flint of 
Winchendon, Stephen Wyman of Ashby, Artemas Longley, 
Ebenezer Frost, Hon. William B. Washburn, Hon. Amasa 
Norcross and many natives of Ashburnham whose dis- 
tinguished labor will be noticed in the family registers. 

It has been stated that the first appropriation made for 
schools in 1767 was eight pounds. With the exception of 
the years 1768, 1769 and 1776, in which no appropriation 
was made for this purpose, the town raised twelve pounds 
annually until and including 1777. In 1778, £40; 1779, 


£200; 1780, £1000; 1781, £4000 were respectively voted, 
but on account of the rapid depreciation of the currency 
during the Revolution, the schools did not receive any sub- 
stantial benefit over the former years. For several years 
after the Revolution £50 was annually raised and then the 
amount was increased from year to year until in the year 
1800, $300 was appropriated, and the gradual increase to the 
present time is briefly represented in the sums raised through 
the decades of the present century: 1810, $400; 1820, 
$500; 1830, $500; 1840, $900 ; 1850, $1400 ; 1860, $1700 ; 
1870, $3000; 1880, $2800. From 1872 to 1875, $3500, 
and from 1880 to 1884, $3000 has been appropriated for the 
schools of the town. 

From the first the amount of school money was determined 
by the town, but the vote was only the united voice of the 
districts. The tax w^as assessed and collected by the officers 
of the town because they could most readily and accurately 
proportion the amount each person should pay, but the 
school money was received and expended by the agents of 
the districts. Beyond the slender assistance of the towns, 
the public schools, in their infancy, were not the growth of 
public support nor the creation of State legislation, but were 
spontaneous in the several communities to meet the demands 
of each. Our common school system has clearly originated 
with the people. The perfection of our code of school laws 
rests in the fact that it is not creative but that it has rather 
seized and solidified the most advanced methods and the 
fullest measure of public sentiment. The law has seldom 
introduced new forms and unfamiliar methods, but has been 
content in the encouragement and support of those at once 
familiar and approved by the people. The schools have con- 
tinually been in advance of the statutes. 


The settlers in the towns in this vicinity divided them- 
selves into communities of convenient proportions, which 
existed upon the slender authority of the town for sixty 
years before the law vested these school districts with cor- 
porate power. The towns, in behalf of the districts, con- 
tinued to raise money for the establishment and maintenance 
of schools a long time before there was any statute compel- 
ling an appropriation which had been uniformly and cheer- 
fully made. The town, and later the several districts, built 
school-houses and subsequently the law gave them permission 
to continue a laudable practice. The people in the capacity 
of a town chose " committees to visit and inspect the 
schools " many years before the statutes made mention of a 
superintending school committee. True, law has given uni- 
formity and perfection to our school system, but the whole 
of it has sprung from and has first been tested and approved 
by the people. 

Various methods for the division of the school money 
among the districts have been employed. A few years each 
district has received an equal share of the annual appropria- 
tion without regard to the tax paid by the district or the 
number of scholars attending school. This system was 
succeeded by a division according to the number of scholars 
and also on the basis of the wealth or the tax paid by each 
district. After a trial of one and then another of these 
antagonistic systems for several years, a compromise was 
adopted which led to an absolute division of the greater part 
and a discretionary division of the remainder of the school 

From 1868 to 1875 the town maintained a high school 
one or more terms each year with a reasonable measure of 
success. The schools were assembled in the basement of 
the armory and in the school-houses in the first and eleventh 


districts. The teachers were Samuel J. Bullock, Melvin O. 
Adams, Charles E. Woodward, Fred W. Russell, Francis 
A. Whitney, Martin H. Fiske, F. T. Beede, Mary A. 
Sawyer and E. A. Hartwell. 

Commencing with the inauguration of Cushing Academy 
in 1875, the youth of this town have enjoyed the benefit of 
a permanent high school. For several years the town paid 
one thousand dollars and at present is paying seven hundred 
dollars annually to the academy for the maintenance of a high 
school department without tuition from resident pupils. 

The prudential affairs of the districts, including the 
employment of the teachers, were conducted by the select- 
men until 1778. At this date the town proceeded to choose 
a prudential committee, or agent, for each district and con-^ 
tinned to exercise this authority for fifty years. Not until 
1828 were there any district organizations. The laws of 
1827 introduced many substantial improvements. By it the 
districts were permitted to assume the control of their local 
affairs, and towns were required to choose annually a com- 
mittee of supervision. Previous to this date the choice of 
a superintending committee was optional with the towns. 
Commencing at an early date three or more persons, styled 
"a committee to visit the schools," were chosen nearly every 
year, but under the operation of the new law the committee 
of supervision was vested with increased authority and 

The first committee " to view " the schools was chosen in 
1793. It included the minister, the selectmen and Joshua 
Smith, Stephen Randall, John Adams, Jacob Willard and 
Enos Jones. In the years immediately following, to Joseph 
Jewett, William Pollard, John Whiteman, Ezra Dana, 
William Stearns, Elisha White, Dr. Abraham Lowe, 
Thomas Adams, Timothy Crehore, Isaac Whitmore, Francis 


Lane, Joshua Townsend, Amos Wetherbee and Samuel 
Wilder was committed the supervision of the schools. 

During the first decade of the present century there is no 
record of the election of a superintending committee. Com- 
mencing in 1811, with the exception of four years, from 
three to nine persons have been annually elected ; introduc- 
ing new names each year the roll of the committee is the 
register of a legion. The names of those who have served 
two or more years, the date of their first election and the 
term of service are appended : Kev. John Gushing, 1811 
(4) ; Caleb Wilder, 1811 (7) ; Jesse Stearns, 1811 (5) ; 
Ivers Jewett, 1811 (6) ; Dr. Abraham Lowe, 1811 (3) ; 
Jacob Harris, 1812 (2) ; George R. Gushing, 1813 (9) ; 
Caleb Ward, 1815 (3) ; Jacob Harris, Jr., 1816 (2) ; Dr. 
Abraham T. Lowe, 1818 (2) ; Jonas Willard, 1818 (2) ; 
Charles Stearns, 1820 (3) ; Rev. George Perkins, 1826 
(4) ; Hosea Green, 1826 (2) ; Thomas Bennett, 1826 (2) ; 
Colonel Enoch Whitmore, 1826 (3) ; John C. Glazier, 1828 
(3) ; Gilman Jones, 1829 (2) ; Ebenezer Frost, 1829 (12) ; 
Rev. George Goodyear, 1833 (4) ; George G. Parker, 1833 
(2) ; Rev. John W. Case, 1835 (2) ; Dr. Nathaniel Pierce, 
1835 (3) ; Dr. William P. Stone, 1838 (3) ; Jerome 
W. Foster, 1839 (8); John A. Conn, 1841 (10); Elliot 
Moore, 1841 (3 ) ; William P. Ellis, 1845 ( 3) ; Rev. Elna- 
than Davis, 1847 (3); Dr. Alfred Miller, 1848 (10); 
Rev. Josiah D. Crosby, 1850 (11); Francis A. Whitney, 
1850 (16) ; Edward S. Flint, 1855 (3) ; Levi W. Russell, 

1856 (2) ; Hosea F. Lane, 1857 (3) ; Charles W. Burrage, 

1857 (3) ; Albert H. Andrews, 1858 (4) ; Dr. L. L. Whit- 
more, 1860 (4) ; Henry Tuckerman, 1860 (3) ; John W. Fay, 

1860 (2); Asher Moore, 1860 (4); Ohio Whitney, Jr., 

1861 (3) ; Samuel Howard, 1862 (3) ; Dr. Theron Temple, 
1864 (3) ; Charles E. Woodward, 1865 (11) ; Dr. Harvey D. 


Jillson, 1867 (3); Rev. Daniel Wight, 1870 (3); Nathan 
Eaton, 1870 (8); Wilbur F. Whitney, 1870 (10); Rev. 
Leonard S. Parker, 1872 (5); Marshall Wetherbee, 1873 
(3) ; Charles F. Rockwood, 1876 ( 6 ) ; Prof. James E. Yose, 
1878 (3) ; Fred D. Lane, 1880 (5) ; Mrs. Mary S. Barrett, 
1880 (3). 




The causes, which led to the endowment of Gushing 
Academy and its establishment in Ashburnham, are not 
adventitious. In the mission of the school the ministry of 
the father is renewed in the munificence of the son. Illib- 
eral and ungenerous would be the thought that by a single 
act of beneficence on the part of Thomas Parkman Gushing 
the academy bearing his name was founded. An impulse 
of princely benevolence without the means to sustain it, or 
the wisdom to direct its course, is unavailing. The pre- 
requisites to the endowment of Gushing Academy were a 
life of toil, supported by habits of frugality, and the wisdom 
displayed, in the conditions of the bequest, was the fruitful 
thought of a sagacious mind. When the youth left the 
parental roof engaging at an early age in the activities of 
life, the seminary was deferred only by the measure of a 
lifetime, and as often as his thought returned to the place 
of his nativity and the familiar scenes of his childhood, its 

location in Ashburnham was assured. 

•' 350 


The events of the past, the utility of the present and the 
possibilities of the future can be most clearly presented in 
an unpretentious narrative of what has been done and what 
is contemplated by the trustees who have faithfully and suc- 
cessfully executed the express desire and have created in 
substantial form the image of the matured thought of 
Thomas Parkman Gushing. With meteoric splendor, the 
Gushing Academy did not spring into existence. Like the 
sturdy oak its growth has been slow and solidified. Its 
character and features, cemented and hardened by the lapse 
of years, are strong and enduring. The visible origin of the 
institution is the will and testament of Mr. Gushing, dated 
July 30, 1850. In its provisions it is a most happy alliance 
of wisdom and philanthropy, of liberality and prudence. 
There is no shadow of an impulse. It is the language and 
it carries the impress of a conclusion. It is apparent that 
every clause of this beneficent document was formulated and 
clear in the mind of its author before it was written. Nor 
need we invoke the license of imagination to presume that 
on some of the hills in Ashburnham he was accustomed to 
behold in the clear lines of reality the completed edifice on 
which the thought of his mind was so vividly inclined ; that 
he beheld the established seats of learning shedding their 
beneficent rays of light and knowledge over a wide expanse 
of country, and that with his mind thus allied to the future, 
his appeal for the cooperation of others was the prayer of 
an earnest purpose that these influences should not fade with 
the lapse of years. 

The lano-uasre of the testator in the eis^hteenth item of his 
will is evidence that his plans were fully matured and "that 
he was earnest upon the subject of education as the saving 
grace of the republic." 


And, whereas, it is my opinion that the stability of our Laws, 
and the safety of our Government, the right direction of our 
Eepublican Institutions, the preservation of virtue, and of good 
morals : and, in short, the well-being and happiness of society, 
depend in a great degree upon the general diffusion of practical 
and useful knowledge among the people, I am particularly desi- 
rous of using a portion of the estate with which God has blessed 
me, for the promotion of so important an object as that of 
improving the education, and thus of strengthening and enlarging 
the minds of the rising and of future generations. Hoping that 
others having similar views and opinions, will hereafter cooperate 
with me towards effecting the same great and desirable end : my 
Will, therefore, further is. That two schools or seminaries of 
learning, shall be established and forever continued in my native 
town of Ashburnham, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ; 
entirely distinct, and separated from each other by a distance of 
at least a quarter of a mile — the one for males of over ten years 
of age, and the other for females of over ten years of age. And 
for the foundation and endowment of these schools, I give to the 
Executors hereinafter named, and to their successors forever, in 
trust only, as follows. 

Following with unfailing precision of statement and having 
appealed to the cooperative philanthropy of others, the donor 
enumerates several specific bequests " for improving the 
education and thus streno^thenino: and enlaro^ino: the minds of 
the rising and of future generations." In regard to the 
magnitude of the bequest it is sufficient in this connection to 
state that in round numbers ninety -six thousand dollars was 
placed to the credit of the Gushing Academy immediately 
after its organization under the charter of 1865. The founder 
of our academy did not fail to provide for the future. With 
implicit confidence in "the judgment and discretion of the 
trustees " and in " the wisdom and foresight of the Legisla- 
ture " his advisory wishes are clearly set forth. 


And, in order to render the seminaries of learning herein estab- 
lished more efficient and extensively useful by an enlarged founda- 
tion, it is my further Will that the Trustees hereinafter named, 
shall diligently and promptly invest the several sums herein given 
to them, in trust, as they may be realized, for the foundation of 
said seminaries in such funds and securities as they in their dis- 
cretion shall think best, and reinvest the income of the same during 
the period of ten years after my decease. When that period shall 
have elapsed, my further Will is, that the Trustees, hereinafter 
named, shall apply for, and obtain from the Legislature of this 
Commonwealth, a suitable Act of Incorporation or Charter, under 
which all the business and affairs of the schools herein founded 
may be conducted forever. The details of the Act, such as the 
number of Trustees under it, how they shall be appointed or 
elected, so as to insure as far as possible in perpetuity, a succession 
of honest, honorable, judicious and intelligent men ; the guards 
to be adopted to prevent the waste or loss of the property belong- 
ing to the institution, etc., etc., I leave to the good judgment and 
discretion of the Trustees hereinafter named, and to the wisdom 
and foresight of the Legislature. 

The trustees selected by the testator were Rev. Dr. Francis 
Way land, a brother of his wife ; Hon. Heman Lincoln, who 
married his sister; William D. Sohier, Esq., for many years 
his legal adviser ; and Hon. Charles Gr. Loring. Mr. Sohier 
resigning, the appointment of the remaining gentlemen was 
approved and the will confirmed by the Probate Court 
December 26, 1854. The immediate control of the fund was 
committed by his associates to Mr. Loring. In accordance 
with the express desire of Mr. Cushing, ten years having 
elapsed, an act of incorporation was secured in 1865, and the 
trustees of the will were succeeded by a board of trust 
created by the charter. 

The trustees, thirteen in number, with power to fill 
vacancies were as follows : Rev. Dr. Francis Wayland of 



Providence, K. I. ; Hon. Alexander H. Bullock of Worcester ; 
Rev. Josiah D. Crosby ; Eev. Asa Eand ; Hon. Ohio Whit- 
ney, Jr. ; Jerome W. Foster, Esq., and George C. Win- 
chester of Ashburnham ; Dr. Abraham T. Lowe of Boston ; 
Ebenezer Torrey, Esq., Hon. Alvah Crocker and Hon. 
Amasa Norcross of Fitchburg ; Rev. Abijah P. Marvin and 
Isaac M. Murdock of Winchendon. At the organization of 
the board, September 6, 1865, Rev. Dr. Wayland was 
chosen president, Mr. Torrey treasurer and Rev. Mr. 
Crosby secretary. Upon the death of Rev. Dr. Wayland, 
he was succeeded by Governor Bullock July 10, 1867. 
As none of the original fund could be used for building 
purposes, the board of trust early decided to build whenever 
the accumulations would be found sufficient. Under the 
sagacious management of Mr. Loring and his able successor, 
Mr. Torrey, the fund accumulated beyond the most sanguine 

In the mean time the trustees clearly perceived that the 
school could be organized earlier, by several years, if only 
one edifice was erected. After mature deliberation, and r^ 
mindful of the provision of the testator that while there 
was to be only one institution but accommodated in two 
school buildings, separated from each other by a distance at 
least of a quarter of a mile, they obtained the unqualified 
consent of the heirs and of the executors of the will to a 
modification of the plan of the founder in a single provision. 
The separate education of the sexes in schools and seminaries 
was more warmly advocated at the time the bequest was 
made than in later years. The tendency of public sentiment 
which probably influenced Mr. Cushing with equal force 
appealed in another direction to the board of trust. 

In 1873 the accumulation of the fund was found sufficient 
to meet the expense of a suitable school edifice, and while 


the location of the building was under consideration, the 
question was happily solved by the liberality of George C. 
Winchester who presented the corporation the site of the 
institution with ample grounds for the accommodation of the 
school which, in appreciative recognition of the donor, has 
received the name of "Winchester Square." 

The academy and the square having other names would be 
held in less esteem. The park and the building are a memo- 
rial of the first and the second ministers of Ashburnham. 
The analogy is complete. Rev. Jonathan AYinchester laid 
the foundations of a church and defined a field of labor. 
Rev. John Gushing builded in fair proportions on a site 
selected and a structure begun. These venerable names, 
living in the memories and history of the town, are together 
perpetuated through the thoughtful tributes of their 

While under the general control of the board of trustees, 
the construction of the school edifice was referred to Georsfe 
C. Winchester, Ebenezer Torrey and Jerome W. Foster. 
In 1871 Ohio Whitney, who was the eflScient superintendent 
of construction, was chosen to fill a vacancy caused by the 
death of Mr. Foster. The entire cost of the buildino- and 
the furniture was $92,611.75. 

The material of the building, one hundred and thirty-two 
feet in length and fifty-two feet in width, is granite and 
brick. Above a light and commodious basement of granite 
are two spacious stories of brick with gTanite trimmings, 
surmounted by a Mansard roof which encloses a principal 
hall extending the length and breadth of the building. 
There are projecting turrets at the corners and a lofty 
central tower which contains a heavy bell and an expensive 
clock. In symmetry of outline, in elegance and thorough- 
ness of construction and in the convenience of all its appoint- 


ments, the edifice of the Cashing Academy is equalled by 
none in this vicinity. Facing the rising sun, and overlook- 
ing the village and the spreading valley below, it occupies a 
commanding site and will long remain a conspicuous figure 
in the landscape and in the continued annals of the town. 
The building was mainly completed during the year 1874. 
It was substantially furnished the following season and 
dedicated September 7,1875. Addresses were delivered by 
Governor Bullock, president, and by Rev. Mr. Crosby, 
Rev. Mr. Marvin, Hon. Amasa Norcross and Professors 
Hubbard and Thompson of the board of trust. A liberal 
course of study had been arranged and the school was opened 
the following day. 

The accumulating Cushing fund, after meeting the cost of 
construction of the school edifice, was found in November, 
1876, to be $120,542.34, and since that date the fund 
remains unimpaired, the income only being used for the 
maintenance of the school. 

The spacious dwelling, appropriately named Jewett Hall, 
and now employed in the accommodation of instructors and 
pupils connected with the school, was presented to the cor- 
poration by Charles Hastings, and the Crosby house on Cen- 
tral street was donated by Rev. Josiah D. Crosby to found, 
in memory of his wife, the Elvira W. Crosby scholarship. 

A library of nearly two thousand volumes, including 
ofenerous donations from Dr. A. T. Lowe of Boston and 
from several residents of this town, has been collected and 
will become of inestimable service to the school. The 
apparatus for scientific illustration and experiment is annu- 
ally increasing. Prominent in this department is a valuable 
telescope, presented by J. H. Fairbanks of Fitchburg. 

The mission of Cushing Academy is scarce begun. Its 
brief history, if conspicuous and honorable, fades in the 


light and warmth of its hopes and its aspirations. These 
pages are annals of the past. The face of this youthful, vig- 
orous institution is turned the other way. Situated in a 
broad field, with a rapidly increasing patronage, and bear- 
ing the confidence of the public, it enters upon its second 
decade with hope and courage. 

The first principal of Cushing Academy was Edwin 
Pierce, A. M., who continued in charge four years, and 
whose name is honorably associated with the initial history 
of the institution. The excellent reputation of Professor 
Pierce as a scholar and an able instructor led the board of 
trustees to solicit his services and to his care they confided 
the school with unlimited confidence. In character, in purity 
of motives and in faithful, earnest endeavors to carry the 
school through the exacting ordeal of its inauguration, the 
confidence of the trustees was not misplaced. In the prog- 
ress of his labors in this institution it gradually became 
apparent to Professor Pierce and to the board of trustees 
that they were not in full sympathy in regard to discipline 
and that there was a failure of cooperation on the part of 
all the friends of the academy. With the universal confi- 
dence and respect of the community, Mr. Pierce retired 
from labors auspiciously begun in June, 1879. From the 
first he was recognized as a cultured gentleman and in all 
his relations with the school and with the people he was 
frank, sincere and honorable. 

Edwin Pierce, son of Dana and Diadema (Paul) Pierce, 
was born at Barnard, Vermont, June 25, 1826. He pur- 
sued a preparatory course of study at Woodstock, Vermont, 
and at Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, New Hampshire, 
and was graduated at Dartmouth College 1852. The suc- 
ceeding four years he was instructor of Latin and Greek at 
Seneca Colleo-iate Institute, Ovid, New York. From 1856 


to 1863 he was professor of Latin and Greek at Yellow 
Spring College, Iowa ; his connection with that institution 
was severed by its decline at the outbreak of the Rebellion. 
During the succeeding eight years he successfully taught a 
private school in Jersey City, New Jersey, and later he 
taught the classics in the High School of Cleveland, Ohio, 
until he became connected with Cushing Academy. He 
now resides at West Newton, Massachusetts. 

Professor Pierce was succeeded by Professor Vose who 
has been a member of the faculty since the opening of the 
academy. During the past six years he has continued the 
efficient principal of the school and his successful administra- 
tion has been a continued season of prosperity. His service 
to the school and to the cause of education cannot be esti- 
mated until the remaining chapters are added and his labor 
is completed. 

Prof. James E. Vose, son of Edward L. and Aurelia 
(Wilson) Yose of Antrim, New Hampshire, was born July 
18, 1836. His life has been devoted to educational pursuits. 
He has had charge of several institutions of learning and 
was principal of Francestown (New Hampshire) Academy 
two years immediately preceding his removal to this town. 
He is the author of an English Grammar, and in 1877 he 
delivered the Centennial Address at Antrim which is pub-^ 
lished in the History of that town. 

Of the persons who constituted the original board of trust 
only four now remain. The term of service and the date of 
appointment of the trustees are briefly stated : 

Francis Wayland, 1865, died 18G7. 

Alexander H. Bullock, 1865, resigned 1876. 

Josiah D. Crosby, 1865. 

Asa Rand, 1865, died 1871. 

Ohio Whitney, Jr., 1865, died 1879. 



Jerome W. Foster, 

1865, died 1871. 

George C. Winchester, 

1865, resigned 1882 

Abraham T. Lowe, 


Ebenezer Torrey, 


Alvah Crocker, 

1865, died 1874. 

Amasa Norcross, 


Abijah P. Marvin, 

1865, resigned 1880. 

Isaac M. Murdock, 

1865, died 1875. 

George H. Barrett, 


Leonard S. Parker, 


Eli A. Hubbard, 

1874, resigned 1879. 

Charles 0. Thompson, 

1875, resigned 1882 

B. K. Pierce, 


George F. Stevens, 


Francis A. Whitney, 


Orlando Mason, 


Charles Winchester, 


Henry M. Tyler, 


George P. Davis, 


Presidents : 

Rev. Dr. Wayland, 


Gov. Bullock, 


Dr. Lowe, 


Vice-Presidents : 

Gov. Bullock, 


Hon. Amasa Norcross, 


Treasurers : 

E. Torrey, Esq., 


Hon. Ohio Whitney, 


G. F. Stevens, Esq., 


Clerks : 

Rev. J. D. Crosby, 


Col. Geo. H. Barrett, 










Encroachment upon the borders of this town has been a 
favorite pursuit of our neighbors. Four considerable tracts 
of land have been severed from the original township, and 
other attempts have been successfully resisted. Our fathers 
could spare the land such as it was, and no doubt both the 
donors and the recipients wished it had been better, but the 
loss of several worthy citizens was a more serious considera- 
tion. According to the surveys of the several grants the 
original township contained twenty-seven thousand one 
hundred and ninety acres. The early surveys were of liberal 
proportions. The wilderness from which the grants were 
severed was large and there was no one to protect the 
province from excessive measurements. The actual area of 
this township was very nearly thirty-one thousand acres. 
The first encroachment upon our domain of fair proportions 
was by the province of New Hampshire in 1741. By this 
act eight hundred and seventy-seven acres Avere severed from 
Dorchester Canada. The incorporation of Ashby severed 



about fifteen hundred acres from the area of this town. 
The proceedings were so intimately connected with the in- 
corporation of Ashburnham that they were admitted in an 
earlier chapter of these annals. 

The erection of a new town out of parts of Ashburnham, 
Westminster, Templeton and Winchendon was earnestly 
debated and the preliminaries arranged as early as 1774. 
In the intent of the petitioners, in the generous impulse of 
the remaining portions of the several towns, in the general 
policy of the General Court to increase the number of the 
towns in the province, in the spirit of the event, Gardner is 
a decade older than the number of its years. The Ke volution 
delayed but did not defeat the project. In the dawn of 
returning peace it was successfully renewed. So far as the 
action of Ashburnham is concerned, the suggestion of a new 
town near the close of the Revolution was not presented as a 
new measure, but as a continuation of the proceedings 
begun several years earlier. In 1774, or eleven years before 
Gardner was incorporated, the town "voted that the 
petitioners from Westminster and other towns be so far 
answered in their petition as to take the lands, after named, 
fi'om this town beginning at the northwest corner of Kelton's 
lot, number 46, second division, and running from thence on 
a straight line to the southeast corner of William Ames' lot, 
number 55, in the second division, and the said corner of 
land is voted off to join with the other towns to be incor- 
porated into a district." 

Referring to this vote it was proposed in 1781, "To see if 
the town would vote off two ranges of lots in addition to 
what was formerly voted off in the southwest corner." 
Whereupon the town. May 21, 1781, amended the former 
vote but added only a small part of the two ranges included 
in the proposition. 


Voted that the southwest corner of this town be set off to join 
with a part of Westminster and Winchendon into a separate town 
as far as the following lots viz. : beginning at the northwest 
corner of lot number 45, second division ; from thence by the 
north line of said lot to the northeast corner of said lot ; from 
thence straight to the northeast corner of lot number 55, second 
division ; thence by the east line of said lot to Westminster town 
line. Including 2348 acres. 

The point of beginning, as defined by this vote, is about 
eighty rods north of the point established in 1774. The 
other terminus in Westminster line is the same in both votes. 
When Gardner was incorporated four years later the land 
severed from Ashburnham, and consequently the line then 
established between the two towns, coincided at all points 
with the line defined in the last vote of this town. In later 
years the line has been broken at two points, at least, for the 
accommodation of individuals. The records of Ashburnham 
in this connection define only one of the boundary lines of 
the territory severed from this town. If the existing lines 
between Ashburnham and Winchendon and between Ash- 
burnham and Westminster be extended, the former southerly 
and the latter southwesterly, they will meet at Gardner 
Centre, and with the former line will enclose the triangular 
area that, until 1785, was a part of Ashburnham. Con- 
cerning the number of acres included within these lines the 
doctors disagree. Eev. Dr. Cushing, in his historical dis- 
course, estimates it at four thousand acres. To the record 
of the vote the town clerk has appended, " including 2348 
acres." This amount is too small but it is much nearer 
exactness than the more liberal conjecture of Mr. Cushing. 

Ashburnham, still rich in the extent of its territor}^ could 
easily afford the lands donated to the new town, but the loss 
of several worthy citizens from the municipal community 


was a more important consideration. The families residing 
on the area severed from this town were in themselves and 
have continued in their descendants a material element of the 
character and population of Gardner. 

Captain Samuel Kelton came from Needham to this town 
1778, and settled on land belonging to the heirs of Edward 
Kelton who was an early proprietor of right number 47, and 
afterwards of right number 49. The eminent services of 
Captain Kelton are noticed in another connection. He 
resided on the northern part of the land set off to Gardner 
and near the line of Winchendon. In 1785 his family com- 
prised a wife and three or four children. One child died in 
this town November 30, 1780. 

Marvrick Hill, from Medway, and five sons, three of whom 
had families, resided in this town several years before their 
farms were annexed to Gardner. Moses Hill, the eldest son, 
had four cliildren in 1785, and in the family of Jesse Hill, 
another son of Marvrick, were three or four children. Mr. 
Cushing has left the record of the baptism of James Marvrick 
and Thomas Adams, sons of Moses Hill, and Enos and 
William, sons of Samuel Kelton, baptized at the house of 
Mr. Hill, at a lecture. In another connection Mr. Cushing 
refers to " the lecture at Mr. Hill's in the southwest part." 
In these families there were probably twenty-two persons. 

Josiah Wilder removed to this town from Sterling about 
1776. His wife and one child died in 1782, and he married, 
second, February 4, 1784, Joanna Baker. He was a distant 
relative of other families of same name in this town. Three 
children were living in 1785. 

Jonas Richardson came from Shrewsbury in 1781, and was 
admitted to the church in Ashburnham October 21 of that 
year. In 1785 his family consisted of his wife and eight 
children, the eldest thirteen years of age. 


John White was born in Lexington, June 1, 1748, and 
settled in the east part of the tract annexed to Gardner about 
six years before the incorporation of that town. There were 
three children in 1785. 

Peter Goodale was born in Shrewsbury, December 12, 
1751. He was married in the north parish of Shrewsbury, 
now West Boylston, March 9, 1775, and their eldest child 
was born there December 23, 1775. Soon after the last 
date the family removed to this town. They had four 
children when Gardner was incorporated. 

Scarcely had Ashburnham generously and good-humoredly 
contributed materially to the creation of Gardner before 
another draft was made upon its domain and inhabitants. 
This time, the attack was made upon the opposite corner of 
the town. In the end it was vigorously opposed. The 
original line of Ashby extended from an existing town 
bound on Blood or Prospect hill, nearly due north to the 
State line. For twenty-five years the northeast corner of 
Ashburnham was nearly two miles east of the present corner. 
A number of families in this part of the town for several 
years had not been in sympathy with a majority of the town 
in the support of the ministry. And as soon as a new meet- 
ing-house was proposed their slumbering discontent was 
fanned in open revolt. In the spring of 1791, under the 
leadership of John Abbott, they signified to Ashby a desire 
to be annexed to that town. Ashby promptly responded in 
a vote " to receive Isaac Whitney, Josiah Burgess, James 
Pollard, James Bennett, Joseph Damon, Jeremiah Abbott, 
John* Hall, Daniel Brown, John Abbott, Amos Brooks, 
John Shattuck and others with their lands together with the 
non-resident land within the bounds of a plan that they shall 
exhibit to the town if the}' can be legally annexed to this 
town." The following month a meeting was convened in 


this town " To hear the petition of Ensign John Abbott and 
others requesting to be voted off with fourteen hundred 
acres of land to be annexed to Ashby if the town see fit.'* 
The town did not see fit. The petitioners were answered 
with a cold and unqualified refusal. Undaunted, they 
renewed their solicitation and caused another meeting to be 
called in the autumn of the same year. At this stage of the 
proceedings the town attempted to crush the revolt by paci- 
fying the leader of it and proceeded to " vote oflf " about five 
hundred acres including the homestead and other lands of 
Mr. Abbott. The proposed compromise was a failure. 
The petitioners refusing to accept the proposition renewed 
their orioinal demands and secured another town meetino* 
early in the spring of 1792. Again the town refused to 
grant their petition. It is plain the petitioners were depre- 
ciating in the good opinion of the town. The gentleman, 
whom they styled at the outset as Ensign John Abbott, is 
now called Mr. John Abbott and soon after he was degraded 
to plain John Abbott. Another town meeting was called 
in May, 1792, at which the town "voted to oppose any 
families or land being taken from this town and annexed to 
Ashby more than was voted oft' at a former meeting and that 
the representative act in behalf of the town in that matter 
at the General Court, — the vote being unanimous except 
seven persons and those were petitioners for being set off." 

The issues were now sharply defined and the controversy 
was transferred to the Legislature. Samuel Wilder, Abra- 
ham Lowe and Jacob Willard were chosen to remonstrate 
with the Legislature against this encroachment upon the 
territory of the town. Jacob Willard, also, was the repre- 
sentative at this time. The earnest effort of the town and 
its agents in opposition to the measure was met with defeat. 
The act, severing the land of the petitioners from this town. 


was passed November 16, 1792. By the terms of the act 
the northeast corner of Ashburnham on the State line was 
established five hundred and four rods west of the former 
bound and at land of James Spaulding. The dividing line 
from the new corner extended southerly by the east line of 
James Spaulding one hundred and forty-five rods, and 
thence southeasterly eight hundred and seventy rods to the 
line of Ashby. Henry Hall, Sen., who lived within these 
limits, did not join in the petition. His farm was divided 
by this proposed line and by a special clause in the act all 
his land remained in this town. 

If the purpose of the Legislature had been faithfully 
executed the dividing line between Ashburnham and Ashby 
would have been located between Ward and Watatic ponds 
and would have annexed to Ashby a larger area than was 
subsequently included within the established bounds. 
When the line was run southeasterly from the State line, 
local attraction at the base of Watatic mountain caused a 
variation of the needle, deflecting the course to the east. 
Giving a liberal construction to the act of the Legislature, 
the line was run straight to Blood or Prospect hill. The 
selectmen of Ashburnham and Ashby in a joint repoi-t 
informed their respective towns, " That when we came to 
the easterly corner of Potatuck hill a mine drawed the 
needle and ran between Henry Hall Jr.'s house and barn 
and came to the old line between Ashburnham and Ashby 
on a hill called Prospect hill and erected a stake and stones." 
The line here described, which was run according to the 
needle and not according to law, has been maintained to the 
present time ; the only exception being a slight change to 
restore to Ashburnham a part of the farm of Lemuel Whit- 
ney, formerly of Henry Hall, Jr., which had been divided 
by the new line. The. hidden mine at the base of Watatic 



saved the town many acres of land. It is the only mine in 
Ashburnham that has been successfully operated. At the 
beginning it was worked for all it was worth and possibly 
its resources were early exhausted. 

The families transferred to Ashby included those of John 
Abbott, five children ; Jeremiah Abbott, two children ; 
Daniel Brown, three children ; James Bennett, two children ; 
John Hall, one child; Amos Brooks, eight children; Isaac 
Whitney, four children ; Judah Whitney, one child ; the 
widow of Ephraim Whitney, two children ; James Pollard, 
John Shattuck and Joseph Damon. 

The remorseless knife of the General Court, which three 
times had clipped a considerable tract from the corners of 
the township, was next brandished over the peaceful hamlets 
in the southeast part of the town. These depredations on 
the borders were becoming a most serious matter. The 
original pentagonal township, with its sharp, projecting 
corners, would soon be trimmed to a diminutive circle if 
the process was not stayed. The project of creating a new 
town out of adjoining portions of Ashburnham, Westmin- 
ster, Fitchburg and Ashby, now buried beneath the accu- 
mulating dust of ninety years, was bold and aggressive. 
The measure was forwarded with ability, but was crushed 
beneath the united opposition of the four adjoining towns. 
A list of the names of the persons engaged in the enterprise, 
and living within the limits of the proposed township, has 
been preserved. It bears the names of thirty citizens of 
Fitchburg, sixteen of Westminster, six of Ashburnham and 
two of Ashby. Eight, and possibly more, names were 
added previous to 1791 and one or more of these resided 
in Ashburnham. The movement originated in 1785. 

The petitioners continued their solicitations and the town 
a persistent opposition until the beginning of the present 


century. In the mean time the petitioners adopted a limited 
orofanization and built a meetinof-house and laid out a com- 
mon in anticipation of securing from the Legislature the 
desired act of incorporation. The meeting-house was built 
by voluntary contributions. The long list of pledges for 
the material presents a bewildering assortment of sills, 
beams, posts, girts, rafters, boards, shingles, nails, a little 
money, and other donations, to forward the undertaking. 
There was also a special subscription in labor and stimulat- 
ing material to assist in framing and raising the building, — 
containing pledges for one hundred and fifty-eight days labor 
at framing, seventy-five at raising, a few modest sums of 
money, twenty-four bushels of rye, one hundred and fifty- 
eight quarts of rum and forty-five gallons of cider. With 
Landlords Cooper and Upton living hard by in case of a 
failure of any of the supplies, these doughty church builders, 
surveying their situation with complacency, entered on their 
records, " enough has been subscribed to raise and cover 
the meeting-house except a part of the boards and shingles." 
Li 1789, with spirit and understanding, as long as the last 
requisite remained, they raised a frame forty-five feet square. 
Two years were consumed in fitful eftbrts in completing the 
outside. The interior was never fully completed. The 
building, profanely called the Lord's barn standing in plain 
view on Cooper hill in Westminster, was a familiar object 
for many years. At a late day, it has been suggested that 
the impulse Avhich led to the building of this house was a 
failure of sympathy with the creed of the surrounding 
churches. The most reliable information leads to the con- 
clusion that they were adherents to the prevailing creed and 
could not fairly be considered as an association of dissenters. 
Their first efibrt to obtain preaching was a vote extending an 
invitation to the Orthodox ministers in Ashburnham, Winch- 


endon, Westminster, Fitchburg and Lunenburg to preach 
to them. Many of the leading men in this enterprise were 
members of the standing order in the several towns in which 
they lived. Not organizing a church as they anticipated at 
the outset, their original relations were continued until dis- 
solved by death. 

Joshua Billings, Joseph Gibbs and Reuben Rice were 
members of the church in Ashburnham, and so was John 
Ward who lived over the line in Westminster. Even under 
the unyielding discipline of the time, their association with 
this movement did not provoke the censure of the church. 
The Lord's barn and its builders were orthodox. Of itself 
the old meeting-house in Westminster has little connection 
with the history of this town ; but as a part of a more com- 
prehensive project, as the first step towards the incorporation 
of the proposed town of Belvoir, it caused our fathers gi'eat 
alarm. The erection of an unpretentious building was of 
little moment, but this persistent attempt to slice a corner 
li'om the town greatly irritated the good citizens of Ash- 
burnham. Four town meetings were called at an early date 
to oppose the movement. Samuel Wilder, Jacob Willard 
and John Adams were chosen to confer with the other towns 
and Joseph Jewett, Jacob Willard and John Adams were 
instructed to oppose the petitioners at the General Court. 

The residents of Ashburnham included in this movement 
were Joseph Gibbs, Joshua Billings, Reuben Rice, Jonathan 
Winchester, Thomas Gibson and Silas Whitney. The 
scheme was revived in 1815 when forty-two petitioned for a 
town to be called Vernon. The following year a new 
petition bearing ninety-eight names was. considered by the 
General Court and a public hearing was ordered. This 
time the petitioners suggested the name of Belvoir for the 
proposed town. Town meetings were promptly called and 



Elisha White, George E. Gushing and Joseph Jewett were 
selected to oppose the Vernon petition. The Belvoir 
petition was successfully resisted by Elisha White, Thomas 
Hobart and Abraham Lowe, and thus ended a contest which 
had been continued over thirty years. From beginning to 
end the arguments of the petitioners were the same and 
stated with little change of language. The last petition 
was as follows : 

The petition of the undersigned inhabitants of Fitchburg, West- 
minster, Ashburnham and Ashby humbly sheweth that whereas 
your petitioners are situated quite distant from the meeting-houses 
in the towns to which we respectively belong (especially in West- 
minster and Fitchburg, some in the former town living at the 
distance of seven miles from the meeting-house), and the land on 
which we live formed as if nature itself intended it for connection, 
and the interests of those living in the remaining parts of the towns, 
especially in Fitchburg and Westminster, being in many and most 
respects totally different from ours, it is therefore the prayer of 
your petitioners that the General Court would be pleased to incor- 
porate us into a distinct and separate town b^^ the name of 

But Vernon and Belvoir found little support on Beacon 
hill. The little town with euphonious titles, so clearly out- 
lined in the hopes and imagination of the petitioners, was 
destined to slumber in the gloom of defeat. Ashburnham 
was not only successful but recovered cost with the verdict. 
About this time the farms of John Ward and William Bar- 
rell and a considerable tract of non-resident land was severed 
from Westminster and annexed to this town. 

Only one attempt to secure a change of the boundaries of 
the town occurred after this date. In 1827 George Wilker 
and twelve others, residing in the eastern part of the town, 
petitioned the Legislature to annex to Ashby all the land in 



Asliburnliam lying east of a straight line extending from the 
northwest to the southwest corner of Ashby. Henry Adams, 
Charles Barrett and Hosea Stone were chosen to remonstrate 
in the name of the town. The following year the petition 
was renewed and the Legislature sent a committee to view 
the premises. The town chose Joseph Jewett, Charles 
Barrett and Stephen Marble to confer with the committee. 
The measure was defeated, at an adjourned session of the 
Legislature, 1828. 









Like the veins in the human system centring at the heart, 
the primitive roads of every town had a general tendency 
towards the meeting-house. It was not until the movement 
of surplus production gave additional employment to the 
roads that much attention was ])aid to any outward facilities. 
The early roads of Ashburnham were for the benefit of the 
settlers within the town. The only roads which offered any 
suggestions for the accommodation of the surrounding towns 
were built under the commands of the court and in opposition 
to the will of a majority of the inhabitants. These roads 
from the first were styled County roads, and to keep them 
in repair a separate tax was assessed and special surveyors 
were chosen. The family of Jeremiah Foster rode into town 
in a cart drawn by oxen. The chaise in which rode the wife 
of Rev. Mr. Gushing on her wedding journey from West- 
borough to her future home could proceed no farther than 
Fitchburg and the remainder of the way was performed on 
horseback. But a general knowledge of these early times 
will present a good idea of the first roads in this town. So 



far as any have been 1)etter or poorer than the average road 
of the time the fact will appear. If the number of roads in 
the early history of the town excites surprise, it should be 
remembered that every settler demanded one leading from 
his clearing^ to some existino^ road. With a reasonable 
estimate of those built within the independent grants previous 
to 1765, of which there is no record, it appears that no less 
than forty-five roads were laid out in this town previous to 
the Revolution. Many of these were only a continuation of 
an existing road or the substitution of a more feasible route, 
and in the mean time a considerable number were discon- 

While Ashburnham remained a part of the vast wilderness 
of unappropriated land, bounded on the south by Townsend, 
Lunenburg and Westminster, and on the east and west by 
the settlements in the valleys of the Merrimack and Connec- 
ticut rivers, the road from Lunenlnirg to Northlield was cut 
through the forest. The distance was foi-ty-two miles and it 
was constructed about 1733. John Fitch, in a petition to 
the General Court, states that in 1739 he settled on the 
Northlield road seven miles above Lunenburg. Mr. Fitch 
settled where Paul Gates now resides, in the southern part 
of Ashby. The petition establishes the location of the road 
at that point, and the account of the Cambridge and the 
Bellows or Bluefield grants in Chapter I. affords additional 
information in regard to its course through this town and 
the date of its construction. This ancient road entered Ash- 
burnham north of Russell hill and near the point where the 
new road from Rindge to Fitchburg crosses the Ashby line. 
It continued throuo^h Lexinoi:on farm and north of Mount 
Hunger and northwesterly through the Bluefield grant into 
the north part of Winchendon. When the proprietors of 
Dorchester Canada established the boundary lines and came 


into possession of the township, they found this road akeady 
opened and extending through their grant. 

In 1752 a road was proposed from a point now in Ashby 
" alonof to the southward of Watatuck hill to the Bluefield 
road so called." Other mention of the Bluefield road gives 
no additional information in regard to its location at any 
point in its course through this town. In its westward 
course through the northern part of Winchendon it was 
sometimes called the Earlington road, for the reason that the 
grant of land adjoining Northfield was frequently called 
Earlington, or more correctly Arlington, now Winchester, 
New Hampshire. The road was constructed by the Wil-^ 
lards, Bellows and Boyntons of Lunenburg to forward the 
settlement of that grant. The first road proposed b}^ the 
proprietors of Ipswich Canada was " from Earlington to the 
meeting-house lot," meaning from some point in the Earling- 
ton or Northfield road to the meeting-house lot. At the 
next meeting they offered six pounds " to such proprietor as 
shall cut a horse way from Earlington road to the meeting- 
house lot." These two votes are parcels of the same project. 
The magnificent suggestion in the History of Winchendon 
that the first vote contemplated a road from Northfield to 
Ipswich Canada is extravagant. In the first vote supply the 
omission of the word "road" after Earlington, then the two 
votes are consistent. In any other light the worthies of 
Winchendon are found buildino- a road from the meetino- 
house lot to Earlington and supplementing it with a road 
from the same point to the Earlington road. 

The records do not define the location of some of the 
earliest roads in this town, but a considerable sum of money 
was expended for this purpose during the infancy of the set- 
tlement. The first road, which can be definitely located ^ 
was between the saw-mill and " the place where the meeting- 


house is to stand as strait as the land will allow of." The 
first road of considerable length would naturally be some 
inlet from the lower towns. In 1742 a committee was 
chosen " to clear what is absolutely necessary in the eastern 
road already laid out and to see if a better road could be 
found out to Lunenburg." In 1743 " Edward Hartwell, 
Esq., and Mr. Andrew Wilder" were paid for marking out 
a road from the meeting-house to the west line. 

In 1753 increased sums of money were paid to committees 
and laborers on account of the roads, but without reference 
to their location. The same year appears an article ''' to see 
if it would be agreeable to the proprietors to have the great 
road leading to Ipswich Canada and Eoyalshire six rods 
wide, as it is likely to be the principal road to the upper 
western towns and Albany." However agreeable it might 
have been to secure a road of such ambitious proportions, 
the proprietors voted they would not do it, and it is possible 
Albany never heard of it. The truth is, the proprietors so 
long delayed the building of any suitable road to the line of 
Ipswich Canada, that soon after this date the aid of the 
court was invoked and a county road was built. In the 
midst of these proceedings, with a buoyancy of spirit that 
approaches audacity, the proprietors vote to perfect all the 
roads in the township. 

In 1758, and in succeeding years, with little change in the 
form of expression, an agent is chosen "to oversee those that 
shall be employed in working at the road, that they are 
faithful in their service and have no more allowed them than 
they deserve." In 1761 it was ordered "that the same com- 
mittee, that laid out the road from the meeting-house to Mr. 
Winter's, proceed to lay out said road till it comes to the 
road by Mr. James Colman's house, excepting where it 
goeth through Stoger's farm, so called." Stoger's farm is 


aDother name for Lexington grant or the Dutch farms. The 
proprietors were unable to tax the settlers on this or the 
other grants and were justly excused from building any roads 
through them. Andrew Winter lived near the west line of 
Lexington grant and James Coleman's house was near the 
Stacy mill in Ashby. In 1761 there was a division of the 
highway tax ; six pounds was expended on the county road, 
nine pounds in the south part and four and one-half pounds 
in the north part of the township. 

No sooner had the settlement assumed the dignit}^ of a 
town than the building and maintenance of the roads became 
familiar subjects of legislation. Within two years fourteen 
roads were laid out by the selectmen and accepted by the 
town. Others followed in rapid succession. While many 
of these original roads now constitute a part of the existing 
highways they have been so many times extended and 
amended that their identity is buried beneath the weight of 
continued record. The first road laid out by the selectmen 
was from a point now in Ashby to meet a road south of the 
Reservoir pond : 

June 27, 1765. We then Laid out a Road from Fitchburg Line 
through Bridge Farm and then the marks are on the West and 
South side of the Road to Stephen Ames'es. 

N. B. The above said Road Runs through Lexington Farm, 
so Caled. 

The bounds are generally stated in very indefinite terms, 
but a majority of them were said to end at the meeting-house 
or in some road leading to it which assists in locating very 
many of them. 

Laid out a road from Samuel Fellows Juner to the meeting 
House Running North Through Wetherbees Land and Williams 
Land and Stones Land and Turning Northerly on Stones Land 


and Dickersons Land and Sampsons Land and Oaks Land and 
Wheelers Land and Common Land till it comes to the publick 
meeting House, is two Rods wide and marked on the easterly side 
of said Road. 

The general course of the above road recorded in 1765 is 
stated, but like many others its location at intermediate 
points cannot now be determined. In some instances, like 
the following, the care of a road was assumed by the town 
without the intervention of the selectmen : . 

The town excepted Mr. Melvins Road, sd Road runs from 
Nathan Melvin's by Willi"' Benjamins and through Creehor's Lot 
and through Simeon Willards Lot & Oliver W^illards Lot, and 
through Mr. Whitemoor's Lot through Elisha Coolidge's Lot to 
Bluelield Road sd. Road is two Rod wide and marked on y^ 
Northerly side. 

The first county road was not a voluntary enterprise, and 
probably it was not maintained with any degree of enthu- 
siasm. In 1773 parties residing in adjoining towns secured 
its indictment. The town "chose Samuel Wilder, Esq., to 
make answer to the Court of General Sessions of the Peace 
to be holden at Worcester the last Tuesday of March instant 
to an Indictment found against the said Town by the grand 
Inquest for the body of said county, for not mending or 
keeping in repair the County road or King's Highway from 
Winchendon Town line to the meeting-house in Ashburn- 

The descriptive portion of the indictment affords some 
information of the condition of the road. The Court Records 
declare that it "was founderous, miry and rocky, encum- 
bered with great stones, deep mud, stumps and roots and 
destitute of necessary bridges whereby the travelling that is 
necessary in & through the same road is greatly impeded 


and his Majesty's Liege Subjects who have occasion and 
right to pass and repass in and through the same road by 
themselves and with their horses, teams & carriages cannot 
conveniently and safely pass in & over the same road but in 
so doing are in great danger of losing their own lives & the 
lives of their cattle & of breaking and destroying their 

Mr. Wilder, clothed with plenary power, went to Worces- 
ter to make answer to the court, but when he heard himself 
addressed in such terms it is impossible to imagine what he 
had to sa}^ To face a court breathing anathema and making 
such assault upon himself and his town required great cour- 
age and fortitude. Whether fear gave strength and courage 
to the ambassador or his utter discomforture appeased the 
temper of the court is uncertain. In any event the case was 
continued, and then the court, possibly in sorrow for an 
assault upon innocence, calmly reviewed the field and came 
to the conclusion that inasmuch as the road, meanwhile, had 
been repaired the town should be forgiven on the payment 
of five shillings and costs. 

In 1776 the maintenance of a new county road was added 
to existing burdens. For several years after this date a 
special surveyor was chosen for the " south county road." 
It extended from the centre of the town past the school- 
house in the first district, and thence, nearly by the present 
road, past the Joseph Harris' place to the Westminster line. 

Soon after the Revolution the project of a county road from 
Winchendon to Westminster, passing through the south- 
west corner of the town, was revived. With its usual 
alacrity in such cases, the town instructed the selectmen to 
oppose the road. The following year the incorporation of 
Gardner intervened and with other les^acies the town trans- 


ferred all responsibility in the premises to the young town. 


But Ashburnliam was scarcely relieved from one vexation 
concerning county roads before others of a more weighty 
character demanded attention. 

In 1790 a county road in amendment of the old thorough- 
fare from Winchendon Centre was proposed. An agent was 
sent to Worcester, but his efforts were attended with limited 
success. Three years later the petition was renewed, and 
Samuel Wilder, Abraham Lowe and Colonel Francis Lane 
were selected to continue an active opposition to the project. 
The town instructed their committee to measure all the 
county roads in the town and to ask the court if any 
additional burdens would be reasonable and just. Again, a 
delay was eftected, but the suspension of hostilities was only 
for a brief season. The petition was renewed in 1798. 
Samuel Wilder, on whom the town relied for council and 
service in every emergency, was dead. The town sent 
David Cushing, Joseph Jewett and Hezekiah Corey to the 
rescue, but without avail. The road was laid out and a 
majority of the town was greatly discomforted. Before the 
fate of this road, of which mention will be made again, was 
decided another of gi-eater proportions was proposed. The 
preliminary proceedings were brief. Before the town had 
fairly set its face against it, a county road was laid to com- 
plete a line of travel from Winchendon Centre to Leominster, 
passing through this town by the town farm and on sub- 
stantially the same route as the Fifth Turnpike was subse- 
quently built ; and, in fact, the county road influenced the 
location of the turnpike which was linally accepted in room 
of it. One of the advocates of this county road was Joseph 
Stone who lived on the farm later owned by the town. Li 
this proceeding Mr. Stone was strongly opposed by a large 
majority of his tow^nsmen and public sentiment upon this 
subject is reflected in the records. At first, the road was 


styled Captain Stone's road, but as the controversy grew 
warmer it was called Stone's road, and there is a tradition in 
this town that the popularity of Mr. Stone faded as rapidly 
as the fortunes of the road were advanced. 

After the road was laid the town selected Abraham Lowe, 
Joshua Smith and Joseph Jewett to draw up a remonstrance 
in support of an appeal to the General Court. The proposed 
construction of the turnpike offered the town some relief, and 
measures were introduced to influence the location of the 
turnpike in a manner that would lead the court to discontinue 
the original road. Ebenezer Munroe, Joseph Jewett and 
John Gates were chosen to confer with the directors of the 
turnpike, and upon hearing their report the town, 1802, 
" Voted to make the road from the foot of the hill below 
Abraham Foster's, so on to the county road by Oliver Sam- 
son's, at town expense on condition that Stone's road, 
so called, can be discontinued and the town be at no more 
cost or expense on or about said road. Also the town voted 
to put in one thousand dollars in the road on condition that it 
be made a turnpike road to run from Winchendon line by 
Nathaniel Foster's mill, so on to the foot of Abraham Foster's 
hill, so out by Oliver Samson's. Also voted to put in five 
hundred dollars on condition that they go with the road 
where they think best in the town. Stone's road, so called, 
to be discontinued and the town be at no further expense on 
account of Stone's road." 

The following year the town made a fourth proposition, 
offering the corporation $1500 if the turnpike was constructed 
over the old common. The corporation accepted the smallest 
sum oftered and reserved the ris^ht to "oo with the road 
where they think best in the town." The turnpike was 
built in 1805 and 1806 and the county road was discon- 


The town next directed attention to an amendment of the 
first county road which had been ordered by the court. To 
this date the travel from Winchendon was compelled to 
make the ascent of Meeting-house hill, and thence abruptly 
down into the valley as it proceeded to Fitchburg. A more 
feasible route had been debated for several years, but the 
town steadily refused to divert any travel from the old com- 
mon until the authority of the court had been invoked. A 
section of new road was now built, commencing at a point 
on the old road, one and one-half miles west of the old com- 
mon and meeting the road again in front of the present resi- 
dence of Seth P. Fairbanks. This road was built in 1817 at 
a cost of $1060. It was clearly a benefit to the public, but 
the dwellers around the old common, and many others, who 
shared with them a commendable regard for the centre of 
their town, its meeting-house, its cemetery, its pound and 
its aristocracy, were greatly discomforted. When this 
enterprise was completed it was the most thoroughly con- 
structed section of road in the town. The conditions 
required it " to be sixteen feet between the ditches, crowned 
eighteen inches in the centre and all stones to be removed 
that come within six inches of the surface." Before this 
road was completed measures were taken to secure the 
indictment of the road leading frpm the centre of the town 
to the guide-board near the house of Caleb Ward who then 
resided west of Lane Village and near Lower Naukeag lake. 
At a special town meeting some one proposed to repair the 
road by subscription and escape an indictment. Thirty days' 
labor were immediately pledged, and then the town com- 
placently directed that the labor be performed at once, 
and after that the complaint be defended by the town if 


Commencing' with the present century there was an era of 
tm-npikes. After the extreme depression in business, which 
was the natural consequence of the drain of the Revolu- 
tionary War, the country made substantial progress in 
wealth and development. A moderate accumulation of cap- 
ital began to seek channels of investment and every enter- 
prise which promised a fair return for the capital employed 
failed not for want of money or the encouragement and support 
of business men. Stimulated by an increasing travel and 
traffic to and from the centres of trade, turnpikes built and 
controlled by corporations were extended into every field of 
supply. Towns on the lines of these throroughfares were 
greatly benefited, and great efforts were made to influence 
their location. Taverns, stores and blacksmith shops were 
multiplied and many of them were mainly dependent on the 
patronage of these roads. 

An early line of travel from the north and west was from 
Keene through Jafi'rey and New Ipswich and thence to 
Boston by way of Townsend. It was incorporated in 1799, 
and built without delay. Another turnpike incorporated 1802 , 
from Keene through Winchendon and Leominster, passed by 
on the other side. This Levite came nearer and indeed was 
located through the southwest part of the town, but it was 
of little local benefit. It is now included in the town roads, 
and the houses of John M. Pratt, John V. Platts and 
Stephen Wood are on the line of it. The next turnpike in 
this vicinity came no nearer. It was incorporated in 1807 
and completed 1811. It was an important line of travel 
from Keene through Rindge, Ashby and Groton. This 
turnpike entered Ashburnham near the residence of Edwin 
J. Stearns, and the present road from that point, where there 
was a toll-gate, to the Ashby line at Watatic pond, marks 
its course through the corner of the town. While this turn- 


pike was patronized considerably by the inhabitants, it was 
of little benefit to the town. If Ashburnham was not highly 
favored by this era of turnpikes, the inhabitants generally 
escaped the losses which ultimately attended the deprecia- 
tion of stock. 

In other towns many men of comparative wealth were 
financially ruined, and the savings of the poor, which were 
allured by golden promises from the scanty accumulations 
of continued toil and many self-denials, were lost in the 
general ruin which ensued. If these early turnpikes were 
not successful from a financial standpoint they greatly 
encouraged the growth and development of the country, 
and by competition and example they did much to improve 
the general condition of the other roads. 

About the time of the decline of the turnpikes a large 
amount of money was expended in building and repairing 
roads. A new line of travel, in which this town had a lively 
interest, was opened through the valley of Miller's river and 
from Winchendon through the centre of Ashburnham to 
Fitchburg and the lower towns. For many years long lines 
of teams and a great amount of pleasure travel passed 
through the central village. Very many now living are 
fond of telling of the heavy wagons, drawn by four, six and 
eight horses, laden with produce for the market and return- 
ing with merchandise for the country stores, or of the four 
and six horse stages that daily passed each way. The 
scenes of life and activity that attended their arrival and 
departure and other features of those days are well remem- 
bered. The active landlord answered the demands of many 
guests, while the busy hostlers in the spacious barns grew 
weary in attendance upon the overflowing stalls. The 
hammer of the smith awoke the stillness of night and the fire 
in the forge scarcely burned out before the beginning of a 


new day. A much larger business to-day is done with one 
tithe of the noise and confusion of the olden time. Then, 
the newspapers, unaided by the telegraph and other modern 
facilities, gave little information of passing events. Items 
of intelligence were noisily communicated by word of mouth 
while bustling crowds around the taverns and the stores 
gathered the latest news from the passing traveller. Now, 
the current price of commodities and the records of the 
world are gleaned from the papers in the quiet retirement of 
home. Then, orders for goods and the general intercourse 
of trade were often verbal messages transmitted through 
many mouths. The message of to-day, silently committed 
to the mail, or to the swifter transmittal of the telegraph 
and the responding shipment of merchandise, left by the 
passing train, are in happy contrast with the noisy methods 
of the olden time. 

During the construction of the Fitchburg railroad from 
point to point, the teams and stages in that direction made 
shorter journeys, but the condition of affairs at this point was 
not materially changed ; but the building of the Vermont and 
Massachusetts and the Cheshire railroads which soon followed 
drove the stages and the teams from the road. 

The amount expended for the annual repair of the roads 
during the early history of the town conformed to the in- 
crease of population and secured highways that reasonably 
met the requirements of the times. The appropriation in 
1770 was £35 ; in 1773, £80 ; in 1790, £120 ; in 1800 the sum 
was increased to $900. For many years the town chose one 
and sometimes two surveyors for the county roads and com- 
mitted the town roads to the care of from two to ten persons, 
the number being gradually increased as the roads were 
extended and more thoroughly repaired. In 1818 the town 
was divided into twenty-one highway districts. The county 


roads and turnpikes, gradually losing their individual charac- 
ter, were included among the several districts. In 1845 the 
number of highway districts was increased to twenty-five, 
which, with slight changes, were continued until a recent 
date. From the first, and until the present system was 
adopted, a surveyor was annually chosen for each district. 
In 1832 and 1837 the town voted to raise one-half the usual 
amount in money, but before the tax was assessed the action 
was reconsidered and the former system of a labor tax was 
continued until a comparatively recent period. The amount 
annually expended for the repair of the highways was gradu- 
ally increased from $900 to $1500 ; the last sum was deemed 
sufficient until 1865, when $1800 was raised, and since that 
date the amount has ranged from $2500 to $4500. In 1870 
the town committed the care of the highways to the select- 
men and the following year a board of commissioners was 
established. The members are elected for three years. On 
this board Simeon Merritt has served eleven years ; Samuel 
Howard, nine years ; Jesse Parker, two years ; Stephen 
Wood, three years ; Frederic E. Willard, three years ; 
Charles H. Whitney, one year ; Robert W. Mclntire, six 
years ; Charles W. Whitney, 2d, five years ; Justin W. 
Bemis, one year. The three last named constitute the 
present board. 

Railroads. — The charter of the Vermont and Massachu- 
setts railroad, now operated by the Fitchburg railroad, is 
dated March 15, 1844, but the road was graded from Fitch- 
burg to South Ashburnham in the summer and autumn 
preceding and in anticipation of an act of incorporation. At 
this point there arose an animated contest over the continued 
location of the road. For two years it was an even question 
whether it would be extended through Gardner or through 
Winchendon. In this controversy the town of Ashburnham 



was an indifferent spectator, as in either event it would not 
materially change its course through this town. The busi- 
ness men early perceived that the route through Gardner, 
which was finally adopted, would accommodate this town as 
well as the other, and it would also leave an invitation to the 
Cheshire railroad, then in contemplation, to build from 
Winchendon through Ashburnham Centre to Fitchburg. 
For a season the town was so deeply engrossed with this 
project that little attention was paid to the controversy over 
the location of the first railroad that was built within the 
town. The causes and influences which controlled the loca- 
tion of both of these roads were wholly outside of Ash- 
burnham, and while a considerable portion of the town were 
disappointed neither of them approached the central village. 
Both of the roads have been of material benefit to the town. 
The Ashburnham Railroad lies wholl}^ within this town 
and materially contributes to the general prosperity of the 
place. It is young in years and limited in length, yet it has 
more history to the linear mile and in certain years of its 
duration has developed more stratagem than has attended the 
fortunes of many older and longer roads. The difficulties 
which surrounded its construction and early management are 
fortunately settled and only the exterior history of the road 
demands attention. In May, 1871, a charter was obtained 
for a line of railroad from the junction of the existing roads 
to the central village, a distance of about two miles. A com- 
mittee, consisting of George C. Winchester, Austin Whitney, 
William P. Ellis, Ohio Whitney and George H. Barrett, 
was immediately chosen to solicit subscriptions to the capital 
stock which, at this stage of the proceedings, was limited to 
one hundred thousand dollars. To aid and encourage the 
enterprise the town of Ashburnham, on a vote to invest ^ve 
per cent, of its valuation, purchased shares to the amount of 


forty -eight thousand dollars. Eleven thousand five hundred 
dollars was subscribed by three men residing in Fitchburg 
and in Boston and the remainder of the stock was taken by 
residents of this town. At the organization of the corpora- 
tion which promptly ensued, George C. Winchester, Ohio 
Whitney, Austin Whitney, Addison A. Walker of Ashburn- 
ham, Daniel Nevins, Jr., Hiram A. Blood and Otis T. 
Ruggles were chosen a board of directors. George C. 
Winchester was subsequently chosen president and Colonel 
George H. Barrett clerk and treasurer. 

The construction of the road was prosecuted with energy 
and without any unreasonable delay. About the first of 
January, 1874, the road was completed and a turn table and 
engine house were built at the northern terminus, but the 
depot was not erected until the following year. At the 
annual meeting in the summer of this year, the following 
board of directors was chosen : Austin Whitne}^ Addison A. 
Walker, Walter R. Adams, Simeon Merritt, Ohio Whitney, 
Daniel Nevins, Jr., and Thomas H. Clark. William P. 
Ellis was chosen clerk and treasurer and was continued in 
office until the corporation was dissolved. He was also 
station agent and to his care was confided the details of the 
operation of the road. In 1875 Mr. Nevins declined a 
reelection and the board was increased to nine members. 
The new members elected were George C. Winchester, 
Franklin Russell and George G. Rockwood. The only 
chano-e in the board of directors in 1876 was the election of 
Wilbur F. Whitney, in room of Austin Whitney. From 
1874 to 1877 the road was equipped and operated by the 
stockholders under the immediate management of the board 
of directors. In the adjustment of claims against the corpo- 
ration the debt was gradually increased and the earnings did 
not exceed the current expenses to an extent that afibrded 


any relief. The corporation issued mortgage bonds for 
twelve thousand dollars and at that time it was generally 
presumed that ultimately all the debts would be liquidated 
by the net earnings of the road. In 1877, and after the road 
had been in operation three years, George C. Winchester 
demanded payment of a claim of eleven thousand five 
hundred dollars for personal service. This demand was 
unanswered for a season with a spirit of resistance and a 
consciousness of inability to pay it. A final settlement was 
subsequently made, and in the summer of 1877, the franchise 
of the road and the rolling stock were conveyed to Mrs. 
Winchester and the corporation was dissolve(![. To this 
enterprise the town and the inhabitants of Ashburnham have 
contributed eighty-eight thousand five hundred dollars. 
The loss was serious to a few. Had the burden been more 
equally distributed, it is probable that in the general utility 
and convenience of the Ashburnham railroad, every one will 
find ample compensation for the loss sustained. Mrs. 
Winchester continued to own and operate the road in the 
interest of the public until 1885 when it was sold to the 
Fitchburg railroad corporation. 






THE STORES. — the first store. — the jewetts and their succes- 





Inns or taverns were numerous in the olden times, and a 
fictitious prominence is frequently assigned them. Around 
these ancient hostelries tradition is wont to linger and prone 
to crown them with a dignity they did not enjoy and to 
regard them with a peculiar charity especially reserved for 
the dead. In fact, a large majority of them were simply 
farm-houses in which the traveller was entertained. The 
proprietor was more a farmer than a landlord and the busi- 
ness was only supplementary to his stated avocation. And 
often in the pursuit of gain the license of the innholder was 
secured more for the sale of spirituous liquors than for a 
rational entertainment of man and beast. 

The first inn of this town, of which there is any record or 
tradition, was built upon the old Bluefield road extending 
from Lunenburg to Northfield. It was situated on the Bel- 
low's grant in the northwest part of this town, and was not 



occupied after 1744, when the settlement was abandoned. 
The Court Records represent that Moses Foster was a 
licensed innholder in 1751 and through several succeeding 
years. He lived at first in the northeast part of the town 
and at an early date removed to a lot adjoining, south of the 
common. His house after he removed was an inn, but it is 
uncertain at which place he was residing when first licensed. 
The next landlord who appeared on the scene was Nathan 
Dennis who lived at Lane Village and owned the mill. He 
was here only two years, 1753 and 1754. In 1756 Thomas 
Wheeler in the northeast part of the town was an innholder 
and was succeeded by James Coleman who was included 
within Ashby in 1765. For several years, commencing with 
1759, Elisha Coolidge was licensed. He probably resided 
in the house previously occupied by Nathan Dennis. In 
1767 Nathan Melvin who lived near the Amos Pierce place, 
in the eighth school district, received permission from the 
court to entertain the solitary traveller who might acciden- 
tally pass that way. Captain Deliverance Davis was a 
licensed innholder in 1767 but he did not continue in the 
business many years. Among the ancient hostelries in this 
town none were so popular as " Uncle Tim's." Tradition 
assigns no other name to the public house kept by Timothy 
Willard. He was probably the first landlord in this town 
who ever gave his undivided attention to the business and 
his house was known "from Canada to Boston." On his 
tables often were fresh pickerel which an hour before were 
sporting in the clear waters of Upper Naukeag. At this inn 
Dr. Lowe was entertained the first years of his residence in 
this town. The house was on the old road from Ashburn- 
ham to Winchendon, on the site of the residence of Mrs. 
David W. Russell. In 1798 David Russell, Sen., pur- 
chased the hotel and farm and continued the business. He 


procured a new sign on which w^as painted a profile of a 
chanticleer in the constant occupation of crowing over the 
fame of the place. In a few years, so fickle is fame, the 
name of "Uncle Tim" w^as heard no more. The inn was 
known as the " Cockerel Tavern." 

About the close of the century two hotels were opened on 
Main street, — one by Captain David Cushing, where Nahum 
Wood now lives, and one on the opposite side of the street, 
over which Joseph Jewett presided when not engaged in 
other pursuits. Commencing with about 1815, and con- 
tinuing with a waning patronage until about thirty years ago, 
there was a hotel on the north turnpike, and either the 
hotel or the locality was familiarly known as Children of the 
Woods. The travel on that once busy thoroughfare has 
been divei-ted into other channels and the old hotel has fallen 
with the weight of years. There was a hotel several years 
where the brick store now stands. It was built by John 
Adams, son of the centenarian, about 1826. Hobart F. 
Kibling and Merrick Whitney w^ere the landlords. In the 
same building there was a store which is mentioned in 
another connection. This hotel was built soon after the 
road from Winchendon to Fitchburg had been thoroughly 
repaired and many teams from Vermont and the valley of 
Miller's river passed through this town. The new hotel was 
successful and its prosperity led to the building of another 
on the opposite side of the street, now known as the Central 
House. The hotel last mentioned was built by Captain Silas 
Whitney in 1829, but it was not finished until 1832. It 
was called the Washington House and in front, leaving space 
for the passage of teams, there was a huge sign suspended 
between two posts. The sign bore a supposed likeness of 
George Washington w^ho proclaimed that he, at least, was a 
cold water man by having beneath him a huge watering- 


trough which occupied all the space between the posts. In 
this house, also, Hobart F. Kibling was the first landlord. 
He was succeeded by Samuel' Whitney and his sons who had 
acquired possession of the property. Later, the house was 
conducted by Stimson and Howe and by Knight and Forris- 
tall who were succeeded by Israel W. Knight, a son of one 
of the preceding landlords. Mr. Knight conducted the 
business many years and until his death, September 5, 1858. 
His son, James M. Knight, succeeded him, remaining in the 
business two or three years. Ferdinand Petts was the 
next landlord. The property was purchased by Walter R. 
Adams, 1866, who assumed the management of the business 
until 1879 when he was succeeded by John C. Stone. Mr. 
Stone has thoroughly repaired the buildings and built a block 
of stores on the site of the driveway. The appearance and 
convenience of the buildings are much improved and the 
house is well conducted. 

The Frye Tavern, more recently known as the Astor 
House, was a prosperous hotel fifty years ago. The land- 
lords were James Frye, Merrick Whitney, James Barrett, 
Grin Morton and Otis Metcalf. It has been owned many 
years by the Cheshire railroad and occupied by tenants. 

About the time the Frye Tavern was opened, Norman 
Stone had a hotel at Factory Village for several years. 
Public houses on the main lines of travel were numerous in 
those days and many at intermediate points between the 
villages were successful. 

Stores. — Until the close of the Ee volution there were no 
stores in Ashburnham. If any one returned from the centres 
of trade with goods, which were offered for sale, the business 
was not of sufficient magnitude or duration to secure the 
appellation of merchant or surround his abode with the 
dignity of a store. In the mean time the store in Lunen- 


burg was frequently visited, and upon an old ledger of 
Moses Whitney, who had a store in Eindge in 1772, are 
extended accounts with several residents of this town. It is 
probable, however, that, for many years, the greater part of 
the home supplies were procured in the lower towns in 
exchange for the product of the farm, or for shingles, split 
and shaved from the stately pines which were abundant at 
that time. 

Joseph Jewett, Esq., removed to this town in 1783, and 
immediately opened a store in his dwelling-house which 
stood at the corner of Main and Gushing streets. In a few 
years he built a store near by which remains to this time 
and is a part of the building owned and occupied by Charles 
Hastiness. Associated in trade with Mr. Jewett for one 
year, about 1790, was Samuel Appleton, the generous bene- 
factor of several educational and charitable institutions, and 
in later years General I vers Jewett was admitted to a part- 
nership with his father. The Jewetts were men of enter- 
prise, and succeeded in building up a prosperous business 
which was extended into the surrounding towns. They 
exchanged goods for every product of the farm, sending 
annually many tons of pork, butter, cheese, grain and wool 
to the seaboard. Ashes, too, with them, were an acceptable 
tender for goods from the store. These they converted into 
potash and forwarded it to the market. In later years they 
received yarns from the Slaters of Rhode Island and other 
manufactures of the time. At that time the power loom 
was a sleeping dream in the soul of invention. This yarn 
was distributed among the families who wove it in hand- 
looms, returning the cloth to the store and receiving their 
pay in goods. In this and many other ways these enter- 
prising merchants invited trade. They offered every facility 
for the payment of goods. They entered into close relations 


with the people of Ashburnham and many others in the 
adjoining towns. In accordance with a custom of the times 
they sold wines and liquors in quantity and by the glass. 
They supplemented their business with an inn, and mixed 
and vended grog from the ramparts of the store and the 
skirmish line of the hotel. They clothed the naked, fed the 
hungry, relieved the thirsty, and in their more substantial 
trade provided all against future want. The " Jewett Store" 
was an institution which suffered no rival and has witnessed 
no successor. 

Joseph Jewett retiring from an active interest in the busi- 
ness it was continued by General Ivers Jewett. For a short 
time Colonel Hosea Stone was associated with General 
Jewett, and in 1824 Samuel Woods, who had been a clerk 
in the store nine years, bought a half interest and the firm 
became known as Jewett and Woods. Soon after, the new 
firm bought a store and a cotton-mill in Fitchburg and sold 
the store in this town to Samuel Barrett. The Fitchburg 
enterprise was not successful. General Jewett, in this and 
other speculative transactions, met with less success than 
had attended his career as a merchant. In 1828 Samuel 
Woods bought the store of Mr. Barrett and returned to 
Ashburnham and in company with George H. Lowe he 
continued in trade until 1831. Samuel S. Stevens suc- 
ceeded Mr. Lowe, and soon after Jonathan O. Bancroft and 
Elbridge Stimson were admitted to the firm then known as 
Woods, Stevens & Co. In 1833 they sold to George H. 
Lowe who continued in trade until 1842. Mr. Lowe sold 
to Jacob Osgood of Weston, whose son, Charles, had an 
interest in the business. The Osgoods were succeeded in 
1851 by James Learned who was in business sixteen years 
when he sold the store and goods to Henry Vanness, who, 
with unrufiled placidity, fostered a waning trade until 1877, 


when the curtain fell. The fastened door and the boarded 
windows shut out the light of day but not the memory of 
many years. 

The second store in order of date, and the first in the 
elevation and dignity of its surroundings, was on the old 
common. Here Mrs. Gushing, assisted by her sons, con- 
ducted a small trade several years. The modest store was 
at the east of the common and was established about 1795. 
A few years later Deacon Heman Lincoln, on this site, 
erected a dwelling-house and enlarged the store. For a 
short time he conducted the business and was succeeded by 
Doddridge Gushing, who continued in trade several years, 
when the Jewetts purchased the goods and removed them to 
the foot of the hill. Subsequently, Leonard Stearns, from 
New Ipswich, was in trade a year or more, and later Gharles 
Hastings purchased the real estate, enlarged and repaired 
the buildino^s, bouo'ht new o^oods and continued in trade until 
1829. He sold to Lemuel Stimson, and in the spring of 
1830 the business was assumed by his sons, Elbridge and 
Mirick, who closed out in 1833, and since then no one has 
engaged in trade at this place. 

About the time the Jewetts withdrew from an active 
interest in trade three small stores were opened in this town. 
William Brooks in the house of his father, Thaddeus Brooks, 
in the ninth school district conducted a limited business 
several years ; and Reuben Rice, who lived in the fourth 
school district where Alfred D. Kinsman now resides, had a 
store in his house an equal length of time. Neither of these 
securing a monopoly of the trade, Asahel Gorey and Salmon 
Rice opened a store on Water street. Later Mr. Rice sold 
his interest to Levi Gorey. The Goreys were succeeded in 
1839 by Gharles Winchester, and it was in this store of 
modest pretension that Mr. Winchester outlined the first 



chapter of an active, successful career. Asahel and Levi 
Corey, having sold their business in Water street, opened a 
new store in the hotel building on the site of the brick store. 
After a few years they were succeeded by Philip R. Merriam 
who removed from a small store on the south turnpike. Mr. 
Merriam and his son were followed by Horace C. Crehore 
who continued in trade several years. 

In 1842 Charles Winchester sold the store he had out- 
grown on Water street and bought this store. Six years 
later he admitted his brother, George C. Winchester, to an 
equal partnership. They were eminently successful. For 
the accommodation of an increasing trade, and to provide 
accounting rooms for their other business they erected, in 
1855, the substantial ])uilding now occupied ]w Adams and 

The Brick Store, now of Adams & Greenwood. 
C. & G. C. Winchester, 1855. 

Erected by 

Greenwood. The firm was dissolved in 1870, and George 
C. Winchester continued the business until 1879. This 


store was reopened in 1881 by Adams and Greenwood, the 
partners being Walter R. Adams and Moses P. Greenwood. 
With a full line of miscellaneous goods, they at once secured 
an extensive trade and are reaping the fruit of merited 

The store now occupied by Parker Brothers was built by 
Ivers White in 1855, and leased to William P. Ellis for 
eight years. Mr. Ellis formed a partnership with Martin B. 
Lane, and under the name of Ellis and Lane they conducted 
a trade in stoves, tinware and groceries for several years. 
The firm was then dissolved by the retirement of Mr. Lane, 
who removed the stove and tinware department to the store 
in the Town Hall. Newton Hayden being admitted to a 
partnership with Mr. Ellis, the business was enlarged and 
included the wares usually displayed in a country store. In 
1866 Mr. Hayden became sole proprietor, and he was 
succeeded by several firms which included Hon. Ohio 
Whitney, Walter R. Adams, Moses P. Greenwood and 
Captain Walter O. Parker. In 1876 Captain Parker and 
his brother, Frank H. Parker, under the firm name of Parker 
Brothers, assumed the business. Under their judicious 
management, the demands of the community have been fully 
answered and a good trade has been firmly established. 

After the removal of Mr. Lane to the Town Hall, he was 
associated with Joel P. Marble, and in 1876 he was succeeded 
by Frank B. Gilson. The business was continued under the 
firm name of Marble and Gilson. In 1880 they built a new 
store on Central street and added a line of groceries to their 
former trade. They continue in the management of a pros- 
perous business. There were earlier dealers in stoves and 
tinware than any named in the preceding paragraphs. Ben- 
jamin Merriam was an early dealer in this line of ware in 
the old store on Water street, and Elliot Moore, for a few 


years, was in this line of trade in the George Rockwood 

George Eockwood opened a store about 1833, where 
Marshall Wetherbee now resides. He continued in trade 
several years and a part of the time Dr. William H. Cutler 
had an interest in the business. He was succeeded by the 
Union Store, which was continued four years, and later Elliot 
Moore continued the business a few years. 

After Asahel Corey had been in trade on Water street and 
in the hotel building on the south side of the street, he built 
in 1846 a store on the site of the residence of George C. 
Winchester. In this building his son, Jonas Corey, opened 
a store and was succeeded immediately by George Rock- 
wood and Austin Whitney. Then the firm of Corey, Barrett 
and Kibling, comprising Jonas Corey, Colonel Francis J. 
Barrett and Joseph W. Kibling, was actively engaged in 
trade at this place for a few years. They were succeeded 
by Austin Whitney, and while his brother, Samuel V. 
Whitney, was postmaster, the post-office was located here. 
The building was purchased by George C. Winchester in 
1856 and remodelled soon after. 

George W. Kibling, who lived in Lane Village, where 
Merrick Hadley now resides, had a store in his house a few 
years, commencing about 1835. There was no other store 
in this village until Mirick Stimson began trade in 1868. 
Mr. Stimson has continued without interruption to the 
present time. In North Ashburnham, Asa R. Lovell was in 
trade about three years, commencing in the autumn of 1845. 
The goods were owned by several gentlemen who lived in 
that vicinity, and who sustained the store as a local enter- 
prise. The goods were subsequently sold at auction. 
Except the trade in groceries conducted by Daniels Ellis, 
there have been no other stores in this village. 


Stores in the village of South Ashburnham have been 
numerous. In 1822 Jonas Munroe opened a store and con- 
tinued in trade several years. The building occupied by 
Mr. Munroe was later the ell of the Deacon Glazier shop. 
Mr. Benjamin E. Wetherbee, the present owner of the 
premises, tore it down a year ago and completed its history. 
Hosea Hosley, in 1836, began trade in a building still known 
as the red store, opposite the residence of Hezekiah 
Matthews. After a vacancy of several years, the next 
trader in this store was Lewis G. Matthews, who, with a 
line of groceries and patent medicines, began business in 
1852, and continued until 1874. Oliver A. Eaymond, in 
the autumn of 1846, began business under favorable 
auspices in the May store. He died the following year and 
the goods were sold out by his brother. The Protective 
Union Store was opened in the May building in 1848. 
Stores established on this plan were found at this date in 
almost every village. Generally conducted b}^ men un- 
skilled in the arts of trade, very few of them were successful. 
This proved no exception, and was closed before the expira- 
tion of a year. The May store, which, like the temple of 
Janus, has been sometimes open and sometimes closed, was 
occupied a year and a half, commencing August, 1863, by 
John B. Day, who displayed a line of dry goods and 
groceries. In 1868 Mr. Day resumed business in the same 
building. The following year he was succeeded by Stephen 
Y. Ware, who remained two years and again the doors were 
closed. The next occupant was Luther Osborn, who con- 
tinued about three years, and from that time until 1876, the 
store was unoccupied. In the autumn of that year Stephen 
V. Ware resumed trade with a line of dry goods and gro- 
ceries. In March, 1884, he sold to John Davis, who moved 
the followino: summer into the store under Union Hall where 


he was recently succeeded by Alfred E. Garlick and James 
H. Long, who have built up a prosperous trade. 

More to accommodate his employes than to solicit a 
general trade, Edward S. Flint dealt in staple groceries, 
about nineteen years, commencing 1857. In 1866 Mrs. 
Mary Blodget fitted a room in her dwelling for the accom- 
modation of a limited stock of ladies' furnishing goods. 
The business was successfully continued eight years. Near 
the depots, Sumner H. Upham, Francis Eaton, Sewell S. 
Lane and Stephen Y. Ware have each been in trade a short 











The genius of Ashburnham shines forth most conspicu- 
ously in a variety of manufactures. In the employment of 
^capital and in the daily toil of a large number of artisans and 
mechanics, the town maintains a commanding position. The 
frequent seats of power along the courses of the brooks and 
rivers have invited the people from the cultivation of a rugged 
soil to mechanical pursuits. The number of mills, past and 
present, in this town is unusually large. There are fifty 
mill sites in this town where at some time the water power 
has been utilized. These enterprises have offered employ- 
ment to the mechanic and have aus^mented the wealth of the 
town. If the first mills were rude afiairs they were neces- 
sary to the progress of the settlement, and in their weakness 
was found a living suggestion of improvement. If brought 
into comparison with modern mills and modern machinery, 
the primitive saw-mill, with rheumatic movements laboring 

26 401 


slowly through a log, grunting, meanwhile, as if in pain, 
presents a vivid picture of the progress and triumph of 
mechanical skill. No effort is made to name every mill that 
has been erected in this town. Many of them in the whole 
extent of an uneven existence have not materially increased 
the product of the town nor stimulated its energies. Among 
this class are included several saw-mills upon the smaller 
streams that, at best, were employed but a small portion of 
each year and were early suffered to present a picture of 
dilapidated old age. 

The modern industries have been more fortunate and are 
the life and activity of the town. The first mill in this town 
was built at Lane Village in 1737. This mill, erected by 
Hezekiah Gates, during the municipal administration of the 
proprietors of Dorchester Canada, and in itself a conspicuous 
figure in the record of the settlement of the town, was men- 
tioned in a previous chapter. In the same connection was 
given an account of the second mill which was built in 1752 
and near the site of the first mill. 

The third mill, within the limits of the original township, 
was also built at an early date. The proprietors located the 
first and second mills, over which they assumed a nominal 
control, as near the centre of the town as the conditions 
would permit. The numerous settlers within and north of 
the Dutch Farms were far removed from the only mills in 
the township and caused one to be built in their vicinity 
previous to 1758. It was owned at that time by Moses 
Foster, Jr., and Zimri Hey wood, and was situated near the 
outlet of Watatic pond. The site of this mill is now in 
Ashby and was a part of the substantial contributions of 
Ashburnham when that town was incorporated. Previous 
to the Ke volution, a saw and grist mill was built at the out- 
let of Rice pond near the site of the reservoir dam. In the 



first division of lots, the eighth lot was one of the ministerial 
lots and subsequently was under the control of the town. It 
included the mill privilege and extended southerly. In 1772, 
for eighteen dollars, the town sold the north part of the lot 
to Ebenezer Conant, Jr., for a mill site, and for some reason 
subsequently refunded the money. Mr. Conant, however, 
built the mill and in 1778 a road was laid from near the 
village "passing over the mill-dam of Ebenezer Conant, Jr., 
and between said Conant's house and barn and through lots 
seven and eight, until it strikes the old road." At the age 
of forty years, Mr. Conant died August 3, 1783. The mill 
was afterwards owned by Jonas Randall, Jonathan Brooks 
and others. About seventy years ago it was removed to 
Water street. 

Philip Oberlock, who assumed the name of Locke, owned 
a saw-mill at an early date in the south part of the town. 
It was situated near the shop of Reuben Puffer. In 1778 
Mr. Locke sold the mill to Daniel Gibbs who owned it 
several years. The early proprietors of the mill property, 
now owned by Elijah Gross and Son, were Simeon Brooks, 
Caleb Wilder and Jason Mead. In 1816 it was purchased 
by Peeks Gross. The mill was burned in 1844 and rebuilt 
the following year. For many years there has been a saw 
and grain mill at this site. The present proprietors have 
ground and sold a large quantity of western corn. At 
times a portion of this mill has been occupied by tenants. 
Chairs have been made here by Liberty Holt, Charles But- 
trick, James Blodget, Ira Brooks and Irving E. Platts. 
Samuel J. Tenney, William Tenney and Henry Lawrence 
have manufactured tubs and pails, and John Davis has pre- 
pared excelsior at this mill. 

Ezra Dana removed to this town about 1790. He did not 
remain here many years, but he found employment in build- 


ing the first mill on the river at Barrage ville. The ancient 
dam and also the evidence of the sudden flood which occurred 
under his administration still remain. To irrigate a field of 
corn sufiering from a drought, he cut a small channel through 
the banks enclosing his mill-pond. The treachery of a sandy 
soil suddenly drained the pond and ruined the corn. No 
subsequent trace of Dana is found, yet it is more probable 
that he removed from town than that he was washed away in 
the sudden current. The second mill in Lane Village, which 
was built by Caleb Dana and Elisha Coolidge, was removed 
by Colonel Francis Lane. In 1786 he built a new mill 
where the upper mill of Packard Brothers now stands. In 
1805 he enlarged the building and continued to maintain a 
saw-mill and a grist-mill until 1822, when he sold the 
property to John Kibling, and four years later it was pur- 
chased by Samuel Foster, who sold it to Enos Emory in 
1833. In 1846 Francis Lane, Jr., and his sons became the 
proprietors, and in 1854 the buildings were renewed. Mil- 
ton Lane, who had acquired possession, sold it to C. and G. 
C. Winchester about twenty years ago. Charles F. and 
Albert D. Packard, the present owners, bought it in 1881. 

About forty rods below Packard Brothers' upper mill is 
an unoccupied mill site. Here Francis Kibling built a mill 
in 1832. Dr. Stillman Gibson of New Ipswich subsequently 
owned it until it was removed about thirty years ago. It 
was occupied as a saw-mill and shingle-mill. On the same 
stream near Packard Brothers' lower mill is the ancient 
Gates dam, and near by are found traces of the dam where 
Francis Lane, Jr., built a saw-mill and turning shop in 1833. 
In 1846 it was purchased by Enos Emory, and was burned 
about twenty years ago. The lower mill of Packard 
Brothers was built by Elias Lane for a turning shop in 1822. 
It was sold to Eaton and Harris in 1855, who occupied it 


about seven years. Passing through several owners it was 
bought by Packard Brothers in 1874. 

If the power of the stream in North Ashburnham was not 
occupied as early as at Lane Village, forty years ago it was 
quite thoroughly utilized. There are four mill sites within a 
short distance and all of them at times have been quite fully 
employed. The lower one was built and occupied many years 
by Alvin Ward. It was burned in 1860. The second mill 
in order of location was owned, and is said to have been built 
by Moses and Ezra Lawrence. The next owner was Daniels 
Ellis who held it several years. It was subsequently owned 
by W. L. G. Ward, and later by Isaac D. Ward. The 
present owner is Joseph H. Small. The unoccupied mill 
was built by Deacon John C. and Joseph Davis in the 
autumn of 1826. It is owned by Isaac D. Ward. The first 
mill on the fourth privilege was built by Alonzo L. Willard 
about 1842, and has been occupied in the manufacture of a 
variety of wares. The successive owners were John Bald- 
win and Daniels Ellis, Jr. Mr. Ellis removed the original 
and built the present mill about 1863. He sold it when 
completed to LaRoy A. Butler. Isaac D. Ward now owns 

The first mill on the stream flowing from Rindge, in the 
order of location, was built by Eliphalet Eddy about fifty 
years ago. About 1845 he was succeeded by Corey, 
Barrett and Kibling, and later by Jonas Corey. It is now 
owned and occupied by Robert W. Mclntire. Daniels Ellis, 
Jr., built the next mill on this stream nearly forty years ago. 
Edwin Hay ward has owned it about ten years. The next 
mill was built by Daniels Ellis, Jr., and was owned several 
years by Mr. Ellis and Horace W. Houston and later by Mr. 
Houston. The dam was destroyed by the freshet in the 
autumn of 1869. Three mills have been erected on the 


Whitmore and Jones privilege, and are mentioned in another 
paragraph. The first mill on the privilege of Leonard 
Foster was built about the commencement of the present 
century. It was owned many years by Nathaniel Foster 
who died in 1826. After a few years it came into the pos- 
session of Thomas Bennett, and for many years has been 
owned by Leonard Foster, who built the present mill about 
1850. A large quantity of lumber has been sawed at this 
mill. Two mills have been burned on this site. 

The saw-mill at Burrageville was built and owned many 
years by George L. Beals and later it was a part of the 
property of the Burrage Brothers. Later, J. H. and E. L. 
Hodge owned it several years, and manufactured chairs as 
well as coarse lumber. For seventeen years it has been 
owned by C. L. Beals and occupied by Greorge L. Beals, Jr. 
There have been several saw-mills in the central village, 
but generally they have been connected with manufacturing 
establishments and are incidentally mentioned in such con- 
nection. A saw-mill was built in 1835, on the site of the 
chair factory of Wilbur F. Whitney, by Joshua B. Burgess. 
A few years later Mr. Burgess sold it to Europe H. Fair- 
banks and Colonel Ivers Phillips, who annually sawed a large 
quantity of lumber. The subsequent owners were Bailey, 
Spaulding and Sherwin, who sold it about 1862 to Charles 
and George C. Winchester. The dam was destroyed by the 
freshet in 1869 and was not rebuilt until 1882, when Mr. 
Whitney purchased the premises. On the North Turnpike 
there have been two saw-mills and one is still standing. 
They possessed all the requirements for business except 
water. Failing in this essential requisite they were in 
operation only a small portion of the time. 

Samuel Dunster removed from Mason, New Hampshire, 
to this town, in 1801, and here found employment for many 


years in building, selling and exchanging mills. First, he 
built a saw-mill and grain-mill at Factory Village, which he 
sold to Benjamin Gibbs about 1816 and then removed to the 
central village, where in 1817 he built a grain-mill on the 
site of the mill of Colonel George H. Barrett and soon after 
he became interested in other manufacturing enterprises 
which are mentioned in another connection. Mr. Dunster 
removed to Factory Village in 1830 and bought the mill of 
Mr. Gibbs which he continued to own until his death. For 
many years it was under the care of Elijah and Joel Brooks 
and at last it was washed away by the freshet. The grain- 
mill on Mill street has been owned by many individuals and 
firms. Among them are included Josiah Lane, the Cald- 
wells, Piam Burr, Colonel Charles Barrett, Mirick Stimson, 
Charles and George C. Winchester, John Hadley, Moses P. 
and Theodore Greenwood. The present owner. Colonel 
George H. Barrett, has conducted an extensive business in 
grinding western corn and in the sale of grain . The present 
saw-mill and grain-mill at Factory Village was built by 
Ebenezer Frost in 1855. Mr. Frost sold it in 1866 to 
Cyrus A. Jefts, Theodore Greenwood and Frank W. Wal- 
lace, but the firm was soon succeeded by Mr. Jefts, who is 
in possession at the present time. The lower mill of Warren 
E. Marble was built by Jacob Whiteman about 1825. The 
saw-mill was built by his father, Luke Marble, in 1863. On 
this stream and at an early date there were two other mills. 
The first one was built by Henry Hall, a son of the emigrant, 
immediately after the Revolution. It stood between the 
two mills of Mr. Marble. After several years, Mr. Hall 
removed his mill to the outlet of Watatic pond and near his 
residence. It was not kept in repair many years and no 
other mill has been erected on the same site. The other 
mill on the stream falling into Ward pond was built by 


Nicholas Whiteman and was subsequently owned by his son 
Jacob Whiteman. It was burned about 1820. During the 
past twenty years, Luke Marble and his sons have manufact- 
ured a considerable quantity of lumber and chair stock. 

Chairs. — The monkey for ages has sat upon the ground. 
In this way he enjoys his rest and consumes his leisure hours 
in the contemplation of the simplest philosophies. Assunaing 
that the Darwinian theory is correct, there is ample evidence 
for the conclusion that the progressive development of man 
and the stages of his civilization and enlightenment have 
been marked by his use of seats, and by the genius displayed 
in their design and construction. The chairs of the present, 
in grace of outline, and in a practical adaptability to the use 
for which they are designed, are a sure exponent of the prog- 
ress of the times in the art of mechanism. In this manu- 
facture, both in the number and the value of the annual 
product, Ashburnham yields the palm to Gardner and 
surveys the remaining field without a peer. In the early 
manufacture of chair stock in this town the conditions re- 
quired only a small room in some part of the dwelling-house, 
a saw, a frow and a shave, while a foot-lathe introduced the 
owner to the front rank among the chair makers of that 
period. The terms of admission to the business were so 
simple and the outlay of money so small that the number 
who supplemented their other employment with the manu- 
facture of chairs or chair stock, was only exceeded by the 
tax list. To make an entire chair was an early ambition of 
Ashburnham, while to turn a good chair leg was only the 
simplest inspiration of intuition. Ask the aged man of Ash- 
burnham who were Revolutionary soldiers, and beginning 
with his father and his uncles he slowly names a few. Ask 
him who were early Federalists or Orthodox or Methodists 
and his memory fails. But ask him who were chair makers 



when he was young and instantly his eye brightens with the 
light of returning memories. He becomes loquacious. He 
counts the names of all he knew, traversing his finger-tips 
over and over again, and if in the pauses of enumeration the 
reckless instigator of the proceedings essays to retire, he 
calls him back and names every son of these chair-making 

If not the first to engage in this business, certainly among 
those who early made the manufacture of chairs an occupa- 
tion, was John Eaton, a native of Lancaster, who removed 
to this town in 1805 from Ashby, where he had learned his 
trade. Here he remained four years when he removed to 
Eoyalston. It is said that Enos Jones persuaded Mr. Eaton 
to locate in Ashburnham, and that he agreed to purchase a 
stipulated number of chairs. Some of the daughters of Mr. 
Jones were recently married and others were seriously con- 
templating a similar event, and in order that he might add a 
certain number of chairs to the marriage outfit of his daugh- 
ters, he engaged the services of Mr. Eaton who not only 
answered the demands of his employer but supplied the 
wants of other families in the neighborhood. While thus 
engaged, and possibly to stimulate his business by creating 
a new demand for his wares, Mr. Eaton married the youngest 
daughter of his patron. For several years, commencing 
about 1820, Charles and Deacon John C. Davis, at Nortk 
Ashburnham, and Charles Munroe at South Ashburnham, 
were actively engaged in this business. In the course of a 
few years water power was employed in turning stock and 
Joshua Burgess, Deacon John C. Glazier, Alvin Ward and, 
probably, others were engaged in some branches of the 
business. These pioneers were soon joined by John Conn, 
Harvey M. Bancroft, Lyman Conant, Thomas E. Glazier, 
Moses Ross, James Blodget, Joseph Rice, Josiah Eaton,, 


Jesse Ellis, Sumner May, Hezekiah Matthews, Samuel S. 
Stevens, and many others. A feature of the business at this 
time was the sale of turned stock in the lower towns and, in 
fact, many persons named conducted no other business, and 
few of them were engaofed in the manufacture of finished 

In 1833 Philip R. Merriam began the manufacture of 
chairs where the extensive factories of the Boston Chair 
Manufacturing Company now stand. He was also engaged 
in teaming chairs to Boston and other places and hauling 
freight of all description. From the little mill and small 
beginning of Mr. Merriam has been developed an industry 
which has added fame and wealth to this town. To this 
date the development of the business had been slow and un- 
productive of s\ibstantial results. Even in sanguine dreams 
the possibilities of the future had never been suggested. 
Upon the clumsy methods and tedious processes of the early 
days the genius which has attended the later years had shed 
no light. Yet, if slow, the early growth was solid. The 
foundations were laid in patient toil and upon them the 
modern structure has been safely reared and supported. At 
this date, and in a field inviting conquest, Charles and George 
C. Winchester began an intelligent study of the business. 
Charles Winchester bought the shop of Philip R. Merriam 
and, subsequently, joined in the enterprise by the younger 
brother, an important business was soon established. In the 
ardor of sanguine temperaments, and the hope and courage 
of young men, they quickly comprehended a measure, at 
least, of its future possibilities. At once, rebels against 
antiquated methods and patrons of every approved innova- 
tion, they increased the capacity of their works as rapidly as 
the profits of the business would permit. With unwearied 
application they directed their energies to the accomplish- 


meDt of a defined purpose until the images of their early 
dreams became material forms. With them in their active 
days every success was an incentive to renewed conquest. 
They held every point for which they had contended and 
fought their way to the foremost rank. To these men the 
town of Ashburnham is indebted. If the Winchesters have 
retired from an active participation in the business the fact 
remains, that it was fostered by them and that it was the 
force of their genius and energy which ably assisted in 
assigning to Ashburnham an important position among the 
manufacturing towns of the Commonwealth. The facts are 
not at hand nor is it possible to state the details of the 
growth and magnitude of the business, while under the 
direction of the Winchesters. They were building and 
enlarging continually. The record of advancement enlivens 
the transactions of every year. A few of the dates and a 
summary of the results are briefly stated. 

In 1842 the small sliop and the business of Mr. Merriam 
was purchased by Charles Winchester ; in 1848 George C. 
Winchester was admitted to an equal interest in the business. 
The mills, from time to time, were enlarged to nearly their 
present capacity and chairs of their manufacture of every 
style and design were found in every domestic and foreign 
market. They purchased and erected many tenement 
houses, and many mills in the surrounding towns were under 
their control. At the dissolution of the firm in 1870, the 
number of men employed in the manufacture of chairs was 
about two hundred and at times this number was considerably 
exceeded. From 1870 to 1878 the business was continued 
by George C. Winchester. At the first he assumed the 
burdens and conducted the enterprise with his accustomed 
energy, and the volume of the business for several years was 
fully sustained, but it gradually became apparent that his 


brain was overworked and his native forces were failing him. 
After a few years of partial, and finally of entire, suspension 
of business, the property was purchased in 1880 by several 
individuals who organized a stock company. 

The value of the plant, exclusive of stock and personal 
property, is $75,000. The capital stock is $150,000. In 
the manufacture of chairs the corporation owns and occupies 
thirty-four buildings, having a total flooring of 300,000 feet 
or about seven acres. The main factory is of wood, four 
stories, and ground dimensions of 160 by 48 feet; the saw- 
mill is brick, two stories, 100 by 50 feet ; the main paint 
shop of wood, four stories, is 160 by 40 feet. The works 
are driven by an engine of 200-horse power and the river 
rated at 35-horse power is fully utilized. The accompanying 
illustration faithfully represents the number and the relative 
location of the buildings. The number of men now em- 
ployed is 200, beside 100 inmates of the Hampden County 
House of Correction and as many women and children in this 
vicinity who are engaged in filling cane chairs. The present 
annual product is 360,000 chairs, which yield an income 
from sales of $200,000. The facilities will accommodate an 
annual business of $400,000 and arrangements are maturing 
to employ every resource at command. With one, and 
possibly two exceptions, this is the most extensive chair 
manufactory in New England. In addition to the manufact- 
ure of the standard lines, and following a series of success- 
ful experiments, this company is now making chairs com- 
posed in part, and in some patterns wholly, of bent material. 
With ingenious appliances the wood is shaped into graceful 
forms and swiftly directed into circles and all manner of 
curves. These chairs of many patterns, presenting no right 
lines or angles, are graceful and attractive in outline, and are 
admitted to be superior in strength and general appearance 











to the foreign chair from which they have been copied. The 
process of this manufacture originated in Austria, and skilled 
mechanics from that country were here employed in perfect- 
ing the required machinery and patterns. The present facili- 
ties will produce 30,000 chairs of this kind annually and in 
the markets there is an increasing demand. W. G. Wheil- 
don, whose office is in Boston, has been treasurer of the 
company from the date of its incorporation. Luther B. 
Adams was the manager until 1885 when he was succeeded 
by F. S. Coolidge. 

Prominent among the chair manufactories of this town and 
in this vicinity are the extensive factories of Wilbur F. 
Whitney at Ashburnham Junction. Mr. Whitney has been 
schooled in the business from boyhood. He is in the prime 
and strength of life, yet within his experience all the modern 
machinery in general use has been tested and approved. In 
mechanical skill, in a. prompt and clear comprehension of 
the growing demands of the trade and in the adoption of 
new methods to meet the changing requirements of the 
business, he has advanced to a prominent position among 
the manufacturers of the present time. The business was 
originally established by his father, John Whitney, in West- 
minster nearly sixty years ago. In 1865 Mr. Whitney 
purchased an interest in the Glazier mill in South Ashburn- 
ham where he was engaged in active business three years. 
In 1868 he sold his interest in the Glazier mill and bought a 
mill of Merriam and Allen, situated one-fourth mile east from 
the depot. Here he remained fourteen years and was suc- 
cessful. A part of the time he was in partnership with 
Irving E. Platts. Sustaining and constantly enlarging his 
operations with the profits of the business and with the 
erection of a new building, he increased the capacity of his 
works until he gave employment to eighty men and manu- 


factured chairs to the amount of $150,000 annually. In 
March, 1882, the factory was burned. The loss above in- 
surance was heavy. To build again was an early and for the 
town a fortunate resolve. Mr. Whitney purchased a site 
near the depot and immediately erected a factory of three 
and one-half stories, 136 by 40 feet, and a paint shop 100 
by 30 feet. The chairs made in these works are the modern 
styles of cane-seat chairs. The wood material includes all 
varieties of native hard wood and black walnut, which is 
procured in the West. Having built a new mill for its 
accommodation, 60 by 40 feet, and three stories above the 
basement, he supplemented his business in 1884 with the 
manufacture of rattan chairs. In 1886 this factory was 
enlarged by the addition of fifty feet, and it is now 110 by 
40 feet, with a flooring of 17,600 feet. At the present time 
Mr. Whitney employs 140 men. His manufacture yields an 
annual product of $175,000. The full capacity of his 
factories at prevailing prices is about $250,000. The rattan, 
from which the cane for chairs is taken, is a product of 
Sumatra and the adjacent islands. The improved machinery 
employed by Mr. Whitney in splitting and shaving the 
material was made under the patents and is operated under 
the immediate supervision of George W. Lombard. 

Orange Whitney, who occupies the Burgess mills, gives 
employment to thirty men and manufactures chairs to the 
amount of $50,000 annually. Since 1881 he has resided in 
Winchendon. The first mill on this site in which there was 
a saw-mill and a grist-mill was built by Joshua B. Burgess 
in 1844. The building was burned in 1850 and immediately 
rebuilt. Mr. Burgess was also engaged in the manufacture 
of chairs. In 1856 he was succeeded by Edward S. Flint, 
Jonathan H. Piper and James Blodget under the firm of 
Flint, Piper and Blodget. In 1861 Mr. Flint became 



proprietor of the business which he continued alone and with 
partners until 1873. Abner White succeeded Mr. Flint and 
continued the manufacture until 1878. At this time Benja- 
min E. Wetherbee purchased the property and leased it to 
Mr. Whitney. 

Irving E. Platts has been actively engaged in this manu- 
facture several years. He occupies the Glazier mill and 
usually employs about fifteen men. There has been a mill 
upon this site many years. In 1824 Deacon John C. Glazier 
bought the premises of Charles Munroe and after his death 
in 1861, the property had several owners and was purchased 
by Benjamin E. Wetherbee in 1868. The new mill, on the 
opposite side of the highway, was built in 1872. It is 
occupied by Mr. Wetherbee in the manufacture of bent 
chair stock. He gives employment to several men. 
Another chair shop in South Ashburnham was built in 1856 
by Sumner and Charles S. May. They were engaged in the 
business until recently when the premises were leased to B. 
Duane & Co., the partners being Bernard Duane and Orange 
Whitney who manufacture towel racks and cradles. 

From about 1837 to 1848 chairs were manufactured on the 
site of the Naukeag Cotton Factory by several individuals 
and firms, including James Osgood, Samuel S. Stevens and 
Alvin Kendall. From thirty to forty years ago, for some 
reason, nearly every merchant in the central village was 
also a manufacturer of chairs, and while Corey, Barrett and 
Kibling were selling staple goods at their store they were 
making: chairs in a mill which stood on the site of the 
morocco shop. 

Burrageville, once the scene of a promising and active 
enterprise, was founded by chair makers. George S. Bur- 
rage, then of Leominster, about 1848, bought of George L. 
Beals a saw-mill, dwelling-house and a large tract of timber 


land. The price paid was thirteen thousand dollars. The 
saw-mill was burned about that time and rebuilt in its 
present form and chairs were made in the upper story. The 
company, including George S., William F. and Charles W. 
Burrage, was formed, and under the firm name of Burrage 
Brothers they built in 1853 the paint shop, 40 by 80 feet, 
which still remains, and the following year a chair factory, 
40 by 100 feet, was erected on the stream above the saw- 
mill. For a number of years the firm was actively engaged 
in the manufacture of chairs and gave employment to a large 
number of men. In the mean time they built several 
tenement houses and were conducting a store in another 
building which they erected. In the midst of these scenes 
of activity and promise, in 1858 the chair factory was burned 
and the enterprise was crippled beyond recovery. William 
F. Burrage retired from the firm in 1857 and returned to 
Leominster where he died November 11, 1873. Charles W. 
Burrage sold his interest to his brother, George S. Burrage, 
who again became sole owner of the premises in 1859. The 
younger brother, Charles, completed his studies, which had 
been interrupted by the allurements of business, and gradu- 
ated at Yale College 1861, and since that date he has resided 
in Portland, Oregon. George S. Burrage removed to 
California where he died May 16, 1876. While residents 
of this town they were useful and prominent citizens and 
occupied many positions of trust. 

From about 1864 to 1868 a limited business was con- 
ducted in the saw-mill by J. H. and E. L. Hodge who came 
from Templeton. The property was purchased by Charles 
L. Beals of Winchendon in 1869, and is occupied by 
George L. Beals, Jr. 

Tubs and Pails were made in this town a few years, 
beginning about 1825, by Joshua Townsend. His shop was 


on Mill street. The quantity made at this early date did 
not materially exceed the demands of a limited market. In 

1839 Oliver G. Caldwell and Elbrido^e Stimson bes^an the 
manufacture on a more extensive scale, which, under succes- 
sive firms, has been continued to the present time. In 1848 
Mr. Stimson sold his interest to William P. Ellis and the 
firm of O. G. Caldwell & Co. was continued until 1853 when 
the mill and machinery were purchased by George Eockwood 
and Addison A. Walker. Mr. Eockwood sold his interest 
to his son, George G. Eockwood, in 1866, but the name of 
the firm was not changed. The firm was dissolved by the 
retirement of Mr. Walker in 1876, and the mill was burned 
in 1883. Mr. Eockwood purchased the Winchester mill and 
has continued the manufacture to the present time. The 
business has been successfully conducted through these 
many years and is an important feature of the manufactures 
of this town. 

From about 1843 to 1851 this manufacture was conducted 
by two or three firms which included William Tenney, 
Samuel J. Tenney and Henry Lawrence. They occupied a 
part of the mill of E. Gross and Son and were successful. 
In 1856 Colonel Enoch Whitmore began the manufacture of 
tubs and continued the business several years. 

Thread Spools were formerly made in this town, and 
the manufacture was a prominent industry for many years. 
About 1830 Colonel Enoch Whitmore and Deacon Gilman 
Jones, under the firm of Whitmore and Jones, built a mill 
in the northwest part of the town on the western border of 
the Bellows grant, and established an extensive business in 
the manufacture of this ware. Their mill was burned in 

1840 and another in 1850. The large mill, now unoccupied, 
was erected in the autumn of 1850 and the business was 
continued by Colonel Whitmore until his death. The water 



power was supplemented by steam and in the last mill there 
was an engine of forty-horse power and for several years the 
full capacity of the mill was employed. This manufacture 
has been controlled of late by the proprietors of the thread 
mills and has been conducted near the centres of the trade. 
Nathaniel L. Eaton and Lysander Harris also manufactured 
spools in the lower mill, now of Packard Brothers, from 
1855 to 1862. In 1859 Leonard Foster purchased new 
machinery and prosecuted this industry with success several 

Friction Matches have been made in this town quite 
extensively. In 1837 William Brooks beganthe manufact- 
ure in North Ashburnham in a small shop built for the 
purpose and from time to time enlarged the business until a 
new shop was built for its accommodation. In itself the 
business of Mr. Brooks was successful, but he became 
involved in litigations concerning infringements of patents 
which offset the legitimate income of the enterprise. Mr. 
Brooks was succeeded by Eliakim T. Russell who continued 
the manufacture until 1865. 

By am, Carlton & Co. of Boston, for a few years, made a 
part of their matches in this town. They occupied a shop 
now owned by Daniels Ellis. Francis Kibling and Daniels 
Ellis were also engaged in the business. Another industry 
has been the manufacture of match stock or cards prepared 
for dipping. Those engaged in this business were Alvin 
Ward, Leonard Foster, Alonzo L. Willard, Eaton and 
Harris, Milton Lane and others. 

Baskets have been made by John M. Pratt in South 
Ashburnham during the past thirty years. His shop, 
formerly a Methodist parsonage, was moved from West- 
minster. He has steam power, a trip-hammer and 
machinery adapted to the business. Formerly, the baskets 


for farm aud household use were made entirely of ash. Of 
late, rattan has been used for fillifig and new patterns of 
baskets for a variety of uses have been manufactured. 

Doors, Sash and Blinds have been manufactured by 
Reuben Puffer in South Ashburnham. Like all other mills 
in this town, some parts of it have been used in the manufact- 
ure of chairs. In this mill there has been a number of 
tenants but none of them have conducted a very extensive 

Miscellaneous wood- ware, not included in the foregoing 
paragraphs, has been manufactured in this town by Colonel 
Whitmore, Warren F. Sawtell, Isaac D. "Ward, LeRoy 
Butler, F. H. Rideout, William P. Ellis, Fletcher Brothers, 
and in 1884 Samuel N. Noyes began the manufacture of toys 
on Water street, giving employment to ten or twelve men 
and producing a variety of miscellaneous wares. 

Wool Carding and Cloth Dressing. — Thomas Park 
removed to this town in 1779 and about 1790 he built a 
small mill on the east side of the river and nearly opposite 
the present site of the blacksmith shop. In this mill he was 
the first to engage in fulling and dressing the cloth which 
had been woven in hand looms. He sold in 1800 to Fitch 
Crosby who conducted a prosperous business until about 
1840. This mill was subsequently owned by Horace Black, 
who was eno^as^ed in the manufacture of furniture. It was 
finally destroyed by the freshet in 1850. Commencing 
about 1815 Mr. Crosby and Joshua Townsend began wool 
carding by power. Their cards were in a shop that stood on 
the site of the morocco shop. 

Samuel Dunster, about 1820, built a shop for wool carding 
where the tub shop of Rock wood and Walker was burned. 
In this business he was succeeded by Dr. Nathaniel Pierce. 
Mr. Dunster built another shop for this business, below his 


grist-mill, at Factory Village. This building was washed 
away by the freshet but the cards had not been run for 
several years previously. In 1825, or about the time card- 
ing machines were introduced on Mill street, Joshua, Moses, 
and Jeremiah Stowell, from Temple, New Hampshire, built 
a shop on the North Turnpike and began wool carding and 
spinning. With the aid of hand looms they manufactured 
broadcloth of a firm texture and substantial character. In 
this business they were succeeded about 1830 by Charles 
Stimson . 

Cotton Factories. — Cotton spinning by power and the 
manufacture supplemented by hand looms was begun in this 
town as early as 1811 or 1812. Samuel Dunster of this 
town owning three-fourths and Roger Chandler of Mason, 
New Hampshire, owning one-fourth, were the first to engage 
in this business. Their mill was at Factory Village. It was 
subsequently owned by Samuel Barrett, Jewett and Woods 
and George Blackburn & Co., who purchased it in 1843. 
The mill was burned in 1846 and a larger mill was built 
immediately after. The last mill was burned in 1877. The 
factory on Water street was built by an incorporated com- 
pany in 1849. The stock was held by residents of this 
town who, without previous experience in the business, run 
the mill a few years and until the debt of the corporation 
was equal to the value of the plant. The mill was sold in 
1856 to George Blackburn and Ohio Whitney, Jr. The 
amount received from this sale paid the indebtedness of the 
corporation and thirteen cents on one hundred dollars of the 
capital stock. It will be observed that the corporation could 

have run the mill about eiffht hours lonojer without an assess- 
es o 

ment. Mr. Whitney continued his interest in the mill and 
the business about ten years when he sold to George Black- 
burn & Co., who have continued to the present time. 


Tanneries. — Following a custom of the time, the hides 
of domestic animals were tanned on shares or for stipulated 
compensation and the leather returned to the owner. The 
operation of tanning hides and dressing leather consumed 
time and often the leather fell into the hands of an adminis- 
trator or the heirs of the original owner of the hides. In all 
the old New England towns there were numerous little 
tanneries located near a convenient brook where without 
machinery of any kind the process was slowly conducted. 
Mention will be made of some of the old locations where this 
business was formerly conducted, and if, by any chance, one 
or more of them have not been discovered in this review of 
the past no immediate prejudice against the industry of a 
former generation will be encouraged thereby. 

Near the close of the Revolution, Willard Lane commenced 
this business where now is the residence of Walter O. Parker. 
He sold in 1797 to Deacon William J. Lawrence who en- 
larged the facilities and for the time conducted an extensive 

Captain David Gushing divided his time between tanning 
and other employments. He lived where Nahum Wood now 
resides. His vats were north of the house and part of them 
are now covered by the highway. Levi Adams succeeded 
Mr. Gushing but soon closed out the business. 

Stephen Gorey had a yard where George F. Gorey now 
resides and was engaged in tanning a number of years early 
in the present century. In one of the vats his daughter was 
drowned. The business was later conducted by .Stephen 
Gorey, Jr. On his farm on Eussell hill James Adams had 
several vats and conducted the business a number of years. 
This farm was subsequently owned and occupied by Joseph 


John Caldwell was also a tanner as well as a farmer. He 
lived on the farm now of Alden B. Marble and was succeeded 
by his son, Oliver G. Caldwell. The father and son con- 
ducted a limited business about thirty years, commencing 
early in the present century. The Cald wells were the first 
in this town to employ water power in grinding bark. 
Formerly it had been ground in a crude mill turned by a 
horse which described the same circle many times in the 
labor of the day. The horse was spoiled for other work and 
literally died in the harness. So slowly did he move even 
under the lash, and so gradually did his energies waste away, 
that it required nice discrimination and keen exercise of a 
sound judgment to determine with accuracy the precise time 
to transfer the half-tanned hide from the dying animal to one 
of the vats. 

Fletcher and Warren of Stow once had a yard where the 
pail shop of George G. Rock wood now stands. The yard 
was formerly conducted by Deacon William J. Lawrence 
who was owner of the yard at the foot of Lawrence street. 
The yard was badly injured and the buildings destroyed by 
the freshet in 1850 and the business was never resumed on 
this site. 

From 1855 to 1866 Elbridge Stimson conducted the 
business in the old morocco shop which was recently burned. 
At the time he was the onl}^ tanner in the town and no one 
has succeeded him. 

The Morocco Business. — Thomas Eussell began the 
morocco business in this town about sixty years ago. His 
shop was on Eussell hill in the third school district and 
opposite the farm of Ward Russell. After about five years, 
he sold the business to Walter Russell, who was succeeded 
by Frank Russell and Samuel Y. Whitney. In 1852 they 
removed the business to Water street, occupying the old tan- 


iiery buildings where the factory of George G. Eockwoocl 
now stands. About thirty years ago they erected the build- 
ing familiarly known as the morocco shop. At this time the 
business was enlarged, becoming an important factor among 
the industries of the town. In the new shop they were 
succeeded by Austin Whitney who with several partners 
continued the business until the shop was burned in 1882. 

Ivers and Thomas Adams were successfully engaged in 
finishing morocco on Russell hill from 1838 to 1860. In 
1833 James Adams built a shop on the site of the mill now 
of Cyrus A. Jefts. In connection with pulling wool and 
tanning he finished morocco until he removed in 1849 to 
Pennsylvania. He was succeeded by Luther B. and Andrew 
J. Adams. The following year the property was destroyed 
by the freshet and Luther B. Adams, Elbridge Stimson and 
Austin Whitney built the shop on Brown brook where they 
conducted the same business a few years. 

Among the possibilities of this town should be mentioned 
the business and residence here of John and Salmon W. 
Putnam, who removed from Mason, New Hampshire, in 
1837 and commenced business as machinists in the old 
cotton factory at Factory Yillage. Here they remained 
three years when they removed to Fitchburg where they 
established an important industry which still bears their 
name and continues to contribute to the fame and wealth of 
that city. 








Enthusiasm in military afikirs for many years succeeding 
the Revolution was spontaneous. The man of middle age, 
familiar with the manual of arms and the school of the soldier, 
was fond of the pomp and display of military pageants. The 
youth, listening from childhood to the stories of battles and 
campaigns in which the eloquent narrators had been engaged, 
were early imbued with a kindred zeal in these pursuits. 
The old soldier, debarred by the infirmities of age from 
active participation in the exercises of the field, was ever 
present with words of encouragement and support. In 
those days, either in deed or in spirit, all were soldiers. 
Encouraged by public sentiment and fostered by the laws of 
the Commonwealth, a military establishment was easily 
maintained, and in addition to other incentives there was 
associated with rank and with military titles an acknowledged 
dignity and honor which firmly appealed to the ambition of 
men. With such surroundings every military parade was 
conducted with enthusiasm and was witnessed by a crowd of 



applauding people. On these occasions the drum, the fife 
and the attending juvenile suffered no restraint. The stated 
trainings and the musters were scenes of bustle and activity 
in which a Quaker would have been regarded with contempt 
and supremely pitied in his loneliness. 

The town of Ashburnham, eagerly participating in the 
prevailing sentiment of the times, manifested a lively interest 
in the local military organizations which for many years were 
sustained with a steadfast enthusiasm. In addition to all the 
requirements of the State, an independent military organiza- 
tion has been maintained in this town, almost without inter- 
ruption, since the Revolution. 

In a former chapter it appears that the minute-men of this 
town were under the command of Captain Jonathan Gates 
from 1775 to 1781. Upon a reorganization of the militia, 
the company in this town became known as the seventh 
company of the Eighth Regiment. July 1, 1781, Francis 
Lane was commissioned captain, Ebenezer Conant, Jr., first 
lieutenant, and Daniel Putnam, second lieutenant. Lieuten- 
ant Conant died in 1783 and Captain Rand was promoted to 
major, and to lieutenant-colonel, 1787. In connection with 
these events, other officers of the Ashburnham company 
probably were appointed, of which no record has been found. 
May 2, 1787, Daniel Putnam was commissioned captain, 
Ebenezer Munroe, lieutenant, and John Abbott, ensign^ 
Lieutenant Munroe and Ensign Abbott w^ere not promoted. 
These titles became permanently affixed to their names. 
The next commander of the company probably was Joseph 
Jewett. No record of his first commission has been dis- 
covered, but he was in command of the company in 1789, 
and about this time John Adams was an ensign and a 


Until a later date there was only one company of militia 
in this town, and, until 1791, it does not appear that the 
company organization was privileged or distinguished from 
any other militia company organized under the general laws 
of the State. But in June, 1791, the Greneral Court granted 
the petition of the military men of this town, presented by 
General Timothy Newell, and under the rights and privileges 
thus secured the Ashburnham Light Infantry was promptly 
organized. Its legal existence properly dates from the issue 
of the first commissions to its officers, July 13, 1791. The 
petition and the proceedings of the Greneral Court were as 
follows : 

To THE Honourable, the Senate and the House of Repre- 
sentatives IN General Court Assembled : 

The petition of Timothy Newell Major General of the seventh 
division of Militia in said Commonwealth humbh^ sheweth : — 

That a number of persons, in the town of Ashburnham in the 
4*^' Regiment in the 2^ Brigade of said Division, did (when under 
the command of the Hon.''^^ Maj."" Gen.^ Warner) agree to form 
themselves into a Company of Light Infantry and as doubts have 
arisen whether said persons can be formed into any other than an 
independent company and as it is not the wish of said persons to 
be thus established, j^our petitioner therefore prays that liberty be 
granted to raise a Company of Light Infantry within the aforesaid 
Regiment to be considered as a Company of Regimental Light 
Infantry under the command of the Colonel or Commanding 
officer of said Regiment. 

The foregoing petition was presented June 18, 1791, and 
in response the Legislature passed the following resolve : 

Resolved, That His Excellency the Governor be and he is 
hereby empowered and requested to issue orders for forming a 
Company of Light Infantr}' in the town of Ashburnham, provided 
they do not reduce the standing company of militia in said town 


to a less number than sixt}' privates of the train band ; the officers 
of said Light Infantry company' to be appointed and commissioned 
in the same way and manner as is provided b}^ law for the appoint- 
ing and commissioning other military officers. Said company 
when so formed to be under the command of the Colonel or com- 
manding officer of the fourth regiment of the second brigade in 
said division. 

Under the privileges extended by this proceeding the 
Ashburnham Light Infantry was promptly organized. The 
first officers, commissioned July 13, 1791, were Joseph 
Jewett, captain, Caleb Kendall, lieutenant, and Charles 
Hastings, ensign. The following year Captain Jewett was 
promoted to major, and Charles Hastings was commissioned 
captain, August 27, 1792, and consequently was the second 
commander of the company. 

Concerning the names or the number of men who belonged 
to the company during the first twenty years of its legal 
existence there is no complete record. Beginning with the 
command of Ivers Jewett in 1813 the Ashburnham Light 
Infimtry entered upon an era of prosperity. A book of 
enlistments, containing the names of all who were members 
of the company in 1813, with dates of original enlistment 
and the names of all who enlisted from that date to 1845, is 
carefully preserved in the archives of the company. At the 
close of the year 1813, the number of rank and file, including 
non-commissioned officers and musicians, was fifty^ men. 
The only original member of the company was James Laws, 
Jr., of Westminster, who enlisted first in the militia in 
April, 1789, two years before the company was organized 
under permission of the Legislature. The next in duration 
of service was Joseph F. Burgess who joined in 1796, and 
following with a record of seven years or more of service are 
the names of Joseph Miller, Jonas Holden, John Gates, Jr., 


Jacob Ward, James Adams, Ebenezer Munroe, Jr., Charles- 
Munroe, John Hastings, Ebenezer Adams, Ivers Jewett, 
Walter E. Adams, Timothy Crehore, Jr., Dickerson Brooks 
and Jonathan Samson, Jr. Including the existing company 
in 1813 and the subsequent enlistments to 1845, the record 
contains three hundred and ninety-eight names. 

The obligation to which each recruit subscribed, copied on 
the first page of the book of enlistment by the hand of Ivers 
Jewett, is probably a copy of the obligation adopted in 1791. 
It is here transcribed and will be familiar to many now 
living : 

To facilitate the performance of the duty, which we owe to our 
country, of adding to our character as citizens some portion of the 
skill of the soldier, to increase our usefuhiess as militia men by 
adding to the zeal which is excited by patriotism, the ardor which 
is inspired by emulation and to give to each one of us who exert- 
ing himself for his own and his State's defence that confidence in 
the zealous and skilful cooperation of each other which can result 
only in military discipline ; We do hereby, agreeable to a resolve 
from the General Court of this Commonwealth, passed June the 
eighteenth, A. D. seventeen hundred and ninety-one for the 
raising of a Light Infantry company in the town of Ashburnham, 
voluntarily enlist as members of the Ashburnham Light Infantry 
compan}^ and to govern us in the pursuit of these objects we agree 
to equip ourselves according to the laws of this Commonwealth, to 
uniform according to the uniform of said company, which is per 
according to the clerk's book, and to submit to the rules and 
regulations of said company. All of which we pledge our honors 
to perform. 

In the war of 1812, the Ashburnham Light Infantry was 
held in a state of suspense through the summer of 1813 and 
a part of the following year. The indifference of Massa- 
chusetts to the prosecution of the war is a part of the general 


history of the times. So far as individual opinion was con- 
cerned the general sentiment of the town was in support of 
the position of Governor Strong. But the spirit of the 
soldier arose in triumph over the prevailing sentiment of the 
town. During the progress of the war, the company was 
frequently disciplined in the exercise of arms and expectantly 
awaited the summons to march. 

During the summer of 1814 the presence of an unusual 
number of the armed vessels of the enemy caused frequent 
and o^rave alarm on the sea-coast. At this time several 
reofiments of State militia were called out and were stationed 
in Boston and vicinity. The Ashburnham Light Infantry 
was ordered into the service early in the month of Septem- 
ber. There are several now living who remember the 
hurried preparation and departure from this town. It was 
on the Sabbath. The company assembled at the Jewett 
store and after brief words of counsel and fervent prayer for 
their safe return by Rev. Dr. Gushing, the arms, ammunition 
and equipage were on a long line of wagons hastily engaged 
for the occasion. The soldiers were in uniform but in the 
general features of the day there was only a faint suggestion 
of a military demonstration. The highway was filled with 
vehicles of all descriptions which were employed to transport 
the army on its way. The wagons were unloaded at Lan- 
caster. The men were ordered under arms and they pro- 
ceeded on their way in a more warlike demonstration. They 
arrived in due time at Boston and were mustered into the 
service September 9. The company was stationed at South 
Boston and Dorchester fifty-one days and was discharged 
October 30, 1814. Soon after their safe return to their 
homes. Rev. Dr. Gushing preached a sermon addressed 
particularly to the soldiers, congratulating them and the 
public on the prospect of peace. The sermon contains some 



wholesome advice. "Let me caution you to take heed that 
you rejoice without infringing upon the rules of temperance. 
The pleasure of this day is marred if anything takes place 
inconsistent with your characters as men and Christians." 

The following is the roll of the company at this time. 
The three last names were enrolled a few days before the 
company was ordered into service. The remaining names 
are transcribed from the official roll at the annual inspection 
in May preceding. Four of the company — James Laws, 
Jr., Jonas Holden, Joseph Policy and Adam Butler — were 
residents of Westminster. 

Ivers Jewett, Captain 
Timothy Crehore, Lieutenant 
Walter R. Adams, Ensign 

Ebenezer Adams, Sergeant 
John Gates, Jr., '' 

Reuben Townsend, Jr., " 
Elijah Brooks, '' 

James Adams, Fifer 

Benjamin Barrett, '* 
Oliver Barrett, Drummer 
Amos Stone, " 

Laban Gushing, " 
Jonathan Samson, Jr. 
Josiah White 
Reuben Rice, Jr. 
Luther Bigelow 
Joseph F. Burgess 
James Billings 
Ebenezer Flint 
James Laws, Jr. 
Charles Munroe 
Ebenezer Munroe, Jr. 
Joseph Miller 

Stephen Marble 
Joseph Rice 
Joseph Townsend 
Ephraim Taylor 
Jonas Holden 
Humphrey Harris 
Henry Gipson 
Joel Marble 
George Wilker, Jr. 
Adam Butler 
Thomas Howard 
Charles Stimson 
Asahel Corey 
Caleb Willard 
Elisha Garfield 
Elias Blodgett 
Enoch Whitmore 
Charles Barrett 
Asia Phillips 
Dickerson Brooks 


Edward Maynard John Hastings 

Joseph PoUey Reuben Stimson 

Jacob Ward Heman Harris 

Stephen Adams Jabez Marble 

For many years succeeding the war of 1812 the independ- 
ent company was maintained with full ranks. In proficiency 
of drill and standard of discipline it was among the first 
companies of the regiment. The officers were frequently 
promoted to command of the regiment and the citizens of 
the town evinced a reasonable pride in the organization. In 
the progress of years the military spirit was suffered to 
decline, the laws of the State were frequently amended and 
proffered a diminishing support and encouragement in the 
maintenance of a military organization. In an hour of 
despondency the company appealed to the town for assist- 
ance, but in this direction they were met with a cold refusal. 
In 1838 a proposition to make a small appropriation for the 
benefit of the company and another to loan them a small 
amount of money, were promptly denied. The sentiment 
of indifference which pervaded the community as a natural 
consequence was disseminated among the ranks of the com- 
pany. From about 1845, the record is gloomy and often 
overcast with inactivity, but the company maintained a legal 
existence and occasionally manifested a spasmodic efl^ort at 
resustication until December 1, 1851, when the remaining 
officers were officially discharged. From that date until 
1855, the company remained beneath the surface. The last 
captain was Nathaniel F. Cutter who resigned November 14, 
1846, and no successor was commissioned. Lieutenant 
Clarence M. Proctor remained lieutenant commanding until, 
as stated, December 1, 1851. In the mean time orders for 
the choice of officers were issued, and in 1847 Colonel 



Francis J. Barrett was chosen captain, but he declined to 
qualify and assume command of the company. 

From 1791 to 1851 the following officers of the Ashburn- 
ham Light Infantry have been commissioned. The absence 
of a date in connection with a very few of the names indi- 
cates that no official record of the commission has been 
found, yet no name has been admitted without ample proof 
of service in the capacity indicated. 


Joseph Jewett, 
Charles Hastings, 
Willard Lane, 
John ScoUay, 
Phinehas Randall, 
Silas Willard, 
Caleb Wilder, 
Grovener Scollay, 
Henry Willard, 
IVEoses Lawrence, 
Ivers Jewett, 
TimothyCrehore, Jr 
Ebenezer Adams, 
Hosea Stone, 
Charles Barrett, 
John Willard, Jr., 
Joseph Rice, 
Reuben Rice, 
Samuel Foster, 
Emery Rice, 
Asa Merriara, 
Kilburn Harwood, 
Alvin Kendall, 
Henry Kibling, Jr., 
John W. Mossman, 
' Asahel Wheeler, 
Jonas Corey, 
Nathaniel F. Cutter 






Caleb Kendall. 1791 

Willard Lane, 1792 

John Scollay, 1795 

Phinehas Randall, 1797 
Silas Willard, 1798 

Grovener Scollay, 1805 
Henry Willard, 1807 

Ivers Jewett, 1811 

Timothy Crehore, Jr. 1813 
Ebenezer Adams. 1815 
Charles Barrett, 1817 
John Willard, Jr., 1820 
Joseph Rice, 1822 

Enoch Whitmore. 1824 
Reuben Rice, 1826 

Samuel Foster, 1827 

Oilman Jones, 1828 

Emery Rice, 1830 

Asa Merriam, 1831 

Lewis G. Houghton, 1832 
Asahel Corey, 1833 

John W. Mossman, 1838 
Asahel Wheeler, 1841 
Jonas Corey, 1844 

Nathaniel F. Cutter, 1845 
Clarence M. Proctor, 1846 


Charles Hastings, 1791 

John Scollay, 1792 

Phinehas Randall, 1795 
Silas Willard, 

Grovener Scollay, 1802 

Henry Willard, 1805 

Moses Lawrence, 1807 

Samuel Gates, 1810 

Walter R. Adams, 1813 

John Gates, Jr., 1815 

John Willard, Jr., 1817 

Joseph Rice, 1820 

Reuben Rice, 1822 

Samuel Foster, 1826 

Oilman Jones, 1827 

Emery Rice, 1828 

Asa Merriam, 1830 
Lewis G. Houghton, 1831 

George Woods, 1832 

Alvin Kendall, 1834 

Henry Kibling, Jr., 1837 

Asahel Wheeler, 1838 

Francis J. Barrett, 1841 

Jonas Corey, 1841 
Nathaniel F. Cutter, 1844 
Clarence M. Proctor,1845 

Alonzo P. Davis, 1846 

During the last five years of this period there were more 
than two lieutenants. After 1841 there was a third lieu- 
tenant and the officers who held this commission were 
Nathaniel F. Cutter, 1841-44; Clarence M. Proctor, 
1844-45; Alonzo P. Davis, 1845-46; Joseph P. Kice, 
1846-51. The only fourth lieutenant was Samuel V. Whit- 


ney who was in commission from 184G to 1851. From the 
officers of the Ashburnham Light Inftmtiy, there were many 
promotions in the service. 

Colonel Joseph Jewett was commissioned major, Jmie 28, 
1792, and lieutenant-colonel, April 13, 1795. General Ivers 
Jewett, major, April 24, 1815 ; lieutenant-colonel, June 20, 
1816 ; colonel, August 12, 1817 ; brigadier-general. May 11, 
1819 ; major-general, June 10, 1822 ; resigned. May 30, 
1826. Colonel Timothy Crehore, Jr., major, August 12, 
1817; lieutenant-colonel. May 7, 1818; colonel, June 28, 
1819. Colonel Hosea Stone, major, March 23, 1820; lieu- 
tenant-colonel, March 19, 1822. Colonel Charles Barrett, 
major, March 19, 1822; lieutenant-colonel, April 15, 1822; 
colonel, March 2, 1824. Colonel Enoch Whitmore promoted 
from lieutenant to major, July 1, 1826; lieutenant-colonel, 
July 23, 1827 ; colonel, August 31, 1829. Colonel Kilburn 
Harwood, major. May 13, 1837, and colonel, July 24, 1841. 
Colonel Francis J. Barrett promoted from ensign and 
adjutant to major, August 20, 1842 ; lieutenant-colonel, 
September 2, 1843; colonel, August 6, 1844; resigned, 
February 26, 1846. 

It will be remembered that in the resolve of the General 
Court creating the Ashburnham Light Infantry, there was a 
provision that from the men in this town liable to perform 
military duty, sixty or more should be reserved for a militia 
company under the general laws of the State. This service, 
upon those not legally exempt, was compulsory, yet for many 
years it was rendered with apparent alacrity. The company 
of militia was continued and it maintained a visible organiza- 
tion until the annual trainings and musters were abolished. 
The officers of the militia company from 1792 to 1834 were 
as follows : 





Jonathan Merriam, 1792 
Silas Whitney, 1795 

EbenezerT. Adams, 1799 
Henry Kiblinger, 1801 
John Willard, 1802 

Samuel Cotting, 1803 
George R. Gushing, 1807 
Philander J. Willard, 1811 
Lemuel Whitney, 1813 
Jacob Fairbanks, 1814 
Elias Lane, 1816 

Timotliy Stearns, 1818 
Francis Lane, Jr., 1821 
Benjamin Gibbs, 1822 
Jonas Munroe, 1824 

John C. Davis, 1826 

Jehiel Watkins, 1827 
Henry Kibling, Jr., 1828 
Jonas Nutting, Jr., 1830 
Asa Merriam, 1832 

Josiah L. Wetherbee, 1834 


Isaac Whitmore, 1792 
EbenezerT. Adams, 1795 
Henry Kiblinger, 1797 
Nathaniel Foster, 1799 
Caleb Wilder, 1802 

Silas Whitney, 1803 

Itharaer Fairbanks, 1805 
Philander J. Willard, 1809 
Lemuel Whitney, 1811 
Elias Lane, 1814 

Timothy Stearns, 1816 
Francis Lane, Jr., 1818 
Benjamin Gibbs, 1821 
Jonas Munroe, 1822 

John C. Davis, 1824 

Jehiel Watkins, 1826 
Henry Kibling, Jr., 1827 
Jonas Nutting, Jr., 1828 
Charles Davis, 1830 

Josiah L. Wetherbee, 1833 


Henry Whiteman, 1792 

Jolm Adams, Jr., 1795 

John Willard, Jr., 1797 

Nathaniel Foster, 1798 

Samuel Cotting, 1799 

Ithamer Fairbanks, 1803 

Lemuel Whitney, 1808 

Elias Lane, 1813 

Timothy Stearns, 1814 

Francis Lane, Jr., 1816 

Charles Stearns, 1818 

Jonas Munroe, 1821 

John C. Davis, 1822 

Jehiel Watkins, 1824 

Henry Kibling, Jr., 1826 

John Leathers, 1827 

Charles Davis, 1828 
Josiah L. Wetherbee, 1830 

In 1814 this company, then under the command of Cap- 
tain Jacob Fairbanks, contained seventy men, including 
officers. In the summer of this year a draft of two men was 
made. Tradition asserts that the lot fell on Deacon William 
J. Lawrence and Thomas Hobart. Both of these men were 
Federalists and opposed to the prosecution of the war and 
the administration party greatly rejoiced over the result. In 
regard to Deacon Lawrence the tradition is correct. He 
was drafted at this time and furnished a substitute, but the 
name of Thomas Hobart does not appear on the roll of the 
company. Jesse Ellis was the other man drafted and Henry 
Whiteman was his substitute. From this company Colonel 
Benjamin Gibbs was promoted to major, March 2, 1824, and 
to lieutenant-colonel, March 2, 1825. Colonel Jehiel 
Watkins was promoted to major, August 7, 1841 ; to lieu- 
tenant-colonel, September 6, 1841, and to colonel, Septem- 
ber 2, 1843. Among the regimental officers several were 
adjutants. Dr. Abraham Lowe was appointed regimental 


surgeon, October 3, 1*805 ; Dr. Abraham T. Lowe, surgeon's 
mate, March 24, 1821, and Melzer Hudson was appointed 
quartermaster, July 5, 1797. 

The Ashburnham Light Infantry did not long remain 
beneath the surface. The second epoch of its history 
extends from 1855 to 1862. If it faded from existence 
through the tardy processes of disintegration it sprang into 
life with spontaneous and vigorous animation. The slum- 
bering military spirit was swiftly kindled into flame. The 
occasion was found in a Fourth of July celebration at Fitch- 
burg in 1855. The reviving sentiment of the town invited 
Captain Henry Kibling to call together the remaining mem- 
bers of the company and to fill the ranks with new recruits. 
The men were drilled and participated in the celebration with 
credit to themselves and to the town. The spirit of former 
years was fully aroused. The company was reorganized and 
continued in a flourishing condition until the war of the 
Eebellion. A conspicuous record of service in the field is 
continued in another chapter. Under authority of the 
following general order the old company was revived : 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Head Quarters, Boston, July 13, 1855. 
Special Order No. 30. 

Whereas, Alonzo P. Davis and fifty-eight others of Ashburnham 
have petitioned His Excellency the Governor and Commander-in- 
Chief for liberty to organize a company of Infantry in the town of 
Ashburnham and vicinity. 

The Commander-in-Chief grants the prayer thereof and directs 
that orders be issued for the choice of officers immediately ; the 
notification thereof be addressed to Alonzo P. Davis of Ashburn- 

The Commander-in-Chief further orders that when said Com- 
pany is organized it be known as Company G, Ninth Regiment of 


Infantry. Upon the application of the Captain when duly quali- 
fied, and a certificate from the Selectmen of Ashburnham that they 
have provided a suitable armory, the arms and equipments will 
be furnished by the Adjutant-General. 

By command of His Excellency, 


Governor and Commander-in-Chief. 
Ebenezek W. Stone, 


The company^ promptl}^ organized with Joseph P. Rice, 
captain, and four lieutenants. This number of officers was 
continued until 1861. The number of men on the company 
roll at the close of the year was sixty-five, nearly all of 
whom enlisted immediately after the order and before the 
choice of officers. 

The petitioners met in the Town Hall July 26, 1855, and 
completed an organization. At this time the regulations 
prescribed four lieutenants for the company. The officers 
chosen at this time were commissioned under same date as 
follows : 

Captain, Joseph P. Rice ; First Lieutenant, Addi- 
son A. Walker ; Second Lieutenant, Jonas Morse ; 
Third Lieutenant, Alonzo P. Davis ; Fourth Lieutenant, 
George H. Barrett. Fifty-five men were included in the 
original enlistment and eleven were added immediately after 
the organization. With full ranks and ably commanded, the 
company attended the division muster at West Brookfield in 
September. At this date Colonel Edwin Upton of Fitch- 
burg was in command of the regiment. From 1855 to 1861, 
it was known as Company G of the Tenth Regiment, and 
until all companies of militia were depleted by individual 
enlistments in the service, the Ashburnham Light Infantry 
was in a prosperous condition and was maintained with full 


ranks. The whole number of enlistments from the date of 
reorganization to April, 1861, was one hundred and forty- 
three. After this date many members of the company 
entered the service and a large number joined the company, 
but they were enlisted for service in the army, rather than as 
members of a local company of militia. During this period 
there were few changes in the officers. Late in December of 
the same year Jonas Morse resigned. Lieutenants Davis 
and Barrett were promoted and Silas Nims was commissioned 
fourth lieutenant, February 28, 1857. At the promotion of 
Captain Rice Lieutenant AYalker was commissioned captain, 
August 11, 1860. Lieutenants Davis and Barrett were 
promoted May 7, 1860. Lieutenant Nims resigned and 
Samuel A. Taylor was commissioned third lieutenant, and 
James W. Gardner, foui-th lieutenant, June 15, 1.860. On 
the occasion of the resignation of First Lieutenant Walker 
in March, the company was under command of Lieutenant 
Davis from June to August, 1860. Colonel Joseph P. Rice 
was promoted to colonel, June 19, 1860. On his staff Dr. 
Alfred Miller was surgeon and Marshall Wetherbee was 

At the close of the war the independent organization in 
this town was revived. Many of those who were members 
before the war desired the establishment of the old company 
and a greater number who had served in the war eagerly 
seized a favorable opportunity to continue in this manner the 
companionship and association of arms. Early in the year 
1866, the contemplated movement was earnestly forwarded 
and in response to a petition numerously signed the decisive 
order was issued August 11, 1866. 

Special Order, No. 99. 

Asabel AYheeler and fifty-nine others of Ashburiiham, having 
forwarded to the Adjutant-General a roll of enUstment for the 


Volunteer Militia of the Commonwealth, agreeably to the laws of 
this Commonwealth governing and regulating the militia, 

It is ordered that a company be organized of the men thus en- 
listed and that a captain and one first lieutenant and one second 
lieutenant be immediately chosen. The order to assemble the 
men for the election will be directed to Asahel Wheeler of Ash- 
burnham who will furnish the presiding officer with an attested 
copy of the enlistment roll previous to the meeting. 

The chairman of the board of Selectmen of Ashburnham will 
preside at the election. The company when organized will be 
designated and known as Company E, First Battalion Infantry, 
M. V. M. 

By order of the Commander-in-Chief. 



The company was promptly organized and the commis- 
sions of the first officers bear date of September 3, 1866. 
The past twenty years have been an era of prosperity. The 
organization owns the armory which was purchased 1883, and 
have camp property valued at about three hundred dollars. 
The present number of men, including officers, is fifty-eight, 
and sustained by public sentiment the future of the company 
is secure. 

Soon after the reorganization of the company in 1866, 
with unqualified unanimity of sentiment and in memory of 
the gallant Colonel Joseph P. Rice, the organization assumed 
the name of The Eice Guards. The official designation 
is Company E. From 1866 to 1869, the company composed 
a part of the first battalion, first brigade, and first division; 
from 1869 to 1878, the company was in the Tenth Regiment, 
third brigade ; and since the reorganization of the militia, 
December 3, 1878, the company has formed a part of the 
Sixth Regiment of infantry in the first brigade . The officers 



of Company E, and the date of commission, from 18 GG to 
the present time, are given as follows : 




Asahel Wheeler, 


George E. Davis, 


Harrison C. Cheney, 1866 

George E. Davis, 


Samuel C. Lesure, 


Samuel C. Lesure, 1867 

William H. Lindley 


George E. Davis, 


James M. Garnet, 1867 

Walter 0. Parker, 


William H. Lindley 


George E. Davis, 1868 

Josiah W. Bride, 


Walter 0. Parker, 


Leander W. Libby, 1868 

Walter H. Laws, 


Eugene A. Puffer, 


Harrison C Cheney, 1869 

Charles H. Pratt, 


C. Edgar Willard, 


Michael ritzGibbon,1870 

Josiah W. Bride, 


John H. Stoddard, 1872 

Walter H. Laws, 


C. Edgar Willard, 1874 

Charles H. Pratt, 


Daniel F. Ryan, 1874 

Alvah S. FuUford, 


Lucius R. Hodgman,1876 
Charles H. Pratt, 1880 
Alvah S. FuUford, 1882 
Charles H. White, 1885 

Major Josiah W. Bride was commissioned major, Feb- 
ruary 7, 1882 ; resigned March 'Ih, 1884. 











Massachusetts, for many years preceding the War of the 
Rebellion, had occupied an advanced position among the 
Northern States in the maintenance of an organized and dis- 
ciplined militia. At the first call for men to suppress the 
Rebellion, no State responded with less delay. The regi- 
ments from this State were not only early in the field, but 
they entered the service in a better state of discipline than 
was a majority of the army hastily gathered at Washington. 
In these measures of military preparation the town of Ash- 
burnham maintained a foremost rank, and during the early 
progress of the war the influence and the mission of the 
Ashburnham Light Infantry was clearly revealed. The 
military spirit fostered hy the organization, joined by a 
stronger force in the patriotic impulse of the people, was 
represented by over eighty men from this town in the army 
during the first eight months of the war. To present the 
names of the volunteers from this town, with the date of 



enlistment, the regiment and duration of service and a record 
of casualties and disability, will be the province of this chap- 
ter. A faithful account of the service of each soldier would 
fill a volume. 

In the spring of 1861, the Ashburnham Light Infantry, 
under the command of Captain Addison A. Walker, was in 
a good state of discipline and promptly tendered service to 
the governor as an organization. The disciplined companies 
were held in reserve by the State authorities to be dis- 
tributed anions: the res^iments that were soon to be recruited. 
For this reason the company from this town was not called 
into the service until the Twenty-first Kegiment was organized. 
This delay, complimentary in itself to the company, was the 
prolific source of embarrassment, and several men impatient 
of delay enlisted in other organizations. 

Joseph H. Whitney, George P. Nutting and Martin V. B. 
Grimes enlisted May 22, 1861, in Company A, Fourth 
Regiment, and were discharged at expiration of term of 
service in July of the same year. 

The Second Regiment was mustered, for three years. 
May 25, 1861, and by reenlistment was continued in the 
service until July 14, 1865. In this regiment, which 
rendered gallant service in Virginia, participating in the 
historic battles of that State, and later formed a part of 
General Sherman's army in the grand march to the sea, 
Ashburnham was represented by six men : Charles H. Heald 
was promoted to second lieutenant, July 3, 1865 ; Sergeant 
Allen A. Xutting was killed June 9, 1863, at Beverly Ford, 
Virginia ; Harvey A. Cheney was discharged September 13, 
1861 ; Benjamin F. Fay was killed at Cedar Mountain, 
Virginia, August 9, 1862 ; Charles W. Kendall was trans- 
ferred August 6, 1863, to the Veteran Reserve Corps, and 
Auo'ustus Mcintosh was discharged with the reo-iment after 

o CO 

four years of service in July, 1865. 


In the Fifteenth Regiment there were two original enlist- 
ments from this town. They were mustered July 12, 1861. 
Their record is as follows : John K. Walker was killed at 
Ball's Bluff, Virginia, October 21, 1861, and Robert J. 
Elliot was transferred to the regular army, September 24, 

In the Sixteenth Regiment was Patrick McCoolif who 
enlisted July 2, 1861, and completed three years of service. 

In the Twentieth Regiment was Francis Sacket who was 
discharged on account of disability, a month after his enlist- 

John Finan enlisted in First Regiment of Cavalry in 
September, and was discharged on account of wounds in 
February, 1863. 

During the early months of the war, and while the soldiers 
already named were enlisting into the service, the thought 
of the people and the action of the town related more par- 
ticularly to the home company which was momentarily 
expecting a summons to march. In a town meeting held at 
this time it was voted to raise the sum of eight hundred 
dollars to procure a uniform for the company, and a short 
time after an additional sum of six hundred dollars was 
appropriated for this purpose. The material was purchased, 
a tailor was employed and a hundred women of Ashburnham 
promptly volunteered to assist in making the military suits. 
This action of the town, prompted by a generous impulse, 
was of little benefit to the company. When the men were 
called into service they were required to uniform in accord- 
ance with the regulations of the army. 

The generosity of the town was unappeased with this act 
for the comfort and appearance of the soldier. The enthu- 
siastic liberality of George C. Winchester furnished each 
member of the company with a knife of offensive and 


defensive proportions and several of them are still preserved 
among the treasured relics of the war. There was con- 
siderable talk of procuring a revolver for each man of the 
company, and indeed, suggested by emphatic votes passed 
at an informal meeting of the citizens, a large number was 
purchased before it became apparent that a military company 
could not enter the field of active service in the capacity of 
a movable arsenal. One revolver was finally presented to 
each officer and the remainder was sold. In this proceed- 
ing the town in its corporate capacity took no part except to 
express an emphatic dissent ; but with greater wisdom and a 
more attentive regard for the future necessities of all con- 
cerned, the selectmen were instructed to provide for the 
needy families of the men in the service. During the con- 
tinued progress of the war, this proposal was faithfully 
executed and large sums of money from the treasury of the 
town and of the State were expended in the relief of the 
families of the soldiers. 

The Twenty-first Regiment was recruited in July and 
August, 1861. Company G of this regiment, composed 
largely of men from this town, entered Camp Lincoln in 
Worcester, July 19, and with the regiment left for the seat 
of war August 23. The record of this gallant regiment is a 
prominent feature of the reports of the Adjutant-General and 
its history has been published in an interesting and authentic 
narrative by Captain Charles F. Walcott. The regiment 
was assigned to the Burnside expedition to North Carolina 
and there participated in the battles of Roanoke, Newbern 
and Camden. In the summer and autumn of 1862 they 
participated in the campaign in Virginia and there inscribed 
on their colors the sanguinary lines of Manassas, Chantilly, 
South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg. The 
oasualties in these eno-affements will be noted with the 


several individual records. In the spring of 1863 the regi- 
ment rendered efficient service in Tennessee and in this 
campaign the battles of Blue Springs and Campbell's Station 
and the siege of Knoxville were inscribed on their banners. 

About the time General Grant assumed command of the 
armies of the United States, the regiment joined the army of 
Virginia and shared the arduous service and honors of that 
decisive campaign. In August, 1864, at the expiration of 
the term of service, those who had not reenlisted were 
honorably discharged and the veterans who had engaged to 
serve during the war were transferred to the Thirty-sixth 
and subsequently to the Fifty-sixth Kegiment. They re- 
mained with the army in Virginia and shared the glory of 
the capitulation of the rebel army. 

The following list contains the names of the men from 
Ashburnham who served in the Twenty-first Regiment. 
Nearly all of them were members of the Ashburnham Light 
Infantry, were mustered into the service in July, 1861, and 
were members of Company G. 

Captain Addison A. Walker, the senior captain of the 
regiment, was the commander of the Light Infantry at the 
beginning of the war. To the governor he promptly tendered 
the service of a disciplined and efficient company. In Janu- 
ary, 1862, the regiment sailed for North Carolina. Captain 
Walker, on account of sickness, was left at Annapolis. Sub- 
sequently he was detailed on recruiting service for several 
months. He then joined the regiment at Newbern, North 
Carolina, but being detailed on special service he could not 
be assigned to the command of his company. At this time 
General Burnside tendered him a position on his staff, but 
impatient at the restraints and embarrassments of the situa- 
tion he resigned May 13, 1862. From the first he enjoyed 
the respect of his men and the confidence of his superior 



First Lieutenant Alonzo P. Davis was a veteran in the 
Light Infantry, of which he had been an officer several years. 
He resigned in January, 1862. 

Second Lieutenant Samuel A. Taylor was promoted first 
lieutenant, January 24, 1862; captain. May 28, 1862; 
resigned, January 13, 1863. He was subsequently a second 
lieutenant in the Fourth Heavy Artillery. 

Sergeant Asahel Wheeler was promoted second lieutenant, 
January 24, 1862; first lieutenant. May 28, 1862; captain, 
Januar}*^ 14, 1863 ; resigned, April 25, 1863. He was sub- 
sequently a captain in the Sixty-first Regiment. 

Sergeant Charles H. Parker promoted first lieutenant. 
May 28, 1862; resigned, March 2, 1863. Wounded 
severel}^ while in command of the company at the 1)attle of 
Antietam, September 17, 1862. 

Corporal George E. Davis was an adjutant and sergeant- 
major ; promoted first lieutenant, April 26, 1863; he reen- 
listed and was honorably discharged, August 30, 1864, at 
the reduction of the regiment. 

Sergeant Joseph H. Whitney promoted to sergeant-major, 
July 21, 1862, and second lieutenant, October 30, 1862; 
resigned, February 23, 1863. 

Sergeant Samuel C. Lesure reenlisted, and in a reorgani- 
zation of the regiment was discharged as a supernumerary, 
September 24, 1864. 

Sergeant M. Thomas Russell was discharged on account 
of disability. May 8, 186.2. 

Corporal Lorenzo H. Gilbert promoted first sergeant, 
January 2, 1864; reenlisted and was honorably discharged, 
September 24, 1864. He was wounded in the service. 

Corporal Harrison C. Cheney promoted sergeant and 
acting sergeant-major and discharged at expiration of term 
of service, August 30, 1864. 


Corporal Charles G. Lawrence reenlisted ; was wounded 
at Spottsylvania, May 12, 1864. 

Corporal Charles Henry Puffer reenlisted ; was promoted 
to sergeant and killed at Spottsylvania, May 12, 1864. 

Corporal Henry H. Martindale reenlisted. 

George F. Puffer promoted corporal and sergeant ; reen- 
listed and was honorably discharged, September 24, 1864. 

Jonas W. Dwinnell promoted to corporal and discharged 
on account of wounds, Januar}^ 22, 1863. He was wounded 
and suffered the loss of an arm at the battle of Fredericks- 

Erastus Mcintosh promoted corporal ; reenlisted. 

Alfred Piper promoted corporal ; discharged on account 
of disability, October 16, 1862. 

Frank J. Litch, wagoner, discharged at expiration of term 
of service, August 30, 1864. 

Peter Archambeau discharged on account of disability. 
May 25, 1863. 

Joseph B. Brown discharged on account of wounds, May 
7, 1863. 

Merrill Farwell discharged on account of disability, 
August 4, 1862. 

James M. Garnet was transferred to Company H, Octo- 
ber 20, 1861 ; promoted to sergeant ; reenlisted and honor- 
ably discharged, September 24, 1864. 

George G. Hadley was wounded at Camden, North Caro- 
lina, and discharged on account of wounds, December 4, 

, James P. Hare was wounded at Chantilly ; discharged on 
account of wounds, January 16, 1863. 

Georo^e W. Lawrence reenlisted. 

Washburn Lewis discharged on account of disability, 
March 18, 1864. 


James Mclntire died at Newbern, North Carolina, April 
21, 1862. 

Ezra M. Merritt discharged on account of disability, 
August 9, 1862. 

George E. Page killed at Fredericksburg, December 13, 

Calvin Pindar re enlisted. 

William Pratt wounded at Antietam and discharged on 
account of wounds, November 25, 1862. 

Eugene A. Pufier wounded at Antietam ; discharged on 
account of wounds, March 27, 1863. 

Robert X. Shaw discharged on account of disability, 
November 29, 1862. 

Ransom G. Stowell discharged on account of disability. 
May 8, 1862. He subsequently served in the Fifty-third 

George M. Wetherbee discharged at expiration of term 
of service, August 30, 1864. 

James E. Whipple reenlisted. 

Charles H. White, musician, reenlisted. 

Frank B. Whitmore discharged at expiration of term of 
service, August 30, 1864. 

Merrick Whitney, Jr., discharged on account of disability, 
January 26, 1863. 

George W. Wilson discharged on account of disability, 
September 20, 1862. 

Waldo Dwinnell enlisted January 5, 1864, and was 
assigned to this company ; he was taken prisoner at the 
battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, and died in Ander- 
sonville Prison in September. 

Frank G. Kibling enlisted January 4, 1864, and died in 
hospital at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, February 22, 1864. 

Sylvester F. Oliver enlisted January 5, 1864, and was 


transferred to Thirty-sixth Regiment. He died January 29, 

Henry E. Thomas enlisted December 31, 1863, and was 
killed in battle of Cold Harbor, Jmie 2, 1864. 

Hosea Wallace enlisted July 23, 1862, and was discharged 
with the regiment, August 30, 1864. 

Lemuel Whitney enlisted in Company A of the same regi- 
ment, August 14, 1862, and was discharged with the regi- 
ment, August 30, 1864. 

James H. Willard was an original member of company H, 
and was discharged, August 30, 1864. 

Fernando C. L. W. Thayer enlisted in January, 1864, 
and was assigned to Company A. He was transferred with 
the veterans to the Thirty-sixth Regiment. 

While the regiment was in Tennessee in December, 1863, 
a large part of the men reenlisted for the war. The vet- 
erans were granted a furlough of thirty days and were per- 
mitted to visit their homes. AYhen the regiment was dis- 
missed at the expiration of term of service, the veterans were 
transferred to the Thirty-sixth Regiment. In this connection 
their continued service is stated. They remained with the 
army in Virginia until the regiment was disbanded at the 
expiration of term of service. They were then transferred to 
the Fifty-sixth Regiment and were honorably discharged with 
that regiment, July 12, 1865. The service was long and 
the record honorable. The veterans who counted twice on 
the quota of Ashburnham were, George E. Davis, Samuel 
C. Lesure, Lorenzo H. Gilbert, Charles Henry Pufier, 
George F. Puffer, Charles G. Lawrence, Erastus Mcintosh, 
Charles H. White, George W. Lawrence, Henry H. Martin- 
dale, James M. Garnet and James E. Whipple. 

Calvin Pindar enlisted on the quota of Ashburnham and 
reenlisted on quota of Clinton. Lyman F. Thurston of 


Holden, Luther E. Stewart of Clinton, Henry C. Perkins 
of Fitz William, New Hampshire, Frank Lumerzette of 
Holden and Timothy Donovan of Worcester, on reenlist- 
ment, were assigned on the quota of Ashburnham. The 
veterans who were credited to the quota of this town antici- 
pated a bounty which they did not receive. 

After the transfer to the Thirty-sixth Eegiment in 1864 
there were several casualties which have not been stated. 
Sylvester F. Oliver died January 29, 1865; Waldo Dwin- 
nell was taken prisoner at the battle of the Wilderness, May 
6, 1864, and died within the rebel lines in September fol- 
lowing ; Frank Lumerzette died of wounds, August 12, 
1864 ; Henry C. Perkins was transferred February 11, 1865, 
to the Veteran Reserve Corps, and James E. Whipple was 
discharged on account of disability, January 19, 1865. 

In the Twenty-first Regiment, associated with and one of 
the men of Ashburnham, was Colonel Joseph P. Rice. He 
early manifested a military spirit and ability to command. 
He had been an able and popular commander of the Ash- 
burnham Light Infantry, and at the outbreak of the war he 
was colonel of the Ninth Regiment of militia to which the 
Light Infantry belonged. In • this service he had enjoyed 
the respect and confidence of his associates. In the begin- 
ning of the war he early tendered the service of his command 
to the governor and was greatly disappointed that his regi- 
ment was not accepted. Ready to enter the service in any 
capacity he was commissioned a captain in the Twenty-first 
Regiment and assigned to the command of Company H. In 
Febmary following he was promoted to major and to lieu- 
tenant-colonel. May 16. He was a soldier in the best use 
of the term, and to bravery and courage he united manliness 
of character and orenuine kindness of heart. At the battle 
of Chantilly, September 1, 1862, while advancing beyond 



his command, to determine whether a force in his front were 
friends or enemies, he was shot through the body by a 
musket-ball and died instantly. The intelligence of his 
death was received with sudden grief and unfeigned expres- 
sions of personal sorrow. At a meeting of the town, 
November 4, 1862, the following resolutions were unani- 
mously adopted : 

Resolved^ That as citizens of Ashburnham we desire to express 
our deep sense of the loss we have sustained in the recent death 
of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph P. Rice at the battle of Chantilly, 
and our appreciation of the lasting obUgations under which we 
rest for the great service he has rendered us and his country in 
the time of need, and to show, as far as in us lies, a becoming 
respect for his memory. 

Resolved^ That in the death of Colonel Rice we mourn the loss 
of one who has been to us a friend and a townsman faithful to 
every delegated trust, discharging all the duties imposed upon him 
with a generous disregard of self and in such a manner as to 
entitle him to our warmest admiration and respect. 

The best and wisest laws that have governed and fostered 
civilization often have been the crystallization of some rule 
of action which the people practised by choice a long time 
before they were required to yield a willing obedience to 
statute. In the same manner an humble and subordinate 
officer in the discharge of duty in a limited field has often 
employed methods of procedure which subsequently have 
been grasped and dignified with the authority of a policy in 
the conduct of national afikirs. The oflScers of the army, who 
were the first to come into immediate contact with the institu- 
tion of slavery and the attending embarrassments, originated 
and early put in practice the liberal policy which was finally 
adopted by the Government. 


In the autumn of 1861, while the Twenty-first Regiment 
was in Maryland, in accordance with a practice then prevail- 
ing and encouraged in the army, the officers were expected 
to return to the owner any slave who might be found in their 
vicinity. Captain Walker, faithfully representing the senti- 
ment of the men from Ashburnham under his command, was 
the first officer who refused to perform this service. On an 
occasion when Captain Walker was officer of the day, the 
dignified personage of Governor Hicks applied to him for 
the recovery of a slave then within the lines of the regiment. 
The governor was met with a decided refusal, from which he 
appealed with effect to the colonel of the regiment. The 
colonel ordered Captain Walker to find and deliver the 
fugitive to the expectant owner. To this Captain Walker 
replied that he did not enter the service for an opportunity 
of hunting slaves and politely requested his superior officer 
to detail some other captain to perform this servile duty. 
Then every captain in the regiment was in turn detailed for 
this work and every one followed the example of Captain 
Walker. The negro finally escaped. Had the fortunes of 
this slave been less fortuitous, the events of the day were 
the harbinger of the freedom of his race. 

The large number already named, who entered the service 
in 1861, did not exhaust the patriotic impulse of the town. 
Immediately after the departure of Company G, Twenty- 
first Regiment, twenty men enlisted in Company F, Twenty- 
fifth Regiment. They were mustered into the service at 
Worcester in September and left for the seat of war, 
October 31, 1861. This organization has an excellent 
record. It was a part of the Burnside expedition and was 
retained in North Carolina until the decisive campaign in 
Virginia. It then participated in the battle of Cold Harbor 
and other engagements near Richmond. In October, 1864, 


the reenlisted veterans and the later recruits formed a bat- 
talion of four companies and remained in the service until 
July 13, 1865. Three recruits, credited on the quota of 
Ashburnham, subsequently were assigned to this regiment 
and will be named in later paragraphs. 

Frank A. Davis, Michael FitzGibbon, Francis H. Morton 
and Carlos P. Ward were veterans in this regiment. Davis 
and FitzGibbon were discharged at the close of the war in 
July, 1865. Morton was transferred to the Veteran Keserve 
Corps, and Ward, whose original enlistment was not credited 
to the quota of this town, died at Newbern, North Carolina, 
November 14, 1864. 

Corporal Augustus S. Rockwood, Corporal John A. 
Spaulding, Octavius W. Brown, Harvey Clark, Lincoln 
Wallace and Martin Burgess were discharged at expiration 
of term of service in October, 1864. Burgess was a member 
of Company I, and Rockwood was wounded. 

Stephen C. Hastings, musician, was honorably discharged 
August 30, 1862, at the reduction of the band, and Francis 
J. Barrett was killed at Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 3, 

The remaining eight were discharged on account of dis- 
ability as follows : Sergeant Oliver D. Wilder, March 12, 
1863 ; James L. Walker, Apiil 6, 1863 ; Luther Clark, 
March 12, 1863 ; Parley Mclntire, May 20, 1863 ; Orin 
Morton, January 31, 1863; Charles E. Smith, May 26, 
1862; Joshua T. Stowell, August 7, 1862, and Michael 
Thompson, April 27, 1863. 

In this regiment and in Company I, was Henry K. Samp- 
son who was originally credited on the quota of Royalston. 
He reenlisted on the quota of this town in January, 1864, 
and was discharged in July, 1865. 


The remaining enlistments, during the year 1861, included 
Samuel D. Holt who enlisted on the quota of Readville in 
the Twenty-fourth Regiment, December 4, 1861, and 
reenlisted on the quota of Ashburnham and was promoted 
corporal in January, 1864 ; he continued in the service 
until January, 1866 ; Bartholomew Coughlin, who enlisted 
December 6, in the Twenty-ninth Eegiment and died 1862 ; 
Pascal Brooks enlisted November 1, in Thirty-second Regi- 
ment and died October 1, 1862, at Sharpsburg, Maryland; 
Francis S. Willard enlisted November 1, in Thirty-second 
Regiment and died in Virginia, February 5, 1863 ; Leroy 
A. Howe enlisted November 6, in Thirty-second Regiment 
and w^as discharged on account of disability, November 29, 
1862 ; Charles F. Leathers, a veteran, enlisted November 4, 
in Thirty-second Regiment, promoted to corporal, reenlisted 
January 5, 1864, and was dismissed with his regiment, June 
29, 1865; Marcus L. Ward enlisted October 30, 1861, in 
Thirty-second Regiment and was discharged on account of 
disability, February 26, 1863 ; John Hare enlisted Novem- 
ber 7, 1861, Thirtieth Regiment, died at Ship Island, 
Mississippi, March 8, 1862; George G. Farwell enlisted 
November 2, 1861, on the quota of Fitchburg, in Thirty- 
second Regiment ; he reenlisted January 4, 1864, on quota 
of this town and was killed June 18, 1864. 

In 1862 there was a call for three hundred thousand men. 
The quota of Ashburnham was twenty-seven. In the 
Thirty-fourth Regiment, which left the State August 15, 
there w^ere five men from this town. They enlisted in July. 
Sergeant Charles Wood w^as promoted to second lieutenant. 
May 15, 1865, and discharged with his regiment; Walter 
O. Parker, musician, was discharged with his regiment, June 
16, 1865 ; Sumner W. Black died at Harper's Ferry, 
Virginia, November 10, 1863 ; Alfred Castle was discharged 


on account of disability, February 11, 1865, and Martin Y. 
B. Grimes was discharged on account of wounds, February 
16, 1865. 

The Thirty-sixth Kegiment was recruited in July and 
August and left the State September 2. This organization 
contained, at this time, twenty-three men from this town. 
It will be noted that a few of them were temporary residents 
at the date of enlistment. 

Of the twenty-three in this service, nine were honorably 
discharged with their regiment, June 8, 1865, as follows: 
Sergeant Charles W. Whitney promoted to second lieu- 
tenant, November 13, 1864, Sergeant George N. Duncan, 
Sergeant Charles I. Fish, Chester B. Gale, Francis H. 
Perkins, Frank S. Learned, John C. Lawrence, Cyrus W. 
Nickerson and Joseph Oaks. 

On account of disability the following six were discharged : 
Thomas H. Ryan, March 11, 1863; Sergeant Waldo A. 
Foster, May 30, 1863; Corporal John B. Harty, date 
unknown; John L. Finney, January 13, 1865; Mitchell 
Larby, no record; Edward Sibley, April 12, 1865. 

The individual record of the remainino- men is as follows : 
Sergeant Joseph Hames died of wounds, June 4, 1864 ; 
Corporal Frederick Biron died of wounds at Knoxville, 
Kentucky, January 11, 1864; Corporal Max Hoffman was 
killed at Petersburg, Virginia, June 17, 1864 ; Otis Metcalf 
and Edward B. Merriam were transferred to the Veteran 
Eeserve Corps ; Dennis Murphy reenlisted and was trans- 
ferred on the quota of Hardwick to the regular army ; 
Charles W. Allard was left in the hospital at Worcester and 
there died, September 15, a few days after the regiment 
left the State. The record of the remaining man from Ash- 
burnham is exceptional. Charles Sherbert deserted April 
27, 1863. 


The Thirty-sixth Regiment was an organization of good 
repute. In the army in Virginia, in Mississippi and the 
siege of Yicksburg and later in Virginia, in the closing yet 
sanguinary service of the war, it has left an honorable and 
gallant record. 

In the autumn of this year the Fifty- third Regiment was 
recruited under the call of the President for men to serve 
nine months. In this organization Ashburnham was repre- 
sented by twenty-seven officers and men. Of this regiment, 
George H. Barrett, who had been an officer of the Light 
Infantry, was lieutenant-colonel. The regiment was ordered 
to the South and rendered efficient service in Louisiana 
under General Banks. The organization was mustered out 
September 3, 1863. 

In this service four died of disease, one was killed in 
action and two were discharged on account of disability. 
Henry A. Marble died at Xew Orleans, May 19 ; Rinaldo 
Shattuck died May 8, at Brashear ; Stephen C. Whitney 
died February 20, at New Orleans ; James M. Woodell died 
June 7, at New Orleans; Russell Whipple was killed at 
Port Hudson, June 14 ; Corporal Orange E. Howe was dis- 
charged February 25 and William M. Young was discharged 
March 12, 18B3. The remaining twenty-one completed the 
term of enlistment and were returned to their homes in 
September, 1863 : Lieutenant-Colonel George H. Barrett, 
Sergeant William D. Capron, Corporal Spencer Frost, Cor- 
poral William Wallace, Corporal Ransom G. Stowell, 
Francis S. Balcom, Marshall H. Bourne, Aaron G. Buttrick, 
David M. Gushing, Edwin J. Cushing, Lewis Glazier, 
Thomas M. Howard, Charles B. Jones, James F. Lincoln, 
Horace O. Mansfield, Augustine May, Francis H. Merriam, 
Francis A. Munroe, Hobart W. Piper, Harvey J. Rice, 
Frederick R. Whipple. 


Colonel BtuTett was commissioned captain of Company I, 
and promoted to lieutenant-colonel, November 10. He was 
in command of the regiment at its departure from the State 
and remained in the service until the regiment was dis- 

These numerous enlistments filled the quota of 1862. At 
this time the town met and passed the following resolution : 

Resolved^ That we recognize the devotion and disinterested 
services of all our fellow-townsmen who have gone out from among 
us to engage in the service of the country, and that the town clerk 
be requested to collect and enter upon the town records the names 
of all our townsmen who have been or may hereafter be killed or 
otherwise lose their lives in the service of their country in putting 
down the present unholy rebellion. 

The generous impulse of the several towns which tendered 
temporary relief to the families of the soldiers w^as sustained 
and continued by the State and through the war the generous 
measures adopted by the Commonwealth were faithfully 
executed by the towns. The continued action of the citizens 
and of the town officers of Ashburnham was in full accord 
with a generous and comprehensive system of benevolence. 

The enlistments of 1861 and 1862 called a large propor- 
tion of the men of suitable age into the service. The quota 
of 1863 was filled with less alacrity and a draft was ordered. 
This peremptory demand for troops was general throughout 
the North, and Ashburnham shared with other towns a new 
experience of the war. Sixty-four men from this town were 
drafted. Of these a considerable number were discharo^ed 
on account of disability and of those held for service, several 
furnished substitutes or paid commutation. The names of 
those who entered the service in response to this imperative 
command will appear in the subsequent paragraphs in the 



list of those who entered the service. The names of the 
drafted men are as follows : 

John D. Hapgood 
Charles F. Rockwood 
George A. Stone 
Austin Brooks 
Granville B. Gilchrist 
Samuel E. Stone 
Albert F. Johnson 
Willard P. Drury 
William Dahymple 
Hiland Hall 
Orrin N. Bennett 
William Briggs 
Alexander Morse 
William W. Lane 
George L. Beals, Jr. 
Asahel Wheeler 
Earl Richel 
Merrick Hadley 
Nazzar Dane 
Charles W. Lane 
Stephen Sawin 
Edwin J. Russell 
Henry Pelky 
Jonas P. Sawin 
William Franklin 
Thomas Doolan 
WilUam L. G. Ward 
Alexander Grout 
Jesse W. Goodwin 
Hosea S. Whitney 
Charles H. Wallace 
Roduev Kins: 

Frankhn S. Oliver 
Osmore A. Brigham 
Timothy O'Keif 
Walter Lawrence 
Irving Brooks 
Jona. E. Goodwin 
David S. Brown 
Wendell P. Clark 
Frederick Wilder 
Benton Adams 
Robert N. Shaw 
Ed. W. Weston 
George F. Potter 
Joseph L. Brigham 
George G. Hadley 
Charles C. Eaton 
Orange S. May 
Martin B. Lane 
Patrick Mulchy 
John M. Baldwin 
Augustus G. Nutting 
Edward G. Newell 
Henry W. Ward 
Charles S. Keyes 
Fred M. Stanley 
Edwin A. Whitney 
Osman Casvant 
William C. Marea 
Mark Dunlap 
Theodore Barron 
Peter Sherbert 
Cyrus D. Horton 


The immediate effect of the draft was depressing. The 
gloomy days of the war and the season of discontent were 
during the spring and early summer of 1863. The 
spontaneous enthusiasm among the masses which attended 
the early progress of the war, reflecting the warm colors of 
hope and courage, began to wane and a general sentiment of 
depression was instant and pervading. Presently the victory 
at Grettysburg and the success of the army in the West in- 
vited the people to rally for the closing struggle. The firm 
command of General Grant and a unity of movement and 
purpose, which controlled the separate armies, restored the 
confidence and elicited an enthusiasm scarcely less exultant 
than that which thrilled the loyal North at the fall of Sumter. 
During these fluctuations in the general sentiment of the 
North, the people of Ashburnham, unmoved by the influences 
of the hour, maintained a record unstained by the shadow of 

The men who entered the service in 1863 were generally 
assigned to regiments already in the field and very few of 
them were in any one organization. In July Rodney King 
was assigned to the Nineteenth and transferred to the Twen- 
tieth Regiment ; John M. Baldwin was assigned to the Thirty- 
ninth and transferred to the Thirty-second Regiment ; John 
E. Valentine, a corporal, to the Fifteenth Regiment ; and 
John Fitzgerald to the Nineteenth and transferred to the 
Twentieth Regiment. These men remained in the service to 
the close of the war and were honorably discharged. 

In July and August the quota of the town was credited 
with the names of Charles Lepond, John Shafi'er, James 
Burke, Charles Wilson and Thomas Andrews. These were 
hired recruits and all of them deserted soon after, and to 
secure additional bounty, undoubtedly, they enlisted and 
deserted aoain before the close of the war. 


George F. Potter enlisted July 14 and was assigned to 
the Sixteenth Regiment. He was subsequently transferred 
to the Eleventh Regiment and was discharged in May, 1865. 
In the Second Regiment Heav}^ Artillery was Harvey P. 
Brooks and Edwin A. Pollard ; the former enlisted in July 
and served to the end of the war ; the latter enlisted in Octo- 
ber and died at Newbern, North Carolina, November 16, 

1864. Francis Sacket, who enlisted in November, was 
assigned to the Twenty-seventh Regiment and in January, 

1865, was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps. Pat- 
rick Doolan enlisted in December and served to the close 
of the war in the First Battery Light Artillery. John 
Cassidy enlisted in August in the Sixteenth and was trans- 
ferred to the Eleventh Regiment. He was discharged after 
a service of eighteen months on account of disability. 
Archibald McMahon enlisted December 25 and deserted from 
the Twenty-fifth Regiment after a service of eight weeks, 
and Theodore A. Dodge enlisted in the Veteran Reserve 
Corps in November. 

From January 1, 1864, to April 1, 1865, eighty-three 
enlistments were credited to the quota of Ashburnham. 
This number includes four entries into the Twenty-first 
Regiment, twenty-six reenlisted men and fifty-three new 
enlistments. A few of the men who entered the service 
during this period were hired recruits who received the 
bounty offered b}^ the town without reluctance or conscien- 
tious scruple, and with equal alacrity deserted at the first 
opportunity. Others were residents of this town and all of 
these earned an honorable record. In the following list will 
appear the names of several who had previously been honor- 
ably discharged from a former service. Unless otherwise 
stated all of the following were honorably discharged on 
account of expiration of term of service or at the close of the 



William S. White 
John Fre^ean 
Louis C. E. Coderre 
Morris Smeddy 

Dennis O'Neill 

Josiah Thomas 
Job Foster 
William Doolan 
James Kelley 
Frank B. Sawtelle 

Henry T. Lane 
Charles T, Chamberlain 

Charles L. Starkey 

Albert H. Tuckerman 

Hobart W. Piper 

Frank W, Bemis 
Irving Brooks 
Harlem E. Ward 

Alexander O'Brien 
Samuel A. Taylor 

Asahel Wheelei 

Joseph H. Whitney 

Oliver D. AVilder 
Theodore Greenwood 
Ebenezer Hart 
Frederick Hammond 
James Fargo 
William H. Smith 
George O. Whitney 
Joseph Hanwart 
Etiene Lechuga 
Sereno Newton 
Richard C. Chase 
David O. Williams 
Charles H. Whipple 
Walter C. Clark 

Harlem E. Ward 
Michael Horrigan 
George G. Hadley 
Isaac Call 
Michael Mulloy 


Jan. 4, 1864 

Jan. 18, 1864 

Jan. 5, 1864 

Jan. 29, 1864 
May 13, 1864 

June 2, 1864 
June 14, 1864 

June 14, 1864 
July 20,1864 

July 20,1864 

July 23, 1864 

Aug. 6,1864 

Aug. 6,1864 

Aug. 11, 1864 
Aug. 16, 1864 

Aug. 20, 1864 

Aug. 20, 1864 

Aug. 20, 1864 

Sept. 21, 1864 

Feb. 6, 1865 

Feb. 21, 1865 

Feb. 2, 1865 

Feb. 23, 1865 

Feb. 6, 1865 

Jan. 3, 1865 
Feb. 18, 1865 
June 28, 1864 
Aug. 29, 1864 
Aug. 27, 1864 


57th Regiment 

7th Regiment 

25th Regiment 

5th Cavalry 
19th Regiment 

2d H. A. 

2d H. A. 

60th Regiment 

5th Regiment 


29th Regiment 
4th H. A. 

4th H. A. 

4th H. A. 

4th H. A. 

30th Regiment 


2d Cavalry 

1st H. A. 
14th Artillery 
19th Regiment 

4th Cavalry 
19th Regiment 
V. R. C. 


Discharged July 30, 1865 
Died May 30, 1864 
Deserted April 1, 1864 
Transferred to 37th and to 
20th Regt.; discharged 
June 16, 1865 
Died In Rebel Prison Aug. 

6, 1864 
Discharged Oct. 1, 1865 
Discharged Mar. 25, 1865 
Discharged July 20, 1865 
Discharged June 30, 1865 
Discharged May 6, 1865. He 
had previously been in 
Regimental Band 20th 
Died Oct. 29, 1864 
100 days service; dischar'd 

Nov. 30, 1864 
100 days service ; dischar'd 

Nov. 30, 1864 
100 days service ; dischar'd 

Nov. 16, 1864 
Promoted corporal ; dis- 
charged Nov. 14, 1864. He 
formerly served in 53d' 
Discharged Nov. 14, 1864 

This name is repeated in 

a later service 

Discharged July 29, 1865 

Formerly a captain in 21st 
Regt. In this service he 
was a lieutenant ; resig'd 
March 8, 1865 

Formerly a captain in 21st 
Regt. He was commis- 
sioned a captain in this- 
service and assigned to 
the 61st Regt. Mustered 
out at expiration of term, 
of service 

This was his third enlist- 
ment. He was formerly 
a lieutenant in 21st Regt. 
Promoted in this service 
to sergeant-major, Dec. 1,. 
1864 ; discharged June 17, 

Discharged June 17, 1865 

Discharged July 5, 1866 

Discharged May 18, 1865 
Discharged July 20, 1865 
Deserted Oct. 4, 1865 
Discharged June 15, 1865 
Discharged Feb. 20, 1865, oa 

account of disability 
Discharged Aug. 12. 1865 
Discharged June 30, 1865 
Discharged Aug. 31, 1866 
Discharged Nov. 15, 1865 
Deserted Sept. 29, 1864 









James Walker 

Sept. 1,1864 

V. R. C. 

Discharged Nov. 14, 


Newton B. Whitman 

Sept. 2,1864 


No record 

William Pfaffle 

Feb. 20, 1865 


Charles W. Kendall 

Dec. 20, 1864 

Hancock Corps 

Michael Murphy 

Jan. 18,1865 


John E. AValiaut 



John Rebel 

Feb. 6, 1865 

N.C. Regiment 

William G. Davenport 

Sept. 14, 1864 

U. S. A. 

George H. Litch 

Nov. 11, 1864 


Charles W. Brigham 

Mar. 2,1865 


Francis E. Brigham 

Mar. 3, 1865 


William Butler 

Feb. 4,1865 


In the midst of the later enlistments and accounting 
for a few of them the following persons were drafted May 
16, 18(34 : Patrick O'Brien, Martin N. Ward, Thomas Ham- 
mond, Thomas Mahan, Amos F. Willard, Patrick J. Hare, 
Timothy A. Tenney, Merrick Hadley, George A. Stone, 
Job Foster, Orange S. Whitmore, Hezekiah Matthews, 
Joseph L. Brigham, Frederick Pelky, George G. Kockwood, 
Aaron Rice, William Doolan and Hartwell Tenney. No 
official statement of the several quotas of this town has been 
found and the records of the town afford no information. 
The number of enlistments in 1861 was eighty-five ; in 1862 
fifty-seven; in 1863 eighteen and in 1864 and the early 
months of 1865, including the veterans, there were eighty- 
three enlistments, making an aggregate of two hundred and 
forty-three entries in the service from this town during the 
war. The whole number of individuals who entered the 
service from Ashburnham, so far as found in this record, is 
two hundred and thirteen. Joseph H. Whitney is credited 
with three enlistments and the following persons were 
counted twice upon the quota of the town : Charles H. 
Heald, Martin V. B. Grimes, Charles W. Kendall, Francis 
Sacket, Augustus Mcintosh, Samuel A. Taylor, Asahel 
Wheeler, George E. Davis, Samuel C. Lesure, Lorenzo H. 
Gilbert, Charles G. Lawrence, George W. Lawrence, 


Charles H. Puifer, George F. Puffer, Henry H. Martindale, 
Charles H. White, Erastus Mcintosh, James M. Garnet, 
George G. Hadley, Ransom G. Stowell, James E. Whipple, 
Prank A. Davis, Michael FitzGibbon, Francis H. Morton, 
Oliver D. Wilder, Charles F. Leathers, Hobart W. Piper, 
Harlem E. Ward. 

Several, who were residents of Ashburnham at the time 
they entered the service, enlisted on the quota and their 
names appear in the records of other towns. It is not pre- 
sumed that the following list is complete . 

Noyes B. Herrick, Clarence D. Proctor and Alden W. 
Parker, on the quota of Fitchburg, served in the Fourth 
Regiment Heavy Artillery from August 20, 1864, to June 
17, 1865. 

Lieutenant George M. Munroe, on the quota of Boston, 
was an original member of Company G, Twenty-first Regi- 
ment. He was promoted from first sergeant to second lieu- 
tenant, September 26, 1862, and to first lieutenant, March 
3, 1863. At the battle of Antietam, after Lieutenant 
Charles H. Parker was removed from the field on account of 
wounds, he assumed command of the company and was 
wounded in the knee and the arm. 

Charles L. Stimson was in Company E, Twenty-fourth 
Regiment, on the quota of Boston. He was detailed as 
military secretary to General Burnside and subsequently was 
commissioned a lieutenant in the First Ohio Cavalry. 

George Henry Stearns, credited to Bridgewater, was a 
member of the Brigade Band, Twentieth Army Corps. 

William H. Richardson, Otis Pratt and Aaron Pratt 
served in Rhode Island regiments. 

Aaron B. Bixby enlisted from Fitchburg in Company A, 
Thirty-sixth Regiment, and was transferred in September, 
1863, to the Veteran Reserve Corps. 


Corporal Charles M. Whitney, assigned to quota of Fitch- 
barg, was a member of Company D, Twenty-first Regiment. 
He was killed September 1, 1862, at the battle of Chantilly. 

Ephraim W. Moore enlisted from Boston in Company F, 
Second Regiment. He died August 20, 18.62, from wounds 
received in the engagement of Cedar Mountain. 

Newton Brooks, on the quota of Gardner, was a member 
of Company G, Fifty-third Regiment. 

Patrick Fitzgerald, there known as »James Fitz, was a 
member of Compan}^ K, Sixth Xew Hampshire Regiment. 
He served from November, 1861, to July 17, 1865. 

Webster W. Wallace, on the quota of Lawrence, enlisted 
in First Regiment Heavy Artillery, August 1, 1861. He 
was promoted a sergeant and died of wounds, July 26, 

In other regiments are found the names of Henry Men-iam, 
George Willard, Charles Stone, John L. Cook, Reuben A. 
Buzzell, George O. Metcalf and George P. Ward. 

A large number of the sons of Ashburnham who removed 
from their native town previous to the war were in the 
service and several were officers of rank and distinction. So 
far as the facts are ascertained, a record of service will be 
given in the family registers. 





Physicians. — Ashburnham has been fortunate in the 
character and ability of the resident physicians. The follow- 
ing list includes several men of superior skill and professional 

Dr. Peter Brooks was the first physician of Ashburn- 
ham, and during the greater part of his practice here he had 
no competitor. Dr. Senter was here a short time, but his 
practice was not of sufficient duration to disturb him in the 
full possession of the field which he held until the arrival of 
Dr. Lowe. Dr. Brooks lived on the old Winchendon road, 
between the common and the David Russell farm. About 
1792 he left town and nothing is known of his subsequent 
history. His family remained permanently and his descend- 
ants in this town have been numerous. Of the native ability 
and professional skill of Dr. Brooks little is known. From 
the fact that he remained here twenty years it is reasonable 



to presume that he enjoyed some measure of public confi- 

Dr. Senter was here a short time immediately preceding 
the Revolution. In 1774 he was chosen one of a committee 
to amend the Boston Covenant before it was signed, but his 
name does not appear again in the records. Tradition pre- 
serves his name and compliments him with good ability and 
a liberal education. His stay was brief and his connection 
with this town unimportant. 

Dr. Abraham Low^e, son of Jonathan and Sarah (Per- 
kins) Lowe, was born in Ipswich, February 11, 1755. The 
homestead of his Either was in the parish of Chebacco, and 
is now a part of the town of Essex. In his infancy the 
family removed to Lunenburg. If Dr. Lowe did not pursue 
a liberal course of academical study at the schools he was a 
close and attentive reader and an accurate scholar. His 
professional studies were pursued under the tuition of Dr. 
Abraham Haskell, a justly famed physician of Lunenburg. 
At this time Dr. Lowe became acquainted with Dr. Peter 
Snow, who was a fellow-student, and subsequently a dis- 
tinguished physician and esteemed citizen of Fitchburg. 
The acquaintance ripened into a mutual friendship which was 
sustained through life. In 1786, or the year preceding, Dr. 
Lowe removed to Ashburnham and here began the labor of 
a long: and useful life. In an eminent des^ree he was trusted 
as a physician and esteemed as a citizen. He was frequently 
chosen to positions of trust and in professional employment 
he had no rival for many years. Among his minor employ- 
ments Dr. Lowe was town clerk seven years, transcribing 
the records in a clear hand and in well-chosen language. 
But for municipal service he found little leisure. His active 
years were devoted to his profession and few physicians have 
practised with less criticism and greater success. Among 



his fellow-men he was accorded a supremacy which is only 
surrendered to superior abilities and unchallenged character. 
The aged who remember him are familiar with the courtesy 
of his manner, the kindness of his heart and the impress of 
truth and wisdom which attended his speech. He died 
October 23, 1834. 

Dr. Abraham T. Lowe, a son of Dr. Abraham Lowe 
and Charlotte (Hale) Lowe, was born in this town, August 
15, 1796. The influences of his home invited study, and 
at an early age he attended the academy in New Ipswich, 
and at twenty years of age he was graduated a Doctor of 
Medicine at Dartmouth Medical College. At the solicita- 
tion of his father he commenced practice in this town where 
he was successfully employed nine years. His circuit ex- 
tended into Westminster and other adjoining towns. Of his 
professional labors at this time Dr. Lowe has said, "My 
duties called me, I believe, almost without exception, into 
every house and family in town. I knew the direction and 
condition of every road, bridle path and passable cross-cut 
way. I never, while in health, declined a professional visit. 
I rode on horseback, in a light- wheel carriage, or sleigh, to 
meet the requirements of the season or state of the travelled 
ways ; but there were times when travelling in either of 
these modes was impracticable ; then I took to my rackets, 
or Indian snow-shoes ; and I have frequently in this manner 
made visits, both in and out of town." 

In the midst of this arduous, professional employment 
Dr. Lowe took an active interest in the schools of this town 
and was a member of the committee of supervision. He 
was popular with all classes and is held in grateful remem- 
brance by the aged who were his associates. In 1825 or 
1826 he removed to Boston and engaged in the business of 
a wholesale and prescription druggist. In this business he 
was successful and retired with a competency in 1839. 

^^ "^B^^ 



Dr. Lowe has been a director in several monetary institu- 
tions and in this direction his service has been conspicuous. 
In 1859 he was chosen president of the Safety Fund Bank 
which subsequently became the First National Bank of 
Boston, and under his sagacious management this institution 
has maintained a prominent position among its energetic 
rivals. Dr. Lowe was an able advocate, and was promi- 
nently identified with the construction of the Boston and 
Lowell railroad. At that date many regarded the project as 
experimental, but the substantial results are a tribute to the 
foresight and judgment of Dr. Lowe and his associates. He 
was one of the early directors of the road from Worcester to 
Albany and for several years a director of the Boston and 
Worcester railroad and also the Fall River railroad. He 
early and clearly comprehended the importance of these 
gigantic enterprises and with energy and courage he labored 
for the future interests of his city and Commonwealth. 

In addition to efficient service for the public schools of 
Boston, he has repeatedly served in the Board of Aldermen, 
and beginning in 1824, he has been a member of the Massa- 
chusetts Legislature several years. In this service he 
disclosed the rare traits of mind and of character which 
distinguish his successful career in business. 

In early life Dr. Lowe compiled the Columbian Orator, a 
school-book which was favorably received, and subsequently 
he published the Second- Class Book, for younger pupils ; 
but he is better known as the author of several papers upon 
scientific and medical subjects. He is one of the original 
trustees of Cushing Academy and during the past ten years 
he has been president of the board. 

Dr. Lowe at the age of almost ninety years has earned a 
respite from active employment. Without ambition or 
ostentation he has conscientiously met every responsibility 


and faithfully directed every interest confided to his care. 
His industry, his integrity and his purity of character, which 
attended him through life, now crown his age with blessings 
and honor. 

Dr. Nathaniel Peirce, a son of Oliver and Mary 
(Smith) Peirce, was born in Lunenburg, October 8, 1778. 
He pursued his preparatory studies at New Ipswich Academy 
and was a teacher in the public schools several years. He 
entered Harvard University, but on account of failing health 
did not graduate. Later he pursued a course of professional 
study and received his diploma at the Medical School, then 
in Weathersfield, Vermont, and in that town he practised a 
short time. Leaving Weathersfield he removed to his native 
town where he was engaged in the manufacture of wool or 
felt hats, at that time one of the home industries of New 
England. He removed to this town in 1825 and immediately 
entered upon the practice of his profession. From the first 
he secured and maintained the confidence of the people and 
for many years his practice was large and remunerative. In 
the mean time he purchased many acres of land and became 
a prosperous farmer, and as the infirmities of age invited 
him to less active pursuits he gradually retired from practice 
and gave his attention to the supervision of his farm. 

A tall, commanding man, his head towering above the 
multitude, he was dignified in manner and deliberate in the 
use of words. In method he was direct and aggressive, and 
if he was sometimes blunt in his speech he was generally 
just. His opinions were well matured and when required 
they were expressed without evasion or concealment. If he 
honestly difiered with others in opinion and expressed his 
own views plainly, he tolerated no contention and conducted 
no quarrels. He was a kind neighbor, an honest man and a 
faithful citizen. He was frequently chosen by his townsmen 


:57>^ A/, 



10 locai omce i:< 

•liiDcr 01 liio hiOgi 

and. 1832. He 

^-v3, 1862. 

Dr. Otis Ap! 

\ve of Deerfield and a grad- 

uate of the 

Ashburnham in 

1^^:11 . He wa^ , 

hosen v. 

of the >sohool o( 

Vval. At thj.^ 

the field was oc,^ . . 

the" profession 

had become established 

• of the people. 

1829 he removed to Fit<'ld3ur^. nccessful prar < 

of nine years, O; 


business and remjv _ i 

lie died Janu 

24, 1851, aged foity-.,; 

Dr. William H 


(Hutchins) Cut! 


2, 1787 

field he pursuea iiic ji 

Hutchins of M.n">^'.-1 

labors weiie 

- • 

years. In 1825' 

successfully employ- 

In Winchendon he 

bCilOGl ' 

1819 and in New ^ 

. 'choseit .^ 

of trust, anion :^ 

'y year?: cr 

trustees of the 

; : 

Cutler rode a wid< 

•yarded as a consc 

• Uil piiysici.; 

be was upright , si i j . - . 

. V. .,v>nest, and y 

f^steem. As the infu-mities of age grew up< 

a active practice and removed in 1864 t 

lied July 16, Wr: . 

Vn. William P. Stoxe, .sou ot . >avia 

kin") >^tone and a br' ' ' • • f" ^^-^v. Benjamir* 

iar > .>i Concord, I\ lire, was • 


to local office and was a member of the Legislature 1831 
and 1832. He died September 3, 1862. 

De. Otis Abercrombie, a native of Deei-field and a grad- 
uate of the Yale Medical School, came to Ashburnham in 
1827. He was favorably received and was chosen a member 
of the school committee soon after his arrival. At this time 
the field was occupied by members of the profession who 
had become established in the confidence of the people. In 
1829 he removed to Fitchburg. After a successful practice 
of nine years, on account of failing health, he retired from 
business and removed to Lunenburg where he died January 
24, 1851, aged forty-nine years. 

Dr. William H. Cutler, son of Jonathan and Keziah 
(Hutchins) Cutler, was born in Plainfield, Connecticut, July 
2, 1787. After attending school at the academy in Plain- 
field he pursued his professional studies with Dr. Darius 
Hutchins of Abington, Connecticut. His first professional 
labors were in Winchendon where he practised about seven 
years. In 1820 he removed to I^ew Salem and was there 
successfully employed until he removed to this town in 1829. 
In Winchendon he was a member of the school committee in 
1819 and in New Salem he was frequently chosen to positions 
of trust, among which he was for many years one of the 
trustees of the New Salem Academy. In this town Dr. 
Cutler rode a wide circuit many years and was justly re- 
garded as a conscientious, skilful physician, xls a man, 
he was upright, sincere and honest, and was held in high 
esteem. As the infirmities of age grew upon him he retired 
from active practice and removed in 1864 to Andover where 
he died July 16, 1867. 

Dr. William P. Stone, son of David and Lydia (Per- 
kins) Stone and a brother of Rev. Benjamin P. Stone, D. D., 
late of Concord, New Hampshire, was born in Reading, 


Vermont, July 23, 1809. A few years after this date 
the family removed from Eeading to Enosburg, Vermont. 
Dr. Stone graduated at Dartmouth Medical School in 1835 
and came to this town in 1837, where he was successfully 
employed eight years. From the first he was well received. 
Beneath a modest and unassuming manner, there was no 
failure in the discovery of an intelligent mind and a faithful 
and competent physician. He had many friends and no 
enemies. In the spring of 1845 he removed to Boston and 
previous to 1850 he removed to Danbury, New Hampshire, 
where he remained several years. In October, 1862, he 
was commissioned assistant surgeon of the Second New 
Hampshire Volunteers, and was promoted to surgeon of this 
regiment, July 6, 1864. He remained in the service until 
the regiment was mustered out, December 19, 1865. Soon 
after the war he removed from Danbury to Westminster, 
Vermont, where he continued the practice of his profession 
a few years. He died in Burke, New York, 1872. 

Dr. Alfred Miller, son of John and Betsey (Kobinson) 
Miller, was born in Westminster, Vermont, March 15, 1815. 
He pursued his preparatory studies in the schools of West- 
minster and Bernard ston and graduated at Middlebury 
College 1840. While reading for his profession he taught 
school several years and completed his study with Dr. 
Alfred Hitchcock and at the Medical School in Woodstock, 
Vermont, where he graduated in 1844. In the following 
year he entered upon the practice of his profession in this 
town where he was successfully employed until he removed 
to Fitchburg in 1863. 

He was a skilful physician and was highly respected by 
all who knew him. Affable and kind in his manner, atten- 
tive to the calls of his profession, he was a popular physician 
and a valued citizen. Dr. Miller was repeatedly elected a 


member of the school committee and to other positions of 
trust. In Fitchburg he was eminently successful. He con- 
tinued in active practice in that city until his death, Novem- 
ber 15, 1877, aged sixty-two years. He was a member of 
the Legislature 1866 and 1876. 

Dr. Merrick Wallace, a son of Nahum Wallace of 
Oxford, was born April 12, 1808. In 1847 he completed a 
course of study at the Botanical Medical College then in 
Worcester, and to this school of medicine he closely adhered 
in his practice. His remedial methods were then compara- 
tively new and he early secured a liberal patronage. His 
practice extended into the adjoining towns and frequently he 
made long journeys in response to demands for his profes- 
sional attendance. Dr. Wallace was also a successful farmer 
and in this pursuit he manifested a constant interest. He 
died May 22, 1875. 

Dr. Lorenzo Locke Whitmore, a son of Colonel Enoch 
and Clarissa (Willard) Whitmore, was born in this town, 
July 2, 1823. With the exception of Dr. Abraham T. 
Lowe, he is the only physician in this town who was born 
within the field of his professional labor. He pursued a 
liberal course of academical and professional study, gradu- 
ating at the Harvard Medical School in the class of 1852. 
After a brief practice in Warwick, he returned to this town 
and assumed the management of a large farm which for more 
than one hundred years has been the homestead of his 
ancestors. For several years he rode an extended circuit in 
this town and in Rindge, and fully maintained the confidence 
of his patrons. More recently he has found full employ- 
ment in the management of his farm. 

Dr. John Orlando Mattoon (eclectic) was a native of 
Vershire, Vermont, born October 10, 1837. He was 
educated at the academy in Chelsea, Vermont, and the 


well-known institution in New London, New, Hampshire. 
He read for his profession with Dr. George K. Bagley of 
Chelsea, Vermont, and graduated at a medical school in 
Cincinnati in 1858. The same year he located in this town 
and practised with a fair measure of success until his early 
death which occurred January 13, 1862. 

Dr. Theron Temple, son of John and Sally (Taylor) 
Temple, was born in Heath, April 20, 1833. He is a gradu- 
ate of Berkshire Medical College in class of 1856. In 1857 
. he entered upon the practice of his profession in Belchertown 
and was there successfully employed until 1861, when he 
was commissioned assistant-surgeon in the Twenty-fifth 
Massachusetts Volunteers. This regiment was assigned to 
the Burnside expedition. In this service Dr. Temple con- 
tracted malarial fever and resigned in the spring of 1862. 
The same year he removed to this town where he commanded 
the respect of the community and secured a lucrative prac- 
tice. While residing in this town he was examining surgeon 
by appointment from Governor Andrew. In the autumn of 
1864, he removed to Amherst and continued in active prac- 
tice until 1875. During the past ten years he has been 
employed in the customs service at Boston with a residence 
in Waltham. 

Dr. Harvey D. Jillson (eclectic) pursued his pro- 
fessional studies at Harvard Medical School and at Worces- 
ter. Adopting the theories of the eclectic school, he 
entered upon the practice of his profession in Leominster in 
1860. He removed to this town in 1864. He was elected 
a member of the school committee for three years but 
removed to Fitch burg in 1868 before the completion of the 
term. For two years he was president of the Worcester 
North Eclectic Society, and eleven years its secretary, and 
was a vice-president of the National Eclectic Medical Society. 


He died September 25, 1877, aged forty-three years. 

De. Chaeles L. Pieece, son of John F. and Abigail 
Fiske Pierce, was born in Derby, Vermont, May 17, 1840. 
He attended school at Newbury, Vermont, and at Meriden, 
New Hampshire, and graduated at the New York College of 
Physicians and Surgeons. He practised his profession a 
short time at Charlestown, New Hampshire, and removed to 
this town in 1865. Dr. Pierce was generally regarded as a 
skilful physician and was employed by a considerable part 
of the community. He removed to Natick in 1871, and 
from thence to San Francisco, California, where he died 
May 11, 1885. 

Dr. Alonzo Lawrence Stickney, son of Alvah and 
Rebecca (Wright) Stickney, was born in Townsend, May 
26, 1835. He attended the academies at Milford and New 
Ipswich, New Hampshire, and graduated at Harvard 
Medical School in the class of 1862. His first professional 
labors were at Sutton. In the spring of 1864 he was 
appointed assistant-surgeon in the regular army and served 
to the close of the war. Returning to Sutton he was there 
successfully eijiployed in the practice of his profession until 
his removal to this town in 1871. In an unusual degree, he 
early secured and has merited the confidence of his patrons. 
His success as a physician and his usefulness as a citizen will 
elicit prompt recognition in future reviews of completed 

De. Amoey Jewett, son of Amory and Lucy E. (Die- 
waide) Jewett, was born in Boston, January 17, 1833. He 
attended the public schools of Boston and graduated at the 
Eclectic Medical College, Cincinnati, Ohio. After a brief 
practice in Boston, he removed to this town in 1868 and 
remained in successful practice until 1873. Since he re- 
moved from this town he has practised in Clinton, Fitchburg 


and Hubbardston. On account of failing health he has retired 
from active practice and now resides in Somerville. Dr. 
Jewett, while residing in this town, was successively secre- 
tary, councillor and president of the Worcester North 
Eclectic Medical Society. 

Dr. Nathaniel Jewett, a brother of Dr. Amory Jewett, 
was born in Boston, March 10, 1841. He graduated at the 
Boston High School in 1858 and pursued a course of pro- 
fessional study under private tuition. He graduated at the 
Boston Dental College 1869, and at the New York Eclectic 
College 1871. In the mean time Dr. Jewett attended 
lectures at Harvard Medical School and at the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons, New York. He removed to this 
town in 1871 and has maintained a lucrative practice to the 
present time. He has been president of the Worcester 
North Eclectic Medical Society, and for many years the 
secretary and treasurer. He has been councillor and presi- 
dent of the Massachusetts Eclectic Medical Society and is a 
member of the National Eclectic Medical Association. Dr. 
Jewett is the eighteenth resident physician who has practised 
in this town and among this number none Jias been more 
constantly employed. 

Dr. Charles Knowlton was here a few months in the 
autumn and winter of 1830-31. 

Dr. Miles Spaulding, now of Groton, practised in this 
town from April to September, 1845, supplying the time 
between the practice of Dr. Stone and- Dr. Miller. 

Dr. John Petts, who resided in this town for many 
years, was a i)hysician, but he did not engage in practice 
after he removed to Ashburnham. 

Lawyers. — Of the four resident lawyers of this town 
only one remained any considerable length of time. If the 
good people of Ashburnham have not been wholly free from 



strife and contention, they have seldom appealed to the 
courts for arbitration. And in some instances it is possible 
the contestants have found more entertainment in a continued 
prosecution of some domestic quarrel than could be realized 
in any possible terms of legal adjustment. 

Ephraim May Cuxnixgham, Esq., practised law in this 
town from about 1818 to 1824. He removed to South 
Reading, now Wakefield. While in this town he boarded 
with the Jewetts, and by tradition he is furnished with the 
credentials of a good character and respectable abilities. 

Henry Adams, Esq., came to this town in 1825, or early 
in 1826, and remained four or five years. He was a man of 
fair abilities and met with a reasonable measure of success. 

George G. Parker, Esq., was born in Coventry, 
Connecticut, May 10, 1800, and was graduated at Yale in 
the class of 1828. He pursued his professional studies in 
the office of Myron Lawrence, Esq., of Belchertown, and 
began the practice of law in this town in 1831. He was 
quite deaf and labored under great embarrassment, yet he 
was successful and was highly esteemed by the profession 
and by his townsmen. He served two years in the supervi- 
sion of the public schools and for many years he was a mem- 
ber of the board of selectmen. In 1840 and 1841 he ably 
represented the town in the Legislature. He died Decem- 
ber 14, 1852. 

Albert Haynes Andrews, Esq., son of Jeremiah and 
Abigail Anna (Haynes) Andrews, was born in Waltham, 
December 29, 1829. He attended the schools in Ashby and 
Fitchburg and the Academy at Westminster, and pursued 
his professional studies in the office of Judge Thornton K. 
Ware of Fitchburg. He was admitted to the Worcester 
county bar in 1856. With a view of entering upon the 
practice of law in the West, Mr. Andrews went to Chicago 


and there becoming interested in the controversy attending 
the political situation of Kansas he raised a company of sixty 
men and hastened to the relief of the Free State party in this 
memorable conflict. Returning to the East he entered upon 
the practice of law in this town in the autumn of 1857. He 
was the fourth and last resident lawyer in Ashburnham*. 

While a resident of this town he was a member of the 
school committee and in 1860 and 1861 he represented this 
district in the Legislature, and was adjutant of the Mnth 
Regiment of Militia, then under command of Colonel Joseph 
P. Rice. In May, 1861, Mr. Andrew^s was commissioned a 
first lieutenant in the regular army and assigned to the 
Nineteenth Infantry. He continued in the service about 
nine years and during this time he was in fact a citizen of 
Ashburnham. For gallant and meritorious service at the 
battle of Shiloh he was breveted captain and at Stone River 
he won the brevet rank of major. In the autumn of 1863 
Major Andrews was ordered North on recruiting service. 
After enlisting two hundred and sixty-five men he remained 
with his regiment in Tennessee and Georgia until the sur- 
render of the Confederate army. Subsequently, Major 
Andrews was with his regiment in Arkansas and Louisiana 
until he resigned January 1, 1870. During this time he was 
commandant of military posts much of the time and was 
frequently assigned to important trusts. 

During the past seventeen years Major Andrews has 
resided in Fitchburg, in Kansas and in San Francisco, Cali- 
fornia, and since November, 1879, he has been Inspector of 
Customs at Boston. In a life of diversified employment, 
Major Andrews has been faithful and efficient in the dis- 
charge of duty and has commanded the respect and confi- 
dence of his associates. 


Deacon Samuel Wilder was born in Lancaster, May 7, 
1739. He was a son of Colonel Caleb Wilder and a grand- 
son of Judge Joseph Wilder. Colonel Caleb Wilder owned 
many acres of land in Dorchester Canada and was much 
emplo^^ed in forwarding the settlement. His name frequently 
appears in the records of the proprietors, but he never re- 
sided in this town. Samuel Wilder settled here previous to 
1765. At the first town meeting under the act of incorpora- 
tion, March 25, 1765, he was chosen collector of the land 
tax. Before the close of the year he temporarily removed 
from the town and in November following Samuel Nichols 
was chosen in place of Mr. Wilder who was, as the record 
asserts, " out of the province." He soon returned and in 
1767 he was a selectman and received other mention in the 
proceedings of the meetings. From this date he resided in 
Ashburnham continuously until his death. In early life he 
was a captain in the colonial militia, but he was never honored 
with the title after he was chosen a deacon. The records 
assert his popularity and the unlimited confidence of his 
townsmen. He was several years a member of the General 
Court ; was the town clerk twenty-two years, a selectman 
fifteen years and an assessor twenty years. In addition to 
this extended service he was frequently chosen on important 
committees and in every emergency his service was invoked. 
For many years he was justice of the peace and in his time 
few legal papers were executed in this town which did not 
bear his familiar signature. 

The advancement of Mr. Wilder was attended by no for- 
tuitous circumstances. His honors were merited and his 
position among his townsmen was the voice of mature senti- 
ment. If not brilliant, his qualities were solid, and if he did 
not win the applause of his fellow-men, he enjoyed in an 
unusual degree their trust and confidence. At fifty-nine 
years of age he died suddenly May 9, 1798, but he lived 


until Joseph Jewett had been advanced to his assistance in 
town affairs. Leaving his mantle, like the prophet of old, 
upon the shoulders of his successor, he closed a record full 
of honor and unstained with an ignoble deed. 

Joseph Jewett, son of Edward and Sarah Jewett, was 
born in Stow, May 10, 1761. The family had previously 
resided in Concord, where some of the older children were 
born and subsequently removed to Bolton. Deacon Edward 
Jewett, a man of superior ability and a prominent citizen of 
Eindge, was an older brother. After serving in the Revolu- 
tion, of which mention is made in another chapter, Joseph 
Jewett removed to this town in 1783. He Avas a merchant 
and a farmer and for many years the leading business man in 
the place ; but in other employments he was even more in- 
timately identified with the town's history. In this con- 
nection his record as a citizen, and the sterling qualities of 
his character demand more than a passing notice. At the 
age of twenty-two years he entered upon the scene of his 
future activity and immediately the town recognized the 
qualities of the man. The proof of his popularity and the 
measure of the confidence reposed in him are witnessed by 
the records. He was a member of the board of selectmen 
fifteen years, an assessor fifteen years, town clerk eighteen 
years and was ten times chosen to preside over the annual 
March meeting. 

In the midst of these accumulating honors and responsi- 
bilities he was a member of the Legislature seven years and 
was frequently chosen to serve on committees and render 
other service to the town. But no numerical statement of 
his oflScial service will fairly express the measure of confi- 
dence reposed in him, or the unanimity in which he was 
called to these posts of duty. In military aflfairs he evinced 
a lively interest. Tradition asserts he was the first captain 
of the Ashburnham Light Infantry. It is certain that he 


commanded a company in this town as early as 1789 and was 
commissioned a captain of the independent company in this 
town, July 12, 1791, and the following year was promoted 
to major. He was lieutenant-colonel in 1795 and colonel 
of the regiment, to which the Ashburnham companies 
belonged, in 1796. For many years he was a justice of the 
peace and was frequently called upon to act in this capacity. 
A rear room in the store building was styled the court-room 
and there many official papers were executed and many 
minor suits were adjudicated. 

In these outlines of a life work, if other evidence failed, 
there would remain the inference of capacity, honesty and a 
measure of urbanity through which his fellow-men cleariy 
recognized these sterling qualities. 

In civil affairs Joseph Jewett is the most conspicuous per- 
sonage in the town's history. He was the oracle of his time 
and an autocrat among his townsmen, yet his ambition wa& 
limited and he wisely exercised authority when thrust upon 
him. The aged who remember Mr, Jewett are united in the 
testimony that he was a man of rigid integrity, — that the 
distinguishing qualities of his mind were an intuitive per- 
ception and a sound judgment, and that he was kind and 
considerate to his fellow-men. He died May 3, 1846. 

General Ivees Jewett, a son of Colonel Joseph Jewett, 
was born in this town. May 7, 1788. His record as a mer- 
chant in his native town has been stated in another chapter. 
In 1827 he removed to Fitchburg and was interested in 
several manufacturing and other enterprises. Many of the 
business ventures which he forwarded with enthusiasm and 
supported with his money and credit were unfortunate for 
him and his friends. General Jewett was of buoyant, ardent 
temperament, of attractive, personal appearance and com- 
manding presence. He was affable, kind-hearted and gener- 
ous. Popularity was his birthright and the record of his 


early life is attractive and inspiriting. At thirty -four years 
of age he had risen from the ranks of the Ashburnham Light 
Infantry to the rank of a general of the State Militia. At 
every step in this rapid transition he had been an efficient 
and popular officer. He had been a successful merchant and 
had enlarged the business established by his father. He had 
been employed in town affiiirs and had exercised unusual 
sway and command among his fellow-men. 

Few men at this age and in a rural community of limited 
population have made a more brilliant record. In mental 
capacity, in fitness to lead and ability to command among 
men and aptitude in the routine transaction of business, he 
resembled his father in an eminent degree. In boldness of 
conception, in power to persuade and in originality of project 
he was his superior ; but in ripeness of judgment, in pru- 
dence and caution, he failed at the threshold of his father's 
success. Of his later life little is known. He removed to 
the South and there accumulated a handsome property which 
was swept away by the fortunes of war during the Kebell'ion. 
He died at Mobile, Alabama, April 26, 1871. 

The Willards. — The brothers Deacon John and Jacob 
Willard removed from Harvard 1768. They were men of 
ability and occupied prominent positions in public affairs. 
Deacon Willard died July 4, 1793, having been in feeble 
health for several years. He was a man of most estimable 
character and was highly respected. Had he been sustained 
by health it is probable that very few in the history of the 
town would have been more conspicuous. 

Jacob Willard was a strong, aggressive character. His 
services in behalf of good government during the disturb- 
ances succeeding the Revolution, and especially during the 
excitement attending the revolt of Daniel Shays, were instant 
and effective. He was a delegate to the Law and Order 


Conventions held at that time, and was a firm supporter of 
the Government. He was a representative to the first 
Legislature convened under the Constitution of the State, 
and was four times elected subsequently. His name fre- 
quently appears in the list of town officers in another chap- 
ter, and few men have exercised a stronger or more salutary 
influence in town affairs. He died February 22, 1808. 

Silas Willard, Esq., son of Deacon John Willard, was 
another prominent citizen of this town. In 1820 he was a 
member of the Constitutional Convention and was frequently 
chosen to positions of trust. For twenty-eight years he was 
a justice of the peace and through a long life he commanded 
the esteem and respect of all who knew him. He died June 
14, 1855. 

JoHX Adams, son of Captain Thomas and Lydia (Chad- 
wick), Adams, was born, January 22, 1745. In 1766 he 
began a clearing on Cambridge farm, on land purchased of 
his father, and here he was engaged each summer in clearing 
land and in building a house and a barn until 1770, when he 
became a permanent resident of this town. That John 
Adams was a man of unusual vigor of body is an easy infer- 
ence from the fact that he lived to the advanced age of one * 
hundred and four years, one month and four days, and that 
he was a man of superior mental endowment is swiftly wit- 
nessed by the record of a prolonged and useful life. He was 
frequently elected assessor and selectman, and in other 
municipal afiairs he was much employed. In an unusual 
degree he commanded the respect and good will of his towns- 
men. The fruit of a life of industry and frugality he dis- 
tributed, while living, among his children, and when over 
ninety years of age, with a horse and light wagon, he 
journeyed to Harford, Susquehannah county, Pennsylvania, 
and back to Ashburnh'am. His son, James, had previously 



removed to Harford and soon after his visit there he re- 
turned to that place and there resided until his death. 

In the closing years of a remarkable life he passed through 
no twilight of mental decay and feebleness. When over one 
hundred years of age, in a letter to Mrs. Samuel Gibson, 
who during many years was a near neighbor, he writes of 
himself in these clear, intelligent sentences, — "My eyesight 
remains much as it has been for many years. I can see with 
oflasses to read an hour or two at a time which answers in 
the room of hearing." Not until he had closely approached 
one hundred years did his hearing fail, and to the end he 
was able to converse with his friends, although his hearing 
was considerably impaired. Under date of February 7, 
1846, he writes to his grandson, John Adams, as follows : 

Beloved Grandson : — This morning I received the kindness of 
your letter, and among other things it brought the sorrowful and 
melancholy tidings of the death of your venerable grandmother 
Gibson. The news has struck me with uncommon feelings of 
sorrow. I presume you are not unacquainted with the friendship 
that has for many long years subsisted between the old lady, your 
grandmother, and myself, and hope you will not wonder at my 
being overpowered. My mind is too much disturbed to be able to 
write. O, what a vale of tears is this pilgrimage, — this worldly 
state in which we are placed ! And how are we excited to sym- 
pathize with each other under the bereavements which we have 
sustained since I saw you last, when we look around and see what 
slaughter the King of Terrors has been permitted to make in our 
family. O, how many of our nearest relations and even bosom 
companions are no more ; — and last of all your beloved grand- 
mother, my friend and sister. And where now shall we look for 
consolation? To God and to the Gospel. of his Son. There, and 
there alone, shall we find relief. 

Love to your children and all enquiring friends, your uncle 
SamueFs [Gibson] family in particular. With the affections of a 
parent, I remain 



In a letter to Joel Foster, son of Samuel and grandson of 
Jeremiah Foster, an early settler in this town, vivid evidences 
of an unimpaired memory are apparent. The letter was 
written at Harford, February 3, 1846. 

Respected Friend : — I am now with a weak and faltering hand 
attempting to comply with 3'our request by writing a few lines to 
you, hoping this will find you and your family in health and 
prospering. I would inform you that my health is as good as may 
be expected by a person like myself under the infirmities of old 
age and the decay of mental faculties. Dear sir, I received your 
friendly letter by my son James and took much pleasure in read- 
ing the contents of it ; it always gives me much pleasure to receive 
a letter from my Massachusetts friends, but especially from a 
family where I have been so agreeably acquainted as I was with 
your honored father and his family. It reminds me of by-gone 
days when we were doing town business together. If ever I took 
satisfaction in that business it was when I was connected with 
your father. True, he was not a ready writer ; but his candor, his 
judicious and sound judgment and unprejudiced mind and ex- 
tensive knowledge of the town and its affairs, qualified him for the 
business in which he was often engaged. I presume you remember 
me often at your house, and I knew something of its affairs ; and 
truly I thought your father and his family was a worthy example, 
and on his farm a pattern of industry, dilligence and economy ; 
in the town, a pillar to the community a blessing to all, an honest 
man, which is the noblest work of God. But his God whom he 
served saw fit in the midst of his days to call him hence, and shall 
not the Lord of heaven and earth do right? And who shall say 
to the Almighty, what doest thou, or why doest thou so? 

I understand by your letters that in years past you have been 
visited by sickness and the loss of friends, even your bosom friend. 
In this I can feelingly sympathize with you, having been tried in 
the same furnace of affliction, losing the wife of my youth with 
whom I lived fifty-three years, every year adding strength to the 
tie of affection. But under these trials it becomes us to cultivate 


a spirit of resignation whereby we may be enabled to say from the 
heart, — " Not my will, heavenly Father, bnt thine be done." 

Dear friend, I now take the liberty to congratulate you on the 
happy connexion which you have formed with the once Mrs. 
Cobleigh, a lady with whom I have in time past had some acquaint- 
ance, and view her to be a lady of virtue, intelligence and benefi- 
cence, and with whom I wish you to enjoy a long, peaceful, joyful, 
prosperous and happy life. 

I must write one sad piece of news, if j^ou have not heard of it. 
Our coal mine, about eighteen miles from here, about a fortnight 
ago broke in and covered seventeen men which have not yet been 

Give my respects to all your surviving family and enquiring 
friends. When I think of Ashburnham, it seems as though I was 
at home, being the place where I spent the prime and vigor of my 
days, and where there are now many of my near relations and 
dear friends sleeping in the dust. Peace to their ashes ; and 
peace to the town ; long may it continue to prosper ; and may 
truth and righteousness grow and flourish. 

Divine Providence, it seems, has so ordered that my body must 
return to dust in a strange land, that is, in a land far distant from 
where rest most of the ashes of my beloved relatives. Truly such 
would not have been my choice ; but why should we be anxious 
about the clay when the spirit has taken its flight to God who gave 
it? And blessed be God for the hope which is the anchor of the 
soul sure and steadfast, that we in his own time shall meet and 
worship him and his son Jesus Christ our Redeemer, joining in a 
new and never-ending anthem and song of redeeming love. 

And here, dear sir, I must conclude my broken epistle ; and 
bidding you goodby, I remain your sincere friend, 

JOHN ADAMS, aged one hundred and one years. 

Mr. Joel Foster. 

Other letters and writings, treasured by his descendants, 
assert the vigor of an active mind, and those written when 
this aged man had lived an hundred years are without a 





urullel. H' 
Uis town have bee a 
^ •».oii useful apd prou! 

Colonel Enoch 

Foster") Whitmorc. 

rie was a far; 

iiic iioilhwest part f 

llicient officer in ^^^^ 

f the ro 2:iment. 

town affairs 
. ; trusL unci was cho 
zift of the to'"'^" 
The nnti" 

lim the sentinot 

sympathy, p' 

'r» this and lU m vu: - 

'H^ u radical hut iir* a ' 

1849. Hi. 

■JOT" of Tsnn.^'^ ?V.'^ }*rh 

rer, and 
rly life 
ose to t'l 
\' called 

•idfast supi ■' 
he offspring of 

>U of ■ 

4ent nature was a natural seq^ 
e was in the minority and during an age t)f .siixvn^; , 
I rejudices, his political views were a bar to pi ^: 
i'ublio service ; yet his frequent election to offic 
•aneous recognition of his worth and ajbilit_ 
ife he was above reproach, and in his social 
.;enerou8 and affectio '^ ^'eptem- 

Jekomk W . Fo> J . .- / . . ^ i I of J 

Wpth-^^^-''')--;r') Fo-;tfr. ^'ns bom in this t0T\ 

andson of Jer^ 
irly settlers 

nnesb " iuuess ui \ 




parallel. He died February 26, 1849. His descendants in 
this town have been and still are numerous and have ever 
been useful and prominent citizens. 

Colonel Enoch Whitmoke, son of Isaac and Rebecca 
(Foster) Whitmore, was born in this town, September 8, 
1796. He was a farmer and a manufacturer, and resided in 
the northwest part of the town. In early life he was an 
efficient officer in the militia and rapidly rose to the command 
of the regiment. Having held the commissions of lower 
rank he was commissioned colonel of the Fourth Eegiment 
in 1829. In town affiiirs he was frequently called to positions 
of trust and was chosen to nearly all the offices within the 
o'ift of the town. 

The anti-slavery cause early enlisted his sympathies and 
found in him an intelligent and steadfast support. With 
him the sentiment was not the offspring of emotional 
sympathy, but a living principle of human right and justice. 
In this and in all questions of moment, Colonel Whitmore 
was a radical but not a fanatic. In his view the institution 
of slavery was wrong, and to oppose it with the force of a 
persistent nature was a natural sequence. For many years 
he was in the minority and during an age of strong political 
prejudices, his political views were a bar to promotion in 
public service ; yet his frequent election to office was a spon- 
taneous recognition of his worth and ability. In his daily 
life he was above reproach, and in his social relations he was 
generous and affectionate. He died September 13, 1860. 

Jerome W. Foster, Esq., son of Joel and Dolly 
(Wetherbee) Foster, was born in this town, December 15, 
1810. He was a great-grandson of Jeremiah Foster, one of 
the early settlers of this town, and inherited in an eminent 
degree a firmness of character and soundness of judgment 
which had distinguished his ancestors. Mr. Foster was a 


man of varied employments and many trusts were safely 
confided to his eflicient management. He was a civil 
engineer, a justice of the peace, for many years the superin- 
tendent of the post office and was frequently employed in the 
conduct of town affairs. He was also a trustee of Gushing 
Academy and a member of the committee of construction, 
and to his prudent and sagacious counsels the Academy is 
much indebted. For eighteen years he was town clerk. 
The records by him transcribed are expressed with precision 
and orderly arrangement. In every labor of an industrious 
life, Mr. Foster has left the impress of mature judgment and 
integrity of character. If he never sought the applause of 
his fellow-men and never suggested his own advancement he 
did not fail to receive the spontaneous confidence and un- 
qualified respect of all who knew him. 

Mr. Foster was reserved in manner and conservative in 
his habits of thought, yet he never failed in the discharge of 
important trusts, nor in courage to maintain his convictions 
of right and duty. He was prominent in all measures per- 
taining to the welfare of the town and on- questions of 
moment his advice was frequently sought, and in his loyal 
service the best interests of the community were encouraged 
and advanced. He died March 23, 1871. 

Hon. Ohio Whitney, son of Ohio and Mary (Bolton) 
Whitney, was born in Ashburnham, June 9, 1813. 
He was honorably connected in direct and collateral 
branches of his family. In early life he was an apprentice 
with Josiah White, a carpenter of this town, and sub- 
sequently he was foreman with Mr. Tower of Worcester, a 
few years. Returning to his native town at the age of 
twenty-six years, he was mainly employed as a contractor 
and builder through the earlier years of an active and useful 
life. He was engaged at different times in many business 



■enterprises, and especially those in which the prosperity of 
the town was more immediately involved. But he was best 
known and is more conspicuous in the annals of this town as 
a public-spirited, loyal citizen. With him the fame and 
growth of Ashburnham was not merely a series of sudden 
impulses, enlisting his energies for a day, but rather a con- 
trolling and ever renewed inspiration which neither failed 
under discouragement nor suffered abatement under oppos- 
ing obstacles. 

Every commendable enterprise has found in Mr. Whitney 
unfailing encouragement and to the aid of very many his 
willing service has been summoned. For many years he 
was a trustee of the Fitchburg Savings Bank and a vice- 
president of the Ashburnham Savings Bank, and an original 
director of the Ashburnham National Bank. He was presi- 
dent of the Worcester North Agricultural Society in 1864 
and 1865, and an active member of the Fitchburg Board of 
Trade. His efficient service in behalf of Gushing Academy, 
is mentioned in another chapter. 

In the affairs of the town he was much employed. His 
service in this direction was efficient and cheerftilly rendered. 
Eighteen years he presided over the annual March meetings 
and was frequently elected to the board of selectmen and 
assessors and upon important committees. In 1856 he 
represented the town in the House of Representatives, and 
the following year he was a member of the Senate. 

But such enumeration of public services fails to suggest 
the characteristics of the man. In this direction others have 
earned equal honors, but few have served the public with 
equal acceptance and efficiency. In his intercourse with his 
fellow-men he was affable and charitable. He bore malice 
to none. In the inner walks of his daily life his affections 
were constant and his friendships enduring. He died 
February 6, 1879. 


Persoxal jN^otices. — To the following notices are 
appended brief sketches of Governor Isaac Hill, Thomas 
Parkman Gushing and Hon. Milton Whitney. While they 
removed from this town in early life they were members of 
Ashburnham families ; Mr. Gushing and Mr. Whitney were 
natives of this town. 

Hon. Isaac Hill, eldest son of Isaac and Hannah (Rus- 
sell) Hill, was born in Gambridge, now Arlington, April 6, 
1788. The family removed to Ashburnham in 1798 and 
here found many ties of kindred. The mother of this dis- 
tinguished man was a grand-daughter of Gaptain Thomas 
Adams who removed to this town in 1775 and a sister of 
Thomas Eussell who removed here about 1790. The parents 
continued to live and died in this town, and three of the 
daughters became the wives of Ashburnham men. Assist- 
ing in the management of a farm and attending the primitive 
schools of this town a few weeks in each year, Mr. Hill 
remained here until December, 1802, when he was appren- 
ticed to Joseph Gushing, the publisher of the Farmers' 
Cabinet at Amherst, J^ew Hampshire. Mr. Gushing was 
a son of Captgiin David Gushing of this town. 

Having improved every opportunity for the acquisition of 
knowledge, he left the employ of Mr. Gushing and went to 
Goncord, New Hampshire, April 5, 1809, the day before he 
was twenty-one years of age. In the autumn preceding the 
American Patriot, a small weekly paper, had been 
established in Goncord and at this time Mr. Hill purchased 
the establishment. On the eighteenth of April he became a 
citizen of Concord and entered upon a career enlivened by 
many weighty and brilliant achievements. He was an able 
controversial writer and for many years the vigorous editor 
of the New Hampshire Patriot. Through the columns of 
this paper he won a national reputation and became the 


acknowledged leader of the Democratic party of the State. 
He was a rigid partisan, ready at all times to give and to 
receive vigorous blows ; and if he was strong and some- 
times scathing in attack he was generous and noble in all his 
personal relations with his fellow-men. His friendship was 
unfailing, he was frank, sincere and honest and his character 
was above reproach. It is easily within the limits of con- 
servative estimate to assert that Isaac Hill had a more 
numerous personal following and firmer adherents than has 
fallen to the lot of SLuy man in Xew Hampshire. 

In the course of an active life he was called to numerous 
positions of trust and responsibility and in this varied service 
his integrity and ability were conspicuous. He was a di- 
rector of several local monetary organizations ; twice the 
clerk of the State Senate, a member of both branches of the 
Legislature and in 1829 he was appointed by President Jack- 
son second comptroller of the Treasury Department. He 
was chosen United States senator for a full term commencing 
March, 1831. Having been elected governor of New Hamp- 
shire in the spring of 1836 he resigned his seat in the Senate 
a few months before the completion of the term. In 1837 
and 1838 he was reelected governor, and in 1840 he was 
appointed sub-treasurer of the United States at Boston. 

Thomas Parkman Gushing was born in this town, Octo- 
ber 7, 1787. He was the youngest of the eight children of 
Eev. Dr. John and Sarah (Parkman) Gushing. In lineal 
descent this family is not represented in this town at the 
present time, but the name is crystallized in the annals of 
Ashburnham. It will live for ages and will be read in fair 
characters, both in the prolonged and useful pastorate of the 
father and in the life and benevolence of the son. At the 
age of thirteen years he entered the store of an elder brother 
in Boston. This engagement was interrupted by the death 


of his brother. In 1809 he became one of the firm of Tuck- 
erman and Rogers, subsequently known as Tuckerman and 
Gushing and as Gushing and Wilkinson. In this firm he 
was actively engaged until he retired from business a few 
years previous to his death. 

In an address delivered by Rev. Josiah D. Grosby at the 
dedication of Gushing Academy, 1875, appears the following 
outline of the business life of Mr. Gushing. 

"The knowledge, varied, extensive and valuable, necessary 
to conduct such establishments successfully, is almost an 
education of itself. Besides, the habits of the man of busi- 
ness in respect to order, punctuality, observation, large 
generalization of facts, of close and consecutive thinking, of 
decisive and instant action, conjoined with honorable dealing, 
are of high value. 

"Not unfrequently men, so trained, have stepped into the 
highest offices of the country, and have tilled them with 
great profit to the people,, as well as honor to themselves. 
Mr. Gushing seems to have applied himself with a character- 
istic enthusiasm to a thorough mastery of all the knowledge 
connected with his business, and much more than this, as 
will appear farther on. He went abroad for business pur- 
poses earl}^ in life, and made good use of his opportunities 
for general improvement. But all this was incidental to his 
main purpose, that is, success in business. About 1812, he 
formed the purpose of going to Europe to purchase goods 
to be put upon a bare market after the war. He was 
defeated in his first attempt, but finally reached England 
through Halifax. He remained in Europe to the close of 
the war. He bought his goods, and they came upon the 
market at a favorable time, with much advantage to himself 
from his venture. 


" Mr. Gushing was an upright and honorable merchant of 
the old school. He guided his conduct by principles, and 
not impulses. His gains were not from speculation, dash or 
reckless movements, but were the results of fair trade. His 
morals were pure and his habits good. Though a man of 
great energy and persistency, yet he was a quiet, noiseless 
man, especially pleased with home and domestic scenes. 
His relief from toils of business was not in the gatherings of 
men, but in reading, many times till late at night. It may 
suffice to say, that by good conduct, untiring industry and 
excellent judgment, he gained for himself an ample fortune 
in the sense of his time, and achieved a place among the 
solid men of Boston." 

In his youth the exterior educational advantages of Mr. 
Gushing were limited, but the influences .of his home in 
childhood sfave direction to his habits of thouoht and hi3 
manner of life. He was a student always and with an ex- 
acting employment of his leisure hours he became a master 
of English literature and acquired a fair knowledge of French 
and Spanish. 

By attentive reading, by observation and through the asso- 
ciation with persons of similar tastes, Mr. Gushing fully 
comprehended the enlargement of education and the progress 
of art and the sciences that have attended the age in which 
he lived. In these habits of thought and in such employ- 
ments, stimulated by a thirst for knowledge which his early 
advantages could not satisfy, the foundations of Gushing 
Academy were wisely and firmly laid. 

Goncerning his manner in his daily life the aftectionate 
hand of a daughter has written : 

"My father had a remarkably even temper, and rarely 
gave way to anything like excitement in tone or look. He 
had a quick sense of humor and enjoyed telling and hearing 


a good story. His manners were ever those of a highly 
bred gentleman, his voice naturally low, and uniform urban- 
ity and courtesy distinguished him in his family as abroad. 
He had a fine musical ear ; in younger days was a good 
singer and played the flute well. Even to the last year of 
his life, it was a delight to him to accompany the piano with 
his favorite instrument, and our evenings were often spent 
in music and singing. 

"He was also fond of art, and though never in Italy, was 
familiar with her treasures of sculpture, architecture and 
painting, and possessed many fine engravings of the same." 

Thomas Parkman Gushing died November 23, 1854. Hi& 
will which had been written a few years, making ample pro- 
vision for an institution of learning in his native town, was 
then announced. The wisdom and the liberality of the 
bequest have received willing tributes of commendation, but 
no one can present a clearer picture of the man or give a 
better interpretation of his thought than are revealed in the 
pages of his will. 

Milton Whitney, Esq., son of Captain Silas and 
Hannah (Gushing) Whitney, was born in this town, 
October 9, 1823. In an exact use of an ambiguous term, 
Mr. Whitney was a self-educated man. His only educa- 
tional privileges were found in the public schools in this 
town and at a time before high schools and academies 
presented an opportunity for an advanced course of study. 
At an early age he entered the law office of Torrey and 
Woods, Esqs., of Fitchburg. He was an attentive student 
and was admitted to the Worcester county bar about 1845. 
After a brief practice in Fitchburg, he removed to Baltimore, 
Maryland, in 1850. There, as if awaiting his arrival, the 
laurels of conquest abundantly crowned his industry and 
earnest efforts. His ability as a lawyer and his power as an 


advocate were promptly recognized, and he early secured a 
large and lucrative practice. In 1854 he was chosen county 
attorney for the county of Baltimore, and at the completion 
of his term in 1858, he was reelected. In the conduct of 
this office, he manifested both ability and courage. He in- 
stituted a fearless and vigorous prosecution of a disorderly 
element of the population, and liberated the city from a 
reign of terror which had prevailed for many years. With 
unrelenting energy he brought men of high and low degree 
to feel the power of oifended law, and gave to human life 
and property a security unknown in former years. In this 
direction his success was brilliant and substantial. Often he 
labored in the midst of an adverse public sentiment and 
wrested a verdict against crime from a sympathizing jury. 

In 1860 he resigned an office in which for six years he had 
won unusual distinction and had secured the merited regard 
of his fellow-men. During tlie remaining years of his life he 
conducted many trials that are historic in that State. 

The national government recognizing his ability, confided 
to his care several important cases. In one of these he 
secured a verdict of three million dollars on a claim of the 
Post Office Department against a delinquent contractor. 
This successful issue attracted considerable attention from 
the fact that the defendants had successfully resisted all 
former proceedings against them. But he was best known 
and won the highest distinction as a criminal lawyer. With 
the training he had received as a prosecuting attorney, with 
an intimate knowledge of criminal law and the ability to 
summon every energy for instant use he was as successful in 
defence as he had formerly been in the prosecution of persons 
accused of crime. He was frequently brought into com- 
petition with men of the highest legal attainments and 
ability as advocates, but on all occasions he sustained 


himself with credit and honor. His intellect brightened in 
the contest and each encounter added to his fame. 

In the midst of his greatest achievements his strength 
failed him and he sought his native town for rest and in the 
hope of amended health. Surrounded by friends and visited 
by the acquaintances of his youth, his courage triumphed 
over his weakness, yet he found no relief and lived only a 
few weeks. 

Mr. Whitney was of medium height and of slender form. 
Sudden and nervous in his movements, he was yet affable 
and inviting in his manner. In his clear blue eye beamed 
the light of restless force and the tone of his voice gave 
accurate expression to the ardor of his emotions. Modest 
and unassuming, he seldom referred to his achievements or 
appeared conscious of the magnitude of his labor. He died 
in Ashburnham, September 3, 1875, and was buried in 
Baltimore, Maryland. 

College Graduates. — The following list of college 
graduates both in number and ability is highly creditable to 
the town. All of them are either natives of Ashburnham Oj. 
removed hither in early childhood. A few are included who 
did not graduate, although they substantially completed a 
collegiate course of study. 

Asa Stearns, son of William and Lydia (Davis) 
Stearns, was born in Ashburnham, October 14, 1784. 
Graduated at Harvard University, 1807. He was a young 
man of promise. His early death is recorded by Rev. John 
Gushing: — Asa Stearns, A. B., a candidate for the gospel 
ministry, died December 19, 1809, M. 25." 

Rev. Oliver Green, son of Oliver and Dorothy Hildreth 
Green, was born in Pepperell, July 4, 1781. Oliver Green, 
Sen., was a native of Pepperell and resided there until about 
1782 when he removed to Ashby. The year 1799 he 


resided in Westford, and in 1800 he removed to this town 
where he died May 15, 1834. Oliver, the son, was nineteen 
years of age when the family removed to Ashburnham. He 
graduated at Dartmouth College, 1807, and studied divinity 
with Kev. Dr. Samuel Austin, of Worcester. He taught at 
New Salem from June, 1807, to October 1808, and at 
Saratoga Springs, New York, from October, 1808, to 
September, 1809. In the autumn of the last year he 
removed to Sparta, New Jersey, where he was pastor of the 
Presbyterian church and a teacher. He died at Sparta, 
October 24, 1810. 

Dr. Samuel Scollay, son of Grover and Eebecca 
(Harris) Scollay, was born in Harvard, January 21, 1781. 
The family removed to Ashburnham when he was a child of 
three or four years of age. He fully improved the public 
schools of this town and labored upon the farm of his father 
until he became of age and was at full liberty to direct his 
future course. He then pursued a liberal course of study 
and was graduated at Harvard University, 1808. After 
teaching a short time, he studied medicine with Dr. Samuel 
J. Cramer, of Charlestown, Virginia, and in the spring of 
1816, he received his degree from the University of Pennsyl- 
vania in Philadelphia. He entered upon the practice of his 
profession in Smithfield, Jefferson county, Virginia, now 
West Virginia, and there remained in active labor until his 
death. He was a man of superior ability, and in his pro- 
fession he merited and enjoyed an excellent reputation. He 
acquired a substantial estate, but the memory of his spotless 
character and excellent qualities of mind and heart was the 
richer inheritance of his children. He died January 11, 

Rev. Jonathan David Winchester, son of Henry and 
Lois (Phelps) Winchester, and a grandson of Rev. Jonathan 


Winchester, was born in Ashburnham, April 28, 1781. 
Graduated at Middlebury College, 1809. He read theology 
with Eev. Holland Weeks, of Abington. After preaching a 
few years at Madrid, New York, he was pastor of the First 
Presbyterian church in Madison, Ohio, from 1826 to 1828, 
and of the Second Presbyterian church in that place 1830-31. 
He was a noted biblical student and devoted considerable 
time to a critical study, but a literal interpretation of the 
prophecies concerning the restoration of the Jews. He 
believed in their early return to Jerusalem with their 
Mosaic rio:hts and ceremonies and that their conversion to 
Christianity would immediately follow. Until his death he 
labored assiduously to direct the attention of the Christian 
public to this subject, and also to convince the Jews of the 
general truths of Christianity. Imbued with these senti- 
ments and improving every opportunity to give them ex- 
pression, he travelled extensively in this country and also 
visited England where he was engaged several months in 
active labor. With a lofty faith and courage unabated, he 
was contemplating a journey to the shores of the Medi- 
terranean, in a hope that he might render more signal service 
in preparing a way for the return of Israel to their ancient 
Jerusalem, when death overtook him. He died at Madison, 
Ohio, August 17, 1835. 

Henry Crosby, son ot Frederick and Martha (Maynard) 
Crosby, was born in Shrewsbury, July 18, 1785. The 
family removed to this town 1795. He graduated at Dart- 
mouth College, 1810, and read for the profession of law in 
the State of New York, where he practiced several years. 
Subsequently, he removed to Middlebrook Mills, Mont- 
gomery county, Maryland, where he was engaged in teach- 
ing many years. About 1838, it is supposed, he removed 
to Missouri and his subsequent career is unknown. 


Asa Green, M. D., son of Oliver and Dorothy (Hil- 
dreth) Green, was born in Ashby, February 11, 1789. He 
entered sophomore class of Williams College and graduated 
1813. In college he held a good reputation as a scholar and 
was distinguished for wit and vigor of thought. He 
practised medicine in Lunenburg, Townsend and North 
Adams, and while residing in the last named place he con- 
ducted a paper for a short time. Later, he removed to New 
York city and published a readable work of fiction which 
was intended to ridicule quackery in medicine. He received 
his degree of Doctor of Medicine from Brown University. 
He died in New York, 1839. 

Hon. Phinehas Randall, son of Phinehas and Sarah 
(Crosby) Randall, was born in Ashburnham, June 5, 1787. 
About 1810 the family removed to Williston, Vermont, and 
while a resident of that place he entered the University of 
Vermont where he graduated in the class of 1813. He was 
principal of the academy in Cherry Valley, New York, for 
a short time and was early admitted to the bar. He was 
successfully engaged in the practice of his profession at 
Bowman's Creek, later known as Ames, in Montgomery 
county. New York, until 1851, when he removed to 
Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he died 1853. 

Li 1828-9, he was a member of the New York Legislature 
and was appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for 
the county of Montgomery 1839. Among his children are 
included Hon. Alexander W. Randall, governor of Wiscon- 
sin, and Hon. Edwin M. Randall, Chief Justice of Florida. 
The family record is continued in the Genealogical Register. 

Rev. John Stearns, son of Isaac and Mary (Crosby) 
Stearns, was born in this town. May 11, 1791. Graduated 
at Union College, 1821. He studied divinity and was 
ordained in the ministry without charge. He was a teacher 



in Washington, D. C, where he died September 10, 1824.. 

Rev. Merrick Augustus Jewett, D. D., youngest 
son of Colonel Joseph and Sarah (Woods) Jewett, was bom^ 
in this town, August 26, 1798. He is remembered as a 
youth of excellent qualities of mind and heart, and was held 
in high esteem as a pupil and subsequently as a teacher in 
the public schools of his native town. He pursued his 
preparatory studies at Phillips Academy, Andover, and 
graduated at Dartmouth College in class of 1823. During 
the ensuing two or three years he assisted in the store of an 
elder brother who was established in Baltimore, Maryland, 
and while there he studied theology under the direction of 
Rev. Dr. John McKim Duncan. After preaching nearly 
eight years in Bedford county, Pennsylvania, in the sum- 
mer of 1834, while journeying to St. Louis where a field of 
labor was inviting him, he tarried for a day at Terre Haute, 
Indiana. The labor of a lifetime now met him on his way. 
He was cordially invited to remain and preach the ensuing 
Sabbath. The first sermon determined the future relations 
between the preacher and the settlement. Terre Haute, 
now a city of thirty-five thousand inhabitants, was then a 
village of twelve hundred. At their earnest solicitation 
Mr. Jewett remained and preached to them through the 
week, and early in December, 1834, a Congregational 
church was organized with eleven members. With an 
ardent, eloquent preacher and a respected and beloved 
pastor, the church grew with the town. In 1841, during a 
series of revival meetings, Mr. Jewett was assisted by Rev. 
Henry Ward Beecher and over one hundred names were 
added to the roll of the church. 

An incident connected with his early labors in TeiTe 
Haute was never forgotten by the pastor or his sympathizing 
flock. After he had preached a few weeks he returned to 


Baltimore to attend his family on the journey to their future 
home. Returning they arrived at Terre Haute Christmas 
eve. The following morning his little son was instantly 
killed by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of a 
servant. If his labors were begun with tears, the sorrowful 
event awoke the tender sympathy of his people. 

In 1860, and after a successful and able pastorate of nearly 
twenty-six years, Mr. Jewett resigned his charge. Without 
charge, though frequently engaged in religious labor, he 
continued a residence in that place until a few months pre- 
ceding his death. While journeying in the South for the 
benefit of impaired health he died at Paris, Texas, April 3, 
1874, aged nearly seventy-six. 

In regard to the ministry of Rev. Dr. Jewett, one who 
knew him through all the years of his devoted labor in 
Terre Haute, pays him a cheerful tribute : "He was a man 
of great ability, bearing a high reputation as a pulpit orator 
and as a faithful, sympathetic pastor." "Added to his social 
qualities and to his strong sympathy and to his broad 
catholicity were his superior talents. He was an earnest 
preacher of the truth. He was a man of thought, a man of 

Rev. Josiah Davis Crosby, Union College, 1826. 
Vide Chapter YIII. 

Rev. Jesse George Davis Stearns, son of Jesse and 
Lucinda (Davis) Stearns, was born in this town, February 
24, 1812. The family removed to New Ipswich in 1829 
where he pursued his preparatory studies and graduated at 
Amherst College, 1836. He was principal of Hopkins 
Academy in Hadley 1836-8, and tutor in Amherst College 
1839-41. Mr. Stearns pursued a full course of theological 
study at Andover, 1838-9 and '41-2. He was ordained at 
Billerica, the home of his ancestors. May 29, 1843, and was 


dismissed May 8, 1867. He was subsequeotly acting pastor 
at Zumbrota, Minnesota, from 1876 until his death which 
occurred November 1, 1882. 

Of his pastorate in Billerica, Eev. Henry A. Hazen 
accords the following merited tribute : " The long and faith- 
ful pastorate of Mr. Stearns deserves especial recognition. 
A scholar of exceptional diligence and culture, modest and 
devout and active in every good word and work, he com- 
mended himself to the citizens of the town as well as to his 
own charge. As a teacher of a useful private school and 
superintendent of the schools of the town, he exerted no 
little influence and represented the town in the Legislature." 
Mr. Stearns is the author of "Meaning and Power of 
Baptism," and of several printed discourses and pamphlets. 

Eev. William Raymond, son of Daniel and Sally 
(Grreen) Raymond, was born in Ashby, October 27, 1815. 
The family removed to this town in 1822. He entered 
Amherst College in 1834 and remained two years. Subse- 
quently he was an academical and theological student at 
Oberlin College but did not graduate. Having been 
appointed to the Mendi Mission, Africa, under the auspices 
of the American Missionary Association he arrived with his 
wife at Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 15, 1842, after a 
passage of fifty days. During the voyage they experienced 
considerable sickness and buried their only child. They 
immediately returned to their native land, but again sailed 
for Africa, November 21, 1843. In this service he died in 
Africa, November 26, 1847. 

Rev. William S afford Spaulding, son of Isaac and 
Lydia (Brown) Spaulding, was born in this town, March 4, 
1809. He was a student at New Ipswich Academy and 
graduated at Marietta College 1839. He was principal of an 
academy in East Brooklyn, New York, 1841-2 ; of Brooklyn 


Female Collegiate Institute 1843-4; of Salisbury, New 
Hampshire, Academy, 1845-6 ; of Boscawen, New Hamp- 
shire Academy, 1847-8. While residing in Salisbury he 
studied divinity with Rev. C. B. Tracey and was ordained 
in the ministry September 18, 1848. During the succeed- 
ing ten years he was engaged in teaching and in the ministry 
in Ohio. Commencing in 1859 he was two years acting 
pastor of the Congregational church in Bristol, New Hamp- 
shire, and agent of the American Tract Society from 1867 to 
1870. He died in Lynn, June 10, 1884. 

General Harrison C. Hobart, a distinguished lawyer 
and politician of Wisconsin, was born in this town, January 
31, 1815. He was a son of Peter and Keziah (Hobart) 
Hunt and at the solicitation of his maternal relatives he 
assumed the name of Hobart. In his youth he served an 
apprenticeship of three years in a printing-office at Haverhill, 
New Hampshire. Through his own efforts at his trade and 
in teaching school he pursued a liberal course of study grad- 
uatino^ at Dartmouth Colleo'e 1842. He studied law in the 
office of Hon. Robert Rantoul of Boston and emigrated to 
the Territory of Wisconsin in 1846. Mr. Hobart entered 
upon the practice of his profession in Sheboygan. His 
talents and sterling qualities commanded immediate recog- 
nition and on the year of his arrival he was chosen to the 
territorial legislature from Sheboygan and Washington 
counties. On the organization of the State government he 
was the first senator from his district. In this service he 
was appointed chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, a 
most important position, and many of the early statutes of 
the State were drafted by him. The following year he was 
returned to the Assembly and was elected Speaker of the 
House. In the years immediately following he was twice 
nominated for Congress and commanded the full support of 
his political party which was in the minority in his district. 


In 1855 he removed to Chilton in Camulet county and from 
that district he was elected to the Assembly in 1859. The 
following year he was the standard bearer of the Democratic 
party in the gubernatorial contest. In this canvass the town 
of Ashburnham was exclusively and honorably represented, 
the Republican and successful candidate being Hon. Alex- 
ander W. Randall whose father was a native of this town. 

During these years, crowned with many and substantial 
honors, Mr. Hobart has been a successful lawyer and has 
been thoroughly identified with the prosperity of a vigorous 
State and the welfare of its public institutions. At the first 
call for troops in the Spring of 1861 he closed his office and 
enlisted as a private. In the organization of the Fourth 
Wisconsin Regiment he was commissioned captain. Having 
been stationed several months near Washington, in March, 
1862, the regiment was ordered to New Orleans under com- 
mand of General Butler. In this campaign the regiment 
rendered gallant service. Captain Hobart, then at Baton 
Rouge, was promoted August 21, 1862, to lieutenant-colonel 
of the Twenty-first Wisconsin Regiment. Colonel Hobart 
joined his regiment in Kentucky in October. The colonel 
being absent on account of wounds. Colonel Hobart was in 
command of the regiment from the time of his arrival in 
Kentucky. At the battle of Stone River which ensued soon 
after. Colonel Hobart and his command received honorable 
mention in the report of General Rosseau. On the evening 
of the memorable battle at Chickamauga, General Thomas 
ordered a retreat ; in this movement. Colonel Hobart who 
had been holding a forward position was taken prisoner. 
With many other Union prisoners he was incarcerated in 
Libby prison. At the end of four months he with many 
others escaped through a tunnel which they had excavated 
under the street and a distance of sixty feet. He returned to 

\^ ^ \^vVv-;v^/~X 



/his regiment and participated in the siege of Atlanta, Georgia, 
and in the "March to the Sea." In the closing scenes of the 
war he was in command of a brigade. At the request of 
General Sherman and dating from the capture of Atlanta, he 
was bre vetted brigadier-general for meritorious service. On 
his return to civil life in 1865 General Hobart removed to 
Milwaukee and there renewed the practice of his profes- 
sion. In 1865 he was again a candidate for governor and 
was defeated by Hon. Lucius Fairchild on party issues. 
Two years later finds him again in the Assembly where his 
service was conspicuous. Through several succeeding ^^ears 
he was a member of the city council and in 1878 its 

His career has been brilliant and honorable. As a lawyer, 
an orator, a legislator and a soldier, he has won many laurels 
and has secured the confidence and respect of his fellow-men. 

Rev. Josiah Milton Stearns, son of Jesse and Lucinda 
(Davis) Stearns, was born in this town, June 17, 1818. He 
fitted for college at New Ipswich Academy and entered 
Amherst College in class of 1843 but graduated at Marshall 
College, Pennsylvania, in class of 1844. He studied theol- 
ogy at Cincinnati, Ohio, and was ordained over the Congre- 
gational church at Lunenburg, Vermont, June 6, 1849. 
From his first charge he was dismissed February 3, 1852. 
After a brief pastorate at Brentwood, New Hampshire, he 
died in that town June 12, 1853. 

Rev. Danforth Leander Eaton, son of Josiah and 
Mary (Reed) Eaton, was born, July 4, 1822. Entering 
Oberlin CoUeo^e he o-raduated in res^ular course 1843 and 
remained in the theological department of that institution 
the ensuing two years. During a prolonged and active 
career he has been a successful preacher in Michigan. (All 
the places named in the following paragraphs are in that 


State.) He was ordained in the ministry at Farmers Creek, 
March 1, 1848, and the same year he was installed over the 
Congregational church in Oakland, where he remained until 
1856. Subsequently he labored four years at Howell and 
at Brighton. In 1860 he was installed over the Congrega- 
tional church in Lowell. From 1862 to 1866 he was 
engaged in business but returned to the ministry and 
preached in sev^eral places in the vicinit}^ and again in 
Lowell from 1874 to 1878. During the past eight years, 
with a home in Lowell, he has supplied in Ovid, Cannon and 

Mr. Eaton has been a faithful pastor and an acceptable 
preacher. He has ever maintained friendly and intimate 
relations with his charge, and with rare executive ability he 
has been eminently successful in building up the churches 
over which he has presided. 

Peter Thatcher Hunt, son of Peter and Hezekiah 
(Hobart) Hunt, was born in Ashbui'nham, September 9, 
1819. He graduated at Dartmouth College, 1847. He 
taught at Lexington and at Louisville, Kentucky, and was 
principal of the Glasgow Academy in the place last named. 
In the mean time he studied law and wa& admitted to prac- 
tice in Louisville. Removing to Iowa he entered upon a 
successful practice of his profession, but failing health led 
him to modify the matured plans of a life work. In quest 
of health he visited the Pacific coast where for several years 
he was familiar with a life among the mines and with Indian 
warfare. Later he removed to Washington Territory and 
was there engaged in teaching and in stock-raising. During 
the war he was active and influential in the Union cause and 
a leading member of the Legislature. In 1872 he removed 
to Denver, Colorado, where he continues to reside and is a 
useful and influential citizen. 


Dk. Charles Edson Davis, son of Charles and Elvira 
(Buss) Davis, was born in this town, May 11, 1822. He 
entered Dartmouth College 1846, and remained through 
Freshman and Sophomore years. With impaired health he 
pursued his professional study with Dr. Harriman of Gard- 
ner and graduated at Dartmouth Medical School, 1852. He 
practised successfully in Greenwich, Hard wick and Ashby. 
He died in this town, June 8, 1863. 

Oliver Davis, son of Charles and Elvira (Buss) Davis, 
was born in this town, August 7, 1823. He entered Dart~ 
mouth College with his brother and graduated in class of 
1850. He studied medicine with Dr. Alfred Hitchcock of 
Fitchburg, and later he was a student at Harvard Medical 
School. On account of failing health he returned to his 
home a few weeks before the completion of the prescribed 
course of study. With ample preparation and ability for a 
life of usefulness, he died March 1, 1853. 

Rev. Walter Rice, son of Silas and Almira (Corey) 
Rice., was born in this town, December 25, 1836. He 
attended the public schools of his native town and of Ashby 
and in early life removed to Illinois. With a view to enter 
the ministry, he entered Beloit College, Wisconsin, where he 
graduated with honor in the class of 1862. He pursued the 
prescribed course of study at Newton Theological Institution 
and graduated 1865. In July of the same year he was 
ordained and installed over the church in West Acton. In 
1868, he became acting pastor of the church in South Royals- 
ton. Commencing in April, 1874, he was a student, in 
special course, at Andover Theological Seminary, and sub- 
sequently was pastor of the church in Lunenburg. Since 
May, 1880, Mr. Rice has been pastor of the church in 
Brandon, Vermont. He is in the midst of a successful 


career and every year is presenting the fruit which will 
attend the labor of a lifetime. 

Rev. Francis Joel Fairbanks, son of Emory and 
Eunice (Hay ward) Fairbanks, was born in this town, Sep- 
tember 8, 1835. During his preparatory studies he was a 
popular teacher in the public schools of this town, Lunen- 
burg and Gardner and one term in the High school at Ashby. 
He entered Amherst College the last term of Freshman year 
and graduated in class of 1862. He pursued a course of 
theological study at the Theological Seminary, Princeton, 
New Jersey, and Union Theological Seminary, New York 
city. Licensed to preach May, 1863, by the Worcester 
North Association. Having supplied at Westminster, 
Vermont, during vacations while at the seminary, he was 
installed over the church in that place August 31, 1864, and 
dismissed in May, 1871. From January 1, 1872, he was 
acting pastor two years of the church in Ayer and acting 
pastor of the church in Paxton from April 1, 1874, to Sep- 
tember 1, 1877. Since the last date he has been acting 
pastor of the Congregational church in West Boylston. 
Mr. Fairbanks is an earnest laborer in his profession. With 
the force of a vigorous mind and a fixed purpose he has 
commanded the attention and respect of his charge. His 
warm sympathies have sought their confidence and love, and 
in his daily life his public instruction is continually renewed. 
He has delivered a number of discourses on miscellaneous 
subjects and is the author of the History of Westminster, 

Joseph Whitcomb Fairbanks, Ph. D., son of Emory 
and Eunice (Hayward) Fairbanks, was born in this town, 
March 26, 1841. He fitted for college at Williston Semi- 
nary, Easthampton, and graduated at Amherst College 1866. 
He was principal of the High School, South Hadley Falls, 


1866-8; of Centre School, Norwalk, Connecticut, 1868-74; 
of Dix Street Grammar School, Worcester, 1874-5 ; of 
Worcester High School, 1875-8 and of Williston Seminary, 
Easthampton, 1878-84. During the past two years he has 
been private tutor at St. Paul, Minnesota. Mr. Fairbanks 
is a person of strong and massive frame, genial in manner 
and of commanding presence. Endowed with rare executive 
ability, combined with liberal culture and ripe scholarship, 
he is a popular and efficient instructor. The labor of his life 
has been attended with an unusual measure of success. 

Melvin O. Adams, Esq., son of Joseph and Dolly Win- 
ship (Whitney) Adams, was born in Ashburnham, November 
7, 1847. He pursued his preparatory studies in this town 
and at New Ipswich Appleton Academy and graduated with 
honors at Dartmouth College in the able class of 1871. He 
was sub-master of the Fitchburg High School 1871-2, and 
read law with Hon. Edward Avery of Boston, and Hon. 
Amasa Norcross of Fitchburg. He received the degree of 
Bachelor of Laws from Boston University 1874, and the 
same year he was admitted to the Suffolk county bar. Until 
the year 1876 he continued a legal residence in this town and 
was moderator of the annual March meeting 1874, '75 and 
'76. Mindful of the partiality and appreciative regard of his 
townsmen, he has responded to many invitations for ad- 
dresses on miscellaneous subjects. 

In his professional labors in Boston since 1874, he has 
been successful and has won a merited reputation for character 
and abilit}^. Since 1876 he has been assistant district attor- 
ney for the district of Suffolk, and has probably been 
eno^ao^ed in the trial of a o^reater number of cases than has 
fallen to the lot of any lawyer of his age in the State. In 
habit of thought he is quick and vigorous. In attack or 
defence his resources are at instant command, and all his 


work is sustained by the weight of integrity and character. 
Mr. Adams is yet a young man, possesshig ability and 
opportunity to complete a career which has been ably and 
firmly outlined. 

Dr. Ernest P. Miller, son of Dr. Alfred and Elsie L. 
(Kibling) Miller, was born in Ashburnham, January 4, 
1851. He attended the public schools of this town and of 
Fitchburg, and gi-aduated at Harvard University 1872, and 
at Harvard Medical School 1877. He immediately entered 
upon the practice of his profession in Fitchburg, and has 
been successfully employed. Since 1877, he has been 
Medical Examiner; in 1878 and 1883 he was elected City 
Physician and since 1884 he has been a member of the Board 
of Examining Surgeons for Pensions. 

Frederic D. Lane, son of Samuel and Nancy H. 
(Eaton) Lane, was born in this town, July 4, 1849. He 
attended the public schools of Ashburnham and Appleton 
Academy at New Ipswich and graduated at Dartmouth Col- 
lege in class of 1878. He taught one year in the public 
schools of Ashby and this town and since December, 1879, 
he has been an instructor of mathematics and German in 
Cushing Academy. 

Francis W. Lane, son of Allen F. and Laura (Tyler) 
Lane, was born in this town, October 24, 1858. He pur- 
sued his studies in the public schools of his native town and 
at Cushing Academy, and graduated at Dartmouth College 
1881. He has taught in Yonkers, New York, and in Wash- 
ington, D. C. At the present time he is examiner of pen- 
sions in the Department of the Interior. 

Dr. Henry E. Cushing, son of Benjamin and Lois 
(Holbrook) Cushing, was born in this town, November 30, 
1853. Pursued his preparatory studies at Westfield High 
School and graduated at Dartmouth College 1882. He 


received his desfree from the Chicas^o Medical Collefife in 
March, 1884, where he had pursued a prescribed course of 
study. In April following he removed to Champion, Illi- 
nois, and is junior member of the firm of Howard & Gush- 
ing, physicians and surgeons. 

Walter Herbert Marble, son of Warren and Mary 
L. (Wilker) Marble, was born in this town, September 13, 
1858. He was a student in the public schools of this town 
and at Gushing Academy. He graduated at Dartmouth 
Gollege in class of 1883. At present he is a student at the 
Ghicago Medical Gollege, where he will graduate in March, 

In addition to the college graduates a considerable number 
from this town have been admitted to the learned professions. 
Some of them have been distinguished in their calling and 
none have failed to honor the town from whence they came 
and in which the early habits of life were foimed. 

Eev. Stephen Eandall, son of Stephen and Sarah 
(Fairbanks) Randall, was born in Stow, January 20, 1763. 
He was the eldest of ten children, seven of whom were born 
before the family removed to this town in 1780. He was 
married and resided in this town until about 1808. In 1795 
he was dismissed at his request from the Gongregational 
church in order that he might unite with the Methodists. 
He was a preacher in that denomination several years. He 
died in Sweden, New York, April 16, 1828. 

Rev. Samuel Harris, son of Deacon Jacob and Eliza- 
beth (Winchester) Harris, and a grandson of Rev. Jonathan 
Winchester, was born in this town, August 18, 1774. He 
read theology with Rev. Dr. Seth Payson of Rindge, and 
with Rev. Samuel Worcester of Fitchburg, and was licensed 
to preach 1803. After preaching a short time at Alstead 
and New Boston, New Hampshire, he was ordained and 


installed over the Congregational church in Windham, jSfew 
Hampshire, October 9, 1805. In consequence of loss of 
voice, he was dismissed at his request in December, 1826. 
In 1830 and 1831 he preached in Dublin, New Hampshire, 
but his voice again failed and he returned to Windham, 
where he died September 5, 1848. He was a faithful pastor 
and a useful man, and was held in high esteem by all who 
knew him. 

Rev. Elijah Willard, son of Deacon John and Sarah 
(Willard) Willard, was born in this town, April 19, 1782. 
At nineteen years of age he entered the Methodist ministry 
and was then received into the New England Conference. 
For several years he was assigned to stations in New Hamp- 
shire, Vermont and Canada. Subsequently, he filled several 
pastorates in this State, but for many years he was retained 
in the Conference in superannuated relation. He was an 
attentive student of the Scriptures and eminently biblical in 
the matter and the language of his public instruction. It is 
the unanimous testimony of all who knew him, that he was a 
sincere, earnest preacher and a most worthy and exemplary 
man. He died at Saugus, September 5, 1852. 

Dr. Abel Wilder, son of Samuel and Dorothy (Carter) 
Wilder, was born in this town, June 24, 1786. He was a 
man of marked ability, and for many years a distinguished 
citizen and eminent physician of Blackstone, where he was 
engaged in active practice from 1823 to 1864. A few weeks 
before his death he removed to New York where he died 

Simeon Sanderson, Esq., son of Moses and Mary 
Proctor Sanderson, was born, September 24, 1790. After 
attending the public schools of this town and several terms 
at the academies in this vicinity, he read law with Mr. 
Dustan of Westminster, and entered upon the practice of 


his profession in that place. He was laborious in his habits, 
attentive to the interests of his clients, and many important 
cases were entrusted to his care. He died December 3, 

Dr. Charles Woodward Wilder, son of Caleb and 
Elizabeth (Woodward) Wilder, and a grandson of Colonel 
Caleb Wilder of Lancaster, was born in this town, December 
30, 1790. He graduated at Dartmouth Medical School in 
class of 1817, and successfully practised his profession many 
years in Templeton. About 1845 he removed to Fitchburg. 
He ably forwarded the construction of the Fitchburg and 
Worcester railroad and became the first president of the cor- 
poration. In this position he was succeeded by Colonel 
Ivers Phillips, also a native of Ashburnham. Dr. Wilder 
subsequently removed to Leominster where he died February 
12, 1851. He was a skilful physician and an influential 
citizen. He was frequently elected to positions of trust and 
represented the town of Leominster in the Legislature. 

Rev. Calvin Cujumings, son of Abraham and Mary 
(Bourne) Cummings, was born in this town, October 10, 
1792. The family removed to Ashburnham from Attle- 
borough a year or two previous to this date. Without doubt 
he enjoyed the limited school privileges of the community in 
which he lived and no information of an advanced course of 
study has been secured. His home was in the north part of 
the town and near the families of the early Methodists. He 
became identified with them at an early age. About 1820, 
he was licensed to preach, and since that date he did not 
permanently reside in this town. It is currently stated that 
he became a presiding elder and continued in the ministry 
many years, but a record of his labors has not been found. 
He died near Boston about 1855. 


Eev. Humphrey Harris, son of William and Betsey 
Harris, was born in Concord, March 28, 1795. The family 
removed to this town before the close of the past century. 
With few educational advantages he began to preach 
Methodism about 1828, and the following year he was 
admitted to the New England Conference and stationed one 
year at Gill. At the close of this appointment he joined 
the Wesleyan Conference and preached a few years in 
Vermont and one year in Rhode Island. About 1835 he 
returned to this town where he was a farmer and occasion- 
ally a preacher until his death. Subsequently he removed 
to Winchendon and soon after was killed by a falling tree in 

Rev. William Whitney, son of William and Lucy 
(Brooks) Whitney, was born in Ashburnham, July 22, 
1809. He attended the public schools of this town and the 
academy in South Reading. At the age of twenty-one 
years he travelled by stage, canal and steamboat to the 
West. At that time it required six weeks to reach the 
western part of Illinois. He continued his studies at Rock- 
spring Seminary, now the Shurtleff College, of Alton, 
Illinois ; and at Granville Seminary, now Denison University, 
and at Oberlin, Ohio. He was licensed to preach in 1833, 
but soon entered upon a continued and useful career as a 
teacher. He was an instructor four years in Granville, six 
in Lancaster and eleven in other places in Ohio. In 1865, 
Mr. Whitney was appointed financial agent of Denison 
University and in 1870 treasurer of the Baptist Educational 
Society. He has been an officer in several other religious 
and educational organizations, and in each position, to which 
he has been summoned, he has been efficient and faithful in 
the discharge of duty. He resides at Granville, Ohio. 


Rev. Stephen Gushing, son of Stephen and Eliza (Good- 
ale) Gushing, was born m Boston, March 13, 1813. In the 
spring of 1830 he removed with the family to this town and 
resided here until active labor in the ministry influenced a 
residence in other places. He was a student at the Wesleyan 
Academy at Wilbraham nearly three years and subsequently 
he pursued a partial course of study at the Wesleyan Uni- 
versity at Middletown, Gonnecticut. He was received in the 
New England Gonference of the Methodist Episcopal Ghurch 
in June, 1833, and for the ensuing twenty-four years he 
completed with ability and faithfulness various pastoral 
charges. Answering the demands of impaired health he 
rested a year, and from 1858 to 1880 he supplied the pulpit 
in many churches. His pastorates include Marlboro', 
Winchendon, Princeton, Hubbardston, Southbridge, East 
Gambridge, Newburyport, Ipswich, Lynn, Wilbraham, 
Dorchester, Holliston, Xahant, Stoneham, Maplewood, 
Eeading and Needham in this State, and Eastford and Staf- 
ford in Gonnecticut. 

Mr. Gushing has made several valuable contributions to 
the general and local history of Methodism in this country. 
He preached the semi-centennial discourse in this town which 
is mentioned in another chapter, and in 1883 at the annual 
session of the Gonference in Boston he delivered an address 
reviewing the progress of the church during the half century 
since his admission to the ministry. For many years he has 
efficiently served the Gonference as secretary and trustee 
and since 1881 he has been its treasurer. In these varied 
and responsible employments he has enjoyed the merited 
approbation of his associates. 

Eev. Andrew Jaquith, son of Benjamin and Rebecca 
(Spaulding) Jaquith, was born in Ashby, March 7, 1816. 
He resided several years in the north part of this town. He 


attended the Oneida Institute three years beginning in 1832, 
and several years subsequently he pursued a course of theo- 
logical study and was ordained and installed over the Congre- 
gational church in Langdon, New Hampshire, in 1860. He 
was devoted to the duties and labors of his profession and 
was held in high esteem by his parish. He died August 27, 

De. George Washington Scollay, son of Grover and 
Sally (Stowell) Scollay, w^as born in this town, April 13, 
1819. In the spring of 1839 he went to St. Louis, Missouri, 
and in the autumn of that year he entered an institution of 
learning in Hillsboro', Illinois, where he remained two years 
and subsequently he pursued the prescribed course of study 
in the Medical Department of Kemper College, St. Louis, 
and graduated 1843. The succeeding ten years he was 
engaged in the practice of his profession in Shelby ville, 
Illinois, and for the past twenty-five years he has resided in 
Washington, D. C, and the city of New York. 

Rev. Ari Rayiviond, son of Daniel and Sally (Green) 
Raymond, was born in Ashby, May 7, 1820, but removed 
to this town in infancy. He prepared for the ministry 
and has preached and resided at Oro, Bell Ewart and other 
places in Canada. 

Dr. Ariel Ivers Cummings, son of Ariel and Malison 
(Currier) Cummings, was born in this town, June 11, 1823. 
He pursued the study of medicine at Dartmouth Medical 
College and graduated at the University of the city of New 
York, 1851. After a brief practice in Acworth, New Hamp- 
shire, Dr. Cummings removed to Roxbury where he con- 
tinued in active and successful practice until 1862. In the 
mean time he was a member of the school committee and 
occupied other positions of trust. Having made a study of 
law in the office of Hon. William Gaston, he received the 


degree of Doctor of Laws from Harvard University 1858, 
but he adhered to the practice of his chosen profession. The 
same year Dartmouth College conferred the honorary degree 
of Master of Arts. 

In the summer of 1862 Dr. Cummino^s was amono^ the 
volunteer sui-geons who went to the relief of the army under 
General McClellan. Later he was sent from Fortress Monroe 
to Portsmouth Grove, Ehode Island, with two ship loads of 
sick and wounded soldiers. From this service he was sum- 
moned to Boston to fill the appointment of surgeon of the 
Forty-second Eegiment. This regiment left Camp Meigs 
November 21, 1862, and on the second of December three 
companies with Colonel Isaac S. Burrill, Surgeon Cummings 
and other officers embarked on a transport for New Orleans, 
where they arrived on the sixteenth. Before the arrival of 
the remaining companies of the regiment, Colonel Burrill and 
his small command was ordered to the support of Galveston 
and there after a gallant defence, which forms a thrilling 
incident of the war, the command became prisoners of war. 
Dr. Cummings was confined within the rebel lines but was 
allowed to attend his fellow prisoners and to visit the sick 
among the residents of the surrounding country. He died 
at Hempstead, Texas, September 9, 1863. 

Professor Levi W. Eussell, son of Ward and Mary 
A. (Eussell) Eussell, was born in this town, February 15, 
1831. His early education was obtained in the public 
schools of his native town, of which he was subsequently a 
popular teacher in several districts. He continued his ad- 
vanced studies at the Appleton Academy in New Ipswich, 
and was later under the able tuition of Prof. William Eus- 
sell, in his excellent schools at Eeed's Ferry, New Hamp- 
shire, and at Lancaster. For more than twenty-five years 
Mr. Eussell has been an efficient instructor. His first 


continuous field in the calling of his choice was in the High 
Street Grammar School of Fitchburg, where he labored 
seven years. After a successful management of the Central 
Grammar School of Watertown, early in 1869 he became 
principal of the Bridgman School of Providence, Ehode 
Island. During his able management, this school has 
graduated over one thousand pupils and every year has con- 
tributed to the popularity and reputation of his administra- 
tion. In addition to his uninterrupted employment as an 
instructor, Mr. Eussell has delivered many addresses at 
teachers' institutes and at other educational assemblies. 

Dr. Leonard Woods, son of Samuel and Mary (Cald- 
well) Woods, was born in Ashburnham, July 5, 1840. 
Graduated at Harvard Medical School 1868, and practised 
at Maiden until 1873, when he removed to Pittsford, Ver- 
mont, where he died December 11, 1885. A man of 
unblemished character and fair abilities, he won the merited 
confidence and esteem of the community in which he lived 
and labored. 

Dr. Emily Metcalf, a daughter of Joel F. and Martha 
(Davis) Metcalf, was born in Ashburnham, May 25, 1841. 
Miss Metcalf pursued a full course of professional study and 
graduated at the Boston University School of Medicine in 
1877. In the same year she removed to Waltham where 
she early secured a large and lucrative practice. For several 
years, in addition to professional labor in Waltham, Dr. 
Metcalf was a member of the Faculty of Lasell Seminary 
at Auburndale. While holding this position, which was 
interrupted by an increasing business at home, she visited 
the school almost daily and delivered frequent lectures upon 
subjects allied to her profession. In practice Dr. Metcalf 
has adhered to the theories of the Eclectic School of Medi- 
cine. She has been eminently successful and has commanded 
the respect and confidence of her patrons. 


Dr. Charles H. Rice, son of Silas and Almira (Corey) 
Rice, was born in Ashburnham, February 19, 1843. In his 
childhood the family removed to Ashby. He attended the 
public schools of that town and subsequently graduated at 
Appleton Academy, New Ipswich, 1863. Dr. Rice studied 
medicine with Dr. Emerson of Ashby and graduated at 
Dartmouth Medical College 1865, and at Harvard Medical 
School 1866. He immediately located in Fitchburg where 
he continues in an active and successful practice of his pro- 

Dr. Charles A. Bemis, son of Albert T. and Sarah 
(Hastings) Bemis, was born in this town, September 22, 1843. 
He was educated in the public schools of Ashburnham and 
pursued the prescribed course of professional study, gradu- 
ating at Jefferson Medical College 1872. He practised in 
Spencer two years and removed to Medway in 1874, where 
he remains in active and successful practice. Dr. Bemis is 
vice-president of the Thurbur Medical Association composed 
of the resident allopathic physicians in that vicinity and is 
examining surgeon for pensions. For several years he has 
been a member of the school committee of Medway and an 
efficient member of the Board of Health. 







Paupeeism. — Very meagre, and in some instances no 
reference to the public support of the poor can be found in 
the early history of the towns in this vicinity. Aged and 
infirm people were not invited to the settlements and seldom 
removed from the older towns unless attended by children 
who were able to provide for them a comfortable support. 
Only the industrious husbandman, the mechanic or the man 
of business was welcomed among the sturdy toilers of a new 
settlement. If any came presenting doubtful credentials in 
regard to self-support, he was summarily warned out and 
sometimes attended by the constable to the place from 
whence he came, or to the town in which he had previously 
gained a legal settlement. The feeble-minded were often 
suffered to wander from door to door, obtaining food from 
the open hand of charity, savored with words of kindness 
and .sympathy. The attentive care of the poor by the 
neighborhood prevented not a few from becoming a public 
charge, which accounts, in a measure, for the meagre refer- 
ences to this subject in the early records. 



If there is manliness in a measure of selfishness which 
leads one to cherish and protect his own, there is something 
higher and nobler in a thoughtful charity that lends a helping- 
hand to want and suffering. In all their relations to one 
another our fathers have left a living example of neighborly 
kindness and liberal charity. The misfortunes of accident, 
damage by fire or the loss of domestic animals, were followed 
by substantial expressions of sympathy. Not infrequently 
these friendly offerings were made by those who were more 
impoverished by a single act of charity than had been the 
recipient by the loss which had suggested the generous 
measure of reparation. If a farmer was sick at seed-time, 
his fields were planted and the labor of the season was 
performed by the cheerful hand of attentive neighbors. If 
he recovered fi-om sickness at the close of harvest, he found 
his crop secured and his granaries rejoicing in the gathered 
product of his farm. In every misfortune, in every bereave- 
ment, in every time of need, with eyes suffused with the 
dews of thankfulness, he could behold the thouo:htful deeds 
of a charitable neighborhood. 

In extreme cases of poverty, the officers of the town for 
many years met each application for public support in a 
temporary' and individual manner. The methods adopted 
w^ere as numerous as the needy individuals. Sometimes the 
selectmen provided a cow for the family, sometimes firewood 
and a stipulated amount of provision. Sometimes the abate- 
ment of taxes or the payment of house rent was deemed 
sufficient, but always there was extended an invitation to the 
needy to do something for themselves. These customs and 
methods lead to the conclusion, which is verified by the facts, 
that the first permanent paupers were those who had grown 
old or infirm in the town upon which they had become 


If the early inhabitants of this town frowned on laziness 
and prodigal husbandry, if to charity they added a sermon 
on industry and self-reliance, there is no evidence or tradition 
that they closed " their hand to their brother, to their poor 
and to their needy in the land." The present system of 
public charities, fostered by the Commonwealth, has sprung 
from their humble yet faithful attention to the wants of the 
poor. Many times, unrestrained by law, they exhibited 
more wisdom and humanity than can now be done under a 
complicated code of laws that restrains in rigid lines and 
clothes in the uniform of a system every form of procedure. 

The first record of any public charity in the town of 
Ashburnham occurred in 1778 : ''To see if the town will do 
any thing for Timothy Johnson's wife, who is in needy 
curcumstances." "Voted to help Timothy Johnson's wife 
so that she may be comfortable." The husband was in the 
army and the wife with three children, the eldest not five 
years of age, was entitled to receive aid with a mutual feel- 
ing that the town remained the debtor. 

About the same date the selectmen were instructed '' to 
supply Josiah Dodge with fire wood as they think proper," 
and in 1786 the town granted " 8 cords of wood and 4 bushels 
of Corn and Rie to be given to the widow Euth Conant 
annually." Slie was the aged widow of Ebenezer Conant, 
who died October 24, 1784. In 1792 the town " voted to 
pay for the cow that was bought for Daniel Clark's use," 
and in the same kine spirit the town refused to reconsider 
this generous action when it was proposed at a subsequent 
meeting. In one final and comprehensive manner the town 
disposed of the next case that arose : " Voted to vendue the 
negro boy, brought to the selectmen for the town to main- 
tain, to some suitable man, the lowest bidder, and to give 
him for maintaining said boy one seventh part of the sum 


yearly untill the whole is paid ; said boy was struck off to 
Mr. Jno. Trask at twenty-four pounds: — Voted also that 
the selectmen should bind said boy to said Trask to serve 
him untill he arrives to the age of 21 years." 

The widow of Andrew Windrow, or Winter, as the name 
was written in later years, was occasionally assisted at her 
home for several years. Later the town provided support 
for her in the family of a neighbor where she died March 
14, 1814, aged ninety-one years. The town also provided 
board for the eldest daughter of Dr. Peter Brooks in the 
family of her brother for many years, and assumed the con- 
trol and support of the younger children of Daniel Clark 
during their childhood. 

In the considerate care of others, whose names we need 
not mention, the town gradually adopted a system of either 
providing a home for the unfortunate with their kindred and 
friends or in cases where this course was impossible, of con- 
tracting their support to the lowest bidder. Upon the 
vendue ligt for many years appears the name of Ann Hill, a 
colored woman, who died November 5, 1821, aged seventy- 
six years. This person was generally called Black Ann. It 
is tradition that she was once a slave and that she came to 
this town with the family of Rev. Jonathan Winchester. If 
a slave at that time, she was soon manumitted. 

For many years a man Franklin and wife Susan resided 
here and in their old age were supported by the town. It is 
also asserted that the}^ were brought to this town as slaves. 
On this point tradition needs support. It is easier to infer 
that the negroes in the early settlements were slaves than it 
is to establish the fact. 

The traditions of this town are not agreed either upon the 
condition of these people or, if slaves, to whom they 
belonged. In fact, the most careful inquiry generally has 


been met by the honest answer, "I do not know." The 
opinion of the majority has been respected. It is not cer- 
tain that there ever was a slave within the town of Ash- 

Commencino: with 1821 and continuino; until the town 
purchased a farm and established an almshouse, the support 
of all the poor was awarded to the lowest bidder. In these 
contracts, sometimes for one year and sometimes for a longer 
period, it was stipulated that the contractor "should board, 
lodge, clothe, doctor and nurse them in a comfortable manner 
and that the children should attend school in the district 
where they were supported." In the records, the person who 
contracted or undertook to support the poor was invariably 
styled the "undertaker." Such employment of an under- 
taker for the poor was innocent and proper, but some other 
term would have been less suggestive. 

The purchase of a farm was under consideration several 
years. Committees were frequently appointed and conflict- 
ing recommendations followed in rapid succession. A report 
made in 1832 is the most noticeable of any on the subject : 

The Committee, appointed to take into conbideration the best 
method of supporting the Poor, have attended to that subject and 
beg leave to report : As we shall always have the poor with us it 
is our duty in the cause of supporting that ill-fated class to adopt 
that method which will at the same time conduce to their comfort 
and make our burden lighter. In accordance with these views we 
have inquired of towns which have in former years let them out 
separately or the whole to one individual ; in this mode of 
supporting their poor they found their bill of expense to increase 
yearly ; in consequence of which they purchased a farm and their 
expenses are now one-third less and the poor better supported 
and much happier. Wa therefore recommend that after the 
expiration of the time for which Mr. Woods took them, to 


purchase a farm and hire a suitable man with a wife to take the 
oversight of the poor and carry on the farm, which we beg 
leave respectful!}' to submit. 


The subject continued to be debated with various degrees 
of interest until March, 1839. At this time Oliio Whitney, 
Joseph F. Burges and Elias Lane were chosen "to buy a 
farm for the use of the Poor." Without delay in 1839 they 
purchased the farm which is still owned and occupied by the 
town. Here many have found a temporary home in an hour 
of adversity and others, less fortunate, have here passed the 
remnant of their earthly career. Lender the direction of a 
board of Overseers of the Poor the management of the insti- 
tution has tendered a comfortable support to the homeless 
and the general system for the maintenance of the poor 
during these years has afforded temporary assistance to 
others who w^ere not removed to the almshouse. The annual 
ex])ense attending the farm wdth an average of ten inmates 
for the past ten years has been $1067.71 and the average 
animal expense incurred in temporary relief to families and 
individuals, not at the almshouse, has been $713.65. 

TiTHiNGMEX were annually chosen from the organization 
of the town until within the memory of many now living. 
The manners and customs of the times are reflected in these 
proceedings: The qualification of a tithingman was a solemn 
presence and great acerbity of countenance. Only the most 
sedate and dignified were considered eligible to the office. 
It was a position of honor and this officer, armed with the 
tithing pole, commanded the respect even if he failed to win 


the admiration of his townsmen. In character and ability 
Tristram Cheney and John Kiblinger, the first tithingmen of 
Ashburnham, had no superiors in the town. If in the light 
of the law these officers were slightly inferior to a constable, 
both in the care exercised in their selection and in the con- 
sideration shown them, they were among the dignitaries of 
the town. They were a sort of ecclesiastical police who 
were enjoined by law and by custom to secure a proper 
observance of the Sabbath and to restrain the youth from 
frivolous conduct durins: the services and the intermission. 

With the refinino: influences, and a hio^her standard of 
personal deportment that attended the progress of years the 
duties of the tithingmen were less exacting and they were 
accredited with a depreciated measure of importance and 
respect. Early in the present century the standard of quali- 
fication was not always maintained. The increasing amount 
of travel and teaming through this town was prompt to take 
advantage of a waning sentiment on the subject, until open 
violation of the Sabbath laws was of frequent occurrence. 
In 1814, for the purpose of creating a more exacting public 
sentiment, several conventions, numerously attended by the 
clergy and laity, were held in Eindge, Phillipston and other 
towns in this vicinity. The effect of this discussion was 
immediate and quite extended. In the autumn of the same 
year and immediately following the convention at Phillips- 
ton the town of Ashburnham "chose Joshua Smith, Esq., 
William J. Lawrence, Captain Silas Willard, Captain John 
Willard, Captain Moses Lawrence, Thomas Hobart and John 
Caldwell a committee to ade and assist the tythingmen and 
other officers in putting the Laws respecting the Lords Day 
in force." 

Thus reenforced and encouraged by an awakened public 
sentiment the officers arrested many persons who were 


violating the law, and detained them until Monday morning. 
The following year the town chose nine tithingmen and 
several towns in this vicinity made choice of an equal or even 
a greater number. Previous to this date only two had been 
elected in any one year. In public sentiment a reaction soon 
followed. The next year the town was satisfied with the 
election of the conventional number. In 1827 only one was 
chosen, while in 1829 there was a complacent vote "not to 
choose tythingmen" and the following year, with a cumu- 
lative purpose, it was voted "not to have any tythingmen 
this year." Again in 1831 and each year until 1836 these 
officers were chosen in accordance with the laws of the 
State, but there is no record during the later years that the 
office was generally accepted or the oath administered. 

Stocks, for the temporary confinement of any who defied 
at once the commands of the constable and the solemn pro- 
prieties of the Sabbath, were built in this town at an early 
date. As the records contain no reference to them, it is 
probable they were constructed by voluntary efibrt. Sixty 
years ago, AA^ith their rusty lock and aged visage, these relics 
of a former generation were to be seen in the hearse house 
on the old common. 

The Toavx House is a substantial building of modest 
pretensions. It continues to meet the requirements of the 
town in a reasonable manner and probably it will answer the 
demands of another generation without any unusual expense 
or the provocation of any serious expression of discontent. 
In its history it vividly reflects both the religion and the 
passions of a former generation. Originally built and occu- 
pied as a house of worship it is an agreeable duty to surround 
its existence on the old common with the memories of the 
pastorate of Mr. Gushing and an era of peaceful and profit- 
able occupancy. With the organization of the first parish 


and the loss of the counsels of an able and faithful minister, 
the trouble between the new parish and the town, concerning 
their respective property rights in the old meeting-house, 
immediately began. Strife is never so contagious nor con- 
tention so speedily fanned into flame, as when war is waged 
between an ecclesiastical and a secular organization. The 
conditions suggested a conflict and the invitation was openly 
accepted. True, the members of the parish were also 
citizens of the town and in this dual character were contend- 
ing with themselves, but this brought the parties into closer 
contact and provoked a more animated conflict. 

Having completed their new house of worship, the first 
parish in 1836 abandoned the old meeting-house on the hill. 
The town, alleging control of the building, at once began to 
debate the expediency of removing it to the village and con- 
verting it into a town house. The parish, continuing to 
assert a property right in it, stoutly resisted and holding the 
key to the building, and practically the key to the situation, 
rallied at each town meeting and successfully opposed any 
encroachment upon their real or assumed rights in the 
premises. The town called many meetings to determine 
what was expedient to be done, and as many times the mem- 
bers of the parish, reenforced by a few in full sympathy with 
them, secured a vote that it was decidedly expedient not to 
do anything. 

. In the mean time the parish turned a cold shoulder to the 
town by the removal of the stove from the old to the new 
meeting-house and, consequently, in cold weather town 
meetings were assembled in the school-house in the first 
district and in the churches in the village. After a pro- 
longed contention, the issues involved were happily com- 
promised in December, 1837, by the adoption on the same 
day by the town and by the parish of concurrent votes, " that 


the parish would relinquish their right in the old meeting- 
house, provided the town will indemnify the parish from all 
claims from the pew-holders." 

The town, having secured the full possession of the build- 
ing, immediately took home the bone of contention and, 
having declared a peace with the parish, was free to institute 
an internal strife among themselves over its location. 

At an earl}^ day a committee of five, to whom the subject 
had been referred, presented a written report oflfering the 
town a choice of five locations ; two being near the s.chool- 
house in the first district, two near the armory and one west 
of the Catholic church. Consistent with its former record, 
the town finally decided that it was not satisfied with any of 
the sites proposed. Another meeting was immediately 
called, at which ten other persons were joined to the exist- 
ing committee of five. The united wisdom of the revised 
committee was reflected in three reports ; eight in favor of a 
lot on land of Charles Hastings, Jr., and substantially the 
site finally selected ; four recommended a site on land of 
Samuel Barrett, near and probably west of the Armory, and 
the remainins: three desired the town to select a lot on land 
of William J. Lawrence, near the store of Parker Brothers. 

The situation was critical. Through many straits the 
town gained possession of the old meeting-house and the 
question of its removal and location was not easily decided. 
The accumulating recommendations of the committee now 
presented a choice of seven lots on which a ballot was taken, 
" and the spot ofiered by Mr. Barrett having the highest 
number of votes was decided to be the spot on which to 
build." Consistent with its previous record on this subject, 
and without an adjournment, the town immediately pro- 
ceeded to reconsider this vote and then decided to locate the 
building on land of Charles Hastings, Jr. The records 
briefly narrate these decisive proceedings : 


Sixty-two voted in favor of said spot and it was declared to be 
a vote. Mr. Hastings proposes to sell bis spot for $200 ; the 
town house to stand 30 feet west of the west end of his house, the 
front to range with the front of the Methodist Meeting House and 
the front window in the west end of his house, to be sufficient land 
to set the house upon with ten feet of land all round the house to 
lie as commons land. 

Voted that the building committee be authorized to take a deed 
of* Mrs. Charles Hastings and make payment of the same. 

Voted that the building committee be instructed to let out the 
town house in two separate lots ; one of the wood and one of the 
stone work. 

Voted that the committee be instructed to build the town house 
of the present size of the old meeting house. 

At a meeting held the following month, January, 1838, 
with the customary honors of w^ar, the town fired a parting 
salute at the receding question in an additional vote : " that 
the committee for building a town house be authorized to 
build the same on either part of the lot purchased of Charles 
Hastings, Jr." 

These 'contested preliminaries being ended, the voice of 
discord is succeeded by the less strident noise of the saw and 
the more conclusive aro^uments of the hammer. The old 
meeting-house is dismembered, the odor of sanctity is 
brushed from its timbers and in a new place it again assumes 
its old form but not its original character. The ancient 
edifice with its porches, its square, pen-like pews, its lofty 
pulpit and sounding-board was no more. 

The town house was a new structure erected from the 
material of the old but retaining none of its sacred memories 
and hallowed associations. Degraded from the sacred uses 
to which it had been solemnly dedicated, a spirit of discord 
and contending passions continued to hover around it. Con- 
tention arose with John Hastings who built the basement, 


and again with Artemas Maynard who erected the fence on 
a contract with the town. L^gal proceedings were insti- 
tuted and the disputes were transferred from their familiar 
locality to the courts. 

In due. course of time the law-suits were adjusted and 
every one concerned was invited to the reflection that the 
general afiairs of the town house had been quite thoroughly 
debated and permanently settled. Only one item of business 
remained and to that outstanding question the attention of 
the town was promptly directed, whereupon it was "voted 
that the selectmen take charge of the ke}^ to the town 

Union Hall. — This buildino: in the South Villao-e was 
built in 1860 and the cost was met by voluntary subscrip- 
tions and the proceeds of several public entertainments. 
Commencing with January, 1860, several meetings w^ere 
held which made known a strong public sentiment in favor 
of the erection of such a building for the convenience of 
that portion of the town. Under the favorable auspices of 
unanimity, the preliminary arrangements were quickly 
matured. John M. Pratt, Jonathan H. Piper and James L. 
Worcester w^ere chosen trustees, and, subsequently, Reuben 
Pufier was chosen to succeed Mr. Worcester. With this 
exception, the board of trust remains unchanged to the 
present time. The store recently finished is rented, but the 
remainder of the building is reserved for the use of the 
community and afibrds convenient accommodation for social 
and reliojious meetino^s. 

Post Offices. — In the early administration of the postal 
system of the United States, post offices were located at 
accessible points and on the lines of established mail-routes 
without much regard to the centre of population. Fre- 
quently, small villages were granted postal facilities at the 



expense of more populous communities less fortunately 
situated. In 1811 the first post office was established in 
this town. At that date there were 2403 post offices in the 
whole country and mails were transported in coaches, in 
sulkies and on horseback about one hundred thousand miles. 
These figures are exceedingly small when brought into com- 
parison with the statistics of the present time, but they con- 
stitute a part of the record of the expansion and develop- 
ment of the United States and the multiplied operations of 
all the departments of Government. 

A post office had been established several years previously 
in Westminster, and from that office were received the 
weekly papers and the few letters which were sent through 
the mails. Joseph Jewett was the first postmaster in this 
town, his appointment being dated January 23, 1811. The 
office was accommodated in the store, long known as the 
Jewett store, a building now owned and occupied by Charles 
Hastings. The next postmaster was Samuel Woods who 
was appointed May 22, 1826, and he was succeeded by Dr. 
Otis Abercrombie, November 5, 1827. Mr. Woods was 
also a merchant in the same store and Dr. Abercrombie lived 
near by, and the office during their service was not removed. 
Dr. Abercrombie was not long a resident of this town and 
his official career was still more limited. Within a few 
weeks, December 19, 1827, Samuel Barrett was appointed 
and the office for the first time was removed. This appoint- 
ment was made for political reasons, but he made an excel- 
lent officer and was continued in the position many years. 
Mr. Barrett for a time had the office in the Deacon Lawrence 
house, more recently occupied by the late Ivers White and, 
subsequently, removed it to a building which stood many 
years at the head of Central street, a few yards west of the 
residence of Mrs. J. W. Foster. 



The next postmaster was Ivers White who was appointed 
June 19, 1851 ; he was succeeded on political considerations, 
June 1, 1853, by Israel W. Knight, who removed the office 
into the hotel. In these quarters it did not long remain. 

December 15, following, Samuel V. Whitney was ap- 
pointed his successor, who removed the office to a store 
on the site of the residence of George C. Winchester. 
Soon after the present post office was built and Mr. Whitney 
Avas the first j)ostmaster in the building where the office, 
through several appointments, has remained to the present 

The next postmaster was Charles Winchester whose com- 
mission was dated July 7, 1856. He was succeeded, March 
21, 1861, as an inspiration of political sagacity, by George 
C. Winchester, who held the position over fifteen years. 
Mrs. Ermina L. Evans was appointed August 7, 1876, and 
Elliot A. Maynard, the present incumbent, was commissioned 
January 2, 1886. For many years, commencing in 1856, 
the office was ably conducted by Jerome W. Foster, Esq. 

A portion of the early records of the Post Office Depart- 
ment at Washington were burned many years ago, and as a 
continuous record is inaccessible, no effort has been made to 
procure the statistics of this office. The revenue for the year 
ending July 30, 1883, was $1750.71. The mail was brought 
to Ashburnham Centre many years on the Worcester stage, 
owned by Charles Stearns and later by Ivers White and 
others. Upon the carriage of the mails by the railroads, the 
Cheshire Eailroad contracted with the department to carry 
the mail between the depot and Ashburnham Centre, from 
July, 1849, to July, 1853, at ninety-four dollars per annum. 
For the ensuing ten years the service was performed by C. 
Marshall at one hundred dollars per annum. He was 
succeeded after a few months as contractor by George J. 


Metcalf. From December 15, 1863, to April 30, 1867, the 
contractor was John L. Cook, at one hundred and ten dollars 
per annum, who was succeeded by Clarence M. Proctor, who 
continued in contract until the carriage of the mail was 
assumed by the Ashburnham Railroad, receiving for the last 
part of the time two hundred dollars per annum. 

The Ashburnham Depot Post Office, with John M. Frost, 
postmaster, was established May 11, 1850, and was accom- 
modated in the depot for several years. The second post- 
master was Lewis How^ard who was appointed April 13, 
1857, and he was succeeded October 25, 1860, by John B. 
Day. The next postmaster was David E. Poland, appointed 
August 22, 1864. Upon the appointment of Wilbur F. 
Whitney, Esq., April 1, 1872, he removed the office to the 
building in which it still remains. Miss Amelia J. Cushing 
was appointed March 5, 1875, and Miss Susan C. Rice, the 
present incumbent. May 16, 1881. The revenue for the 
fiscal year ending June 30, 1883, Avas $395.67. 

The Burrageville Post Office was established December 
12, 1854. This office was kept in the Burrage store until 
about the time William F. Burrage removed from this town. 
Later, it has been kept in the depot. The succession of post- 
masters and date of appointment is as follows : Charles W. 
Burrage, December 12, 1854; John W. Fay, October 3, 
1859 ; William F. Burrage, June 24, 1861 ; Jonas W. 
Dwinnell, October 29, 1867; George L. Beals, Jr., 
December 15, 1882. At the time of the appointment of 
Mr. Beals, the name of the office was changed to North 
Ashburnham. The revenue for the fiscal year, ending June 
30, 1883, was $69.18. 

The Ashburnham Library was organized in 1793. It 
received no aid from the town and was dependent upon 
voluntary effort. A well preserved book of records affords 



an intelligent account of its proceedings. The rights or 
shares were sold at two dollars. The whole number issued 
was fifty-five, but by the sale and transfer of shares the whole 
number of members during the existence of the organization 
was ninety-eight. In addition to the sums received from the 
sale of shares and from fines, a tax was frequently assessed 
on the membership for the purchase of books. A small sum 
was also received from an occasional sale of books which had 
become familiar to all or were considered undesirable. 
Among the books sold are found, " Robinson Crusoe," " Child's 
Friend," ^^Devout Exercises," "Seraphic Shepherd," "Jockey 
Club," "Herlian Miscellany," "Pilgrim's Progress," "Fool 
of Quality," and others familiar to the times. At an auction 
sale in 1806, Rev. Mr. Cushing purchased " Cardephoria " 
in two volumes for $1.10 ; for the sum of twenty-one cents 
Caleb Ward transferred " Saunders' Travels " to North Ash- 
burnham ; the "Duke of Marlborough " was sold for twenty- 
one cents, while the " Yicar of Wakefield" was struck off at 
sixty-eight cents ; both were safely lodged in the house of 
Captain J. Willard ; Cyrus Fairbanks invested thirty-nine 
cents in " Religious Courtship," and on the payment of forty- 
three cents "Family Instructor" was carried to the home of 
Elisha White. 

After an existence of forty years, in 1833 the organization 
was dissolved by mutual consent. The books were divided 
into fifty-five parcels and distributed by lot among the owners 
of the shares. The sale of the empty book-case to pay any 
outstanding debt and a vote to donate the balance if any to 
the library of the Sabbath-school are the closing entries in 
the records. The several librarians were Rev. John Cushing, 
Joseph Jewett, Abraham Lowe, David Cushing, William J. 
Lawrence, Ivers Jewett, Doddridge Cushing and Samuel 
Woods. The constitution, which with slis^ht changes re- 


mained in force during the existence of the organization, was 
probably drafted by Mr. Gushing. It is a plain, comprehen- 
sive instrument, and in a provision that the penalty for "every 
drop from a candle shall be one penny for every shilling in 
the value of the book," it suggests the changes which have 
marked the progress of years. 

About 1850 the Ladies' Library Association was organized 
and a limited collection of books of approved character was 
continued by renewals until 1884. The volumes then re- 
maining in possession of the organization were donated to 
the town and became the nucleus of the present Public 
Library. Upon the acceptance of the donation the town 
appropriated three hundred and fifty dollars for new books, 
and an increasing interest in the library has been manifested. 
The present number of volumes is 1700. Li 1885 and again 
in 1886 the town has donated three hundred dollars to 
sustain and enlarge the library. The Executive Committee 
are George W. Eddy, George M. Munroe, Nathan Eaton, 
Mary S. Barrett and Mortimer M. Stowe. 

The First National Bank of Ashburnham was organized 
April 3, 1873, and commenced business in August following. 
The capital stock is fifty thousand dollars. From the first 
an able and prudent management has secured the merited 
confidence of the community. Giving preference to local 
business the bank has been of essential service to the business 
interests of the town. The orio^inal board of directors were 
Dr. A. T. Low^e of Boston, George W. Eddy, George H. 
Barrett, Walter E. Adams, George C. Winchester, Addison 
A. Walker, John L. Cummings, Ohio Whitney, I vers 
Adams and Elbridge Stimson. The four first named are 
members of the present board with whom has been joined at 
several annual elections George F. Stevens, Moses P. 
Greenwood, Marshall Wetherbee, Wilbur F. Whitney and 


Walter O. Parker. For several years George C. Winchester 
was president, George W. Eddy cashier and George F. 
Stevens teller. Since 1879 Mr. Eddy has been president 
and Mr. Stevens cashier. 

The Ashburnham Savings Bank was organized 1871 
and closed business 1879. The institution was conducted 
prudently and for the accommodation of home deposits. 
During the depression in business which cast a gloom over 
this town in 1878 and 1879 the deposits were withdrawn to 
such an extent and the future was attended with so much 
uncertainty that the loans were collected and every depositor 
paid in full. The bank w^as continued eight years and 
reasonable dividends were paid on all deposits. The presi- 
dents of the institution were George C. Winchester and 
Captain Addison A. Walker ; George W. Eddy was the only 
treasurer ; the secretaries were Colonel George H. Barrett 
and George F. Stevens. 

The Farmers' and Mechanics' Club was organized in 
January, 1878. During the winter season the club has held 
frequent meetings for conference and a discussion of subjects 
connected with their calling. These meetings are well sus- 
tained and have been of mutual interest and benefit to the 
members. Under the auspices and direction of this organi- 
zation, the town has held eight agricultural fairs and all of 
them have been successful. The presidents of the club in- 
clude Francis A. Whitney, two years ; Walter R. Adams, 
two years ; Charles E. Woodward, three years, and George 
C. Foster. The secretaries have been Walter H. Laws, 
Charles T. Litch, George F. Corey, Charles E. Woodward, 
Walter B. Whitney and Francis A. Whitney. Walter O. 
Parker has been treasurer from the beginning. The organi- 
zation holds property and money to the amount of about five 
hundred dollars. 


Pounds. — The restraint of domestic animals and an 
equitable adjustment of the rights of the public and of 
individuals were fruitful topics of legislation in every new 
settlement. The annals of Ashburnham inform us that, 
for fifty-four years, or until 1818, the town annually "voted 
to let swine run at large this year," and in faithful recogni- 
tion of the rights of the public, a goodly number of hog 
reeves were chosen each year to see that vagrant swine were 
ringed and yoked according to law. Pounds for the confine- 
ment of domestic animals are a precautionary measure. 
Like some of our criminal laws, their chief use is in the 
prevention of offences. The prudent citizens of Ash- 
burnham favored the erection of a pound more as a threat 
or warning against trespass than in the expectancy of its 
frequent use. The first pound was built in 1772. Twenty- 
one years later a new one was erected in the southwest 
corner of the common, which was thoroughly repaired in 
1819. At this date an unsightly heap of ruins remains as a 
witness to the truth of this narrative, and vividly reminding 
the present generation of an ancient prophecy, " For the 
stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the 
timber shall answer it." 

Bounty on Wild Animals. — Proximity to the moun- 
tains, the great number of ponds and streams and the broad 
expanse of the original forest continued to attract wild 
animals to this vicinity after their disappearance from less 
inviting haunts. The ravages of wolves upon the sheepfold 
and the frequent depredation of other tenants of the forest 
are the theme of the early traditions of the town. In the 
petition of Joshua Henshaw, recited in another chapter, is 
the declaration that the value of young cattle, sheep and 
swine annually destroyed was greater than the province 
tax. A few of the many measures adopted for the extermi- 
nation of wild animals are transcribed. 


1779. ''Voted to ^ive as a bounty thirty pounds for every 
wolf that shall be killed in this town before the last day of May 

Thirty pounds at that time in depreciated paper money 
would be a fair compensation for ten days' labor and the 
bounty was subsequently increased to compensate for the 
continued depreciation of the currency. 

1818. '' Voted to give a bounty on Wild Cats, viz : one dollar 
for Old Cats and fifty cents for Kittens. 

" Voted that the selectmen be the committee for examining the 
Cats, when brought in for bount}'." 

The selectmen are not complimented in this use of capital 
letters, yet they could view the record and consider its im- 
port with greater complacency than could the cats. This 
bounty was continued several years and either because a 
scarcity of the wild cats made their capture more difficult or 
their increasing numbers made them more troublesome, the 
bounty was increased to twice the amount first proposed. 
Letters of marque and reprisal were issued for one year on 
foxes, and at intervals of time extending to a comparatively 
recent date, the town has ofiered a bounty on crows. This 
bounty was first proposed in 1789 : 

Voted to give each person one shilling and six pence for each 
old crow killed in this town and nine pence for a young one. The 
birds heads to be brought to the selectmen and their bills cut off. 

All the foregoing were town bounties. Fifty years ago 
the Commonwealth authorized the selectmen of towns to pay 
a bounty on foxes. During the early existence of the law, 
about one fox a week was the death rate in the persecuted 
family of Eeynard. Within two years the accomplished 
hunters of Ashburnham laid at the feet of the selectmen 
ninety-six foxes and with their trophies carried away as many 
half dollars. 


The Thief Detecting Society is a mutual organization 
for home protection. It is a lock upon the stable door and 
its chief office is the prevention of crime. It is a living 
presence armed with law, and a perpetual terror to every 
class of thieves and kleptomaniacs. The organization is 
voluntary and the enthusiasm in which it has been main- 
tained- is spontaneous and perennial. Except the annual 
meetings for the choice of officers and an occasional supper 
at the public inn the only history connected with the organi- 
zation is found in its origin. More than fifty years ago, in a 
single night, a horse was stolen from Colonel Charles Bar- 
rett, a chaise from Rev. George Goodyear, and when the 
returns were all in, it was found that a harness had been 
purloined from Samuel Woods. It is probable that the 
thieves had previously obtained possession of a whip, and if 
human slavery had been perpetuated in Ashburnham, it is 
easy to presume that they would have stolen a coachman. 
The stolen horse was valuable, the chaise was the accustomed 
vehicle of communication between the pastor and his flock, 
and the harness had aided the successful issue of the robbery. 
This compound felony and trespass upon the rights and 
property of the inhabitants occurred in 1834, and imme- 
diately the Thief Detecting Society was organized. The 
by-laws exact a modest admission fee and in this wise pro- 
vision the organization renews its youth and continues a 
vigorous existence. The society lost its first case, for those 
early thieves escaped detection ; but as a preventive measure, 
the history of the town asserts its success. The illustrated 
hand-bills issued by the society is a significant proclamation 
to thieves and a special terror to those on horseback. 

The South Ashburnham Military Band was organized 
in 1885. There are twenty members including a few who 
reside in Ashburnham Centre. Thomas Edwards is leader, 



and the band, containing several experienced musicians, has 
become an efficient organization. At different times for 
nearly fifty years, there have been several good bands and 
orchestras at the Centre, but death, removal from town and 
the retired list have usurped the names of the skilful players 
of a former and a more musical period. 

The Poavder House, with a serene yet solemn counte- 
nance, overlooks the village of Ashburnham. Through 
three generations it has been a trustworthy custodian of the 
inflammable material committed for safe keeping to its 
gloomy recesses. It was erected and has been maintained 
by the unanimous voice of the town. Concerning its erec- 
tion, only a single reference is found in the records : "Voted 
to build a powder house of brick, and set it so as to convene 
Col. Jewett for the safe keeping of his powder, he giving ten 
dollars extraordinary towards building the house." " Chose 
Esq. Wilder, Col. Jewett and Capt. Cushing a committee to 
build said house." It was built in 1798. Mr. Jewett died 
before the building was erected and Lieutenant John Gates 
was chosen to supply the vacancy . As a work of art the 


powder house suggests no enthusiasm, and as an object of 
utility its loss could be easily supplied. But the village has 
become accustomed to its presence, and to all it remains a 
familiar object in the landscape. If removed the local asso- 
ciations of many years would be broken and the vision would 
rest upon the hillside unsatisfied. Like many objects and 
landmarks familiar to our daily lives or to the recollections 
of youth, the powder house is not so fully prized in its con- 
tinued presence as it would be deplored in its loss. 

The accompanying illustration will lend assurance to the 
absent sons and daughters of Ashburnham that the old 
powder house still remains on the hillside and in the presence 
of the soldiers they will read the prophecy that it will not 
be left without defence. The soldiers seen in the accom- 
panying engraving are Lieutenant Charles H. White, 
Sergeants Freeman and Willard, Corporals Howe and 
Young and Private Whipple of Company E. 

Population. — The population of this town reached the 
highest point in 1855. The loss shown by the census of 
1880 was only temporary, and was occasioned by the absence 
of many mechanics during the suspension of business at the 
chair factory in the central village. The following record 
of the population of Ashburnham includes the colonial census 
of 1776, the United States census for every tenth year since 
1790, and State census for every tenth year since 1855. 



































The Churchyard. — The proprietors of Dorchester 
Canada reserved ten acres on "the hill with a very fair 
prospect" for a common and a cemeter}^ In this measure 
they found many precedents in the proceedings of the older 
towns. Yet seldom was a site selected with equal unanimity 
of sentiment or at an earlier date in the progress of a settle- 
ment. It was presumed that the common set apart in 1736 
was to include a burying-ground, and the dead were