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A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 



THOMAS C. AMORY 



BOSTON: 

PRINTED BY DAVID CLAPP & SON 
18 7 2. 



.V3A5 



Reprinted from the New-England Historical and Genealogical Eegister. 






A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 



As Americans, we look with admiration and some degi'ee of envy on sub- 
stantial structures of other days that delight us abroad. We have indeed very 
few of our own. We know something of our progenitors. Tradition tells 
us of their character and household virtues. Smybert and Blackburn, Cop- 
ley and Stuart reveal to us their personal appearance. History often 
records their public services. The institutions they planted, their works 
of utility need no other monument. But we should have been better pleased 
had they also left us more frequent memorials of their daily life. If their 
means and social condition admitted of no costly abodes, many such as they 
had have jierished, which might well have been preserved. A few remain, 
others are still remembered of which some account should be transmitted to 
coming generations. Some of these in their pristine condition were models 
of elegance and taste, and would compare favorably in comfort and con- 
venience with any of modern contrivance. 

It is a great and laudable achievement to erect a stately edifice or even 
a dwelling of more moderate pretensions, comjilete in detail and arrange- 
ment, faultless as a work of art yet precisely adapted to its use. Where 
the organ of construction has liberal development, to conjure up out of 
airy nothings or dim visions of the past, pleasant abodes such as Le Sage 
created for his hero, castles such as Spain has been ever famed for, affords 
diversion from graver thought. In the seemingly endless watches of the 
night, on weary pilgrimages or when the brain is quickened into fever, such 
indulgence soothes and tranquillizes beyond poppy or chloroform. It is an 
inexpensive pastime, modificatious of plan entail no ruinous consequences, 



6 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

nor is it necessary to pull down in order to rebuild. But should attempt be 
made to transform our dream into substantial realities, what was fair enough 
to dwell upon reduced to possession proves extremely incommodious. Great 
praise is justly due to the skill, that, without servile imitation, designs what 
is at the same time original and artistic, yet meets every want of the actual 
occupant. 

Visitors at Abbotsford may giieve over the load of embarrassment imder 
which dear old Sir Walter bore up for years so bravely, that he might live 
like baron bold of the border, midst tower and battlement, wide spread fields 
and woods. Yet they cannot but be forcibly impressed with the exquisite 
beauty of the structure ; the good sense that planned the distribution of its 
ajDartments. Happier perhaps if his romance in stone and mortar had been 
transmitted through a long line of iron clad progenitors, and reached him 
unencumbered and with modern improvements. Had this been however 
the case, he would not have realized the enjoyment of its erection, or reared 
a far more enduring monument than Walpole's at Strawberry, to give 
jjleasure ages hence to his admirers. As time grows the lichen on its wall^ 
will come and pass beneath its roof many a sadder proof that all is vanity ; 
and doubtless with vicissitudes, heir looms of our lot, a reasonable share 
of substantial happiness be experienced by its various inmates. 

In that old world beyond the sea, admirable relics of*antiquity, such as 
Ingelheim, where Charlemagne a thousand years ago first opened his eyes 
upon the world, Cluny, where seven hundred later the father of Mary Queen 
of Scots was married, Rheinstein and Stolzeufelz, Chillon and Dijon, 
Guy's Clitf and Haddou are precious mementoes of by-gone days. What 
we have here in New-England of any pretension to age, dates back at 
the farthest but two centuries and a third. The venerable brick mansion 
of Cradock, first governor under the charter, on a grant of thirty-five hun- 
dred acres in Medford, which jjarliamentary duties in troubled times prevent- 
ed his ever coming over to enjoy, is a fine specimen of eld. Near Portsmouth 
is another of the same period, material and description, which has come 
down to us in excellent preservation, and which has been uninterruptedly 
occupied by the same name and blood, eight generations of whom have been 
born within its walls. Nor is this last a solitary instance. The Woodman 
Hovise in Durham, Fairbanks in Dedham, Curtis in what was Roxbury, now 
Boston, have passed from parent to child in the same families as long. 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. i 

Others exist or have recently existed, of which nearly the same may be stated, 
while numberless more somewhat modernized, and which have changed 
owners in other ways than by inheritance, still stand replete with valuable 
suggestion as to the mode of life of our ancestors. 

It is not pretended that the dwelling proposed to be recalled to the mind 
of many who cannot have quite forgotten its exquisite i)roportions possessed 
any very especial claim to notice from historical or romantic associations. 
It was simply a delightful home such as abounded about Boston, and else- 
where in New-England, a century ago, and yet presenting as fair a picture 
as could then be found of domestic elegance and comfort. The mansion 
itself, tlie second and probably destined to be the last ever upon the spot, was 
erected early in the last centmy, and was subsequently occupied but by two 
or three diflferent proprietors, when it passed in 1800 into possession of the 
family who now own the estate. It was occupied by them as their abode 
down to the middle of this century, surviving the venerable church which 
with plain front and noble interior stood opposite and which gave place 
forty years ago to the present Trinity. The beautiful thoroughfare on 
which it stood long richly merited its name from its multitudinous and over- 
spreading branches and the vernal splendors that decked its gardens. 

It is worthy of note that the property, which was the site of this handsome 
edifice, has been neither enlarged nor diminished from the earliest days of 
the settlement. Its several bounds are the same now as when entered on the 
Book of Possessions.^ It is not every one who has heard of that ancient volume. 
To compare small things with great, its resemblance in character to Domesday 
must have often occurred to conveyancers. Sixteen years after the conquest of 
the mother land, King William had that inquest made of English tenures, and 
about as long after the Puritan Fathers settled in Boston the ownership of 
estates was similarly defined and guarded. Bounds and measurements of 
grants, made under the pressure of other cares and which had become 
matter of dispute, were ascertained by survey or by each owner bringing in 
the limits of his claim, and duly recorded. This record is the fountain head 
from which are derived the titles of property now occupied by a quarter of a 
million of people, and worth several hundred millions of dollars. 



1 As these returns were made by order of the general court, similar volumes are found 
in one or two of the earlier settlements. 



8 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

On that record this estate is recognized as the garden of Gamaliel "Wayte. 
Whether Gamaliel dwelt there is not mentioned, but he had in 1642 another 
lot on the south side of Mill street where he i^robably resided- His son John 
had a house upon the land when he sold it sixty years later, in 1694, 
to John Leavensworth. The father lived till his eighty-seventh year, and 
is mentioned by Judge Sewall in his diary as having had, not long before 
his death, several new teeth. He may, like the humpbacked Richard, have 
been born with some of those then renewed, for what alone is known of his 
history indicates that he was earlier by no means a negative character. 
He had come over with Edward Hutchinson, in all probability as his farmer, 
since he is described on the records as a planter. He joined the church 
in 1633, but participating in the antinomian heresies of Mrs. Hutchinson, 
placing his faith and hope in grace and not in works, he was amongst 
those who threatening violence were in 1637 disarmed by the authorities. 
If he died Dec. 9, 1685, as recorded, he must have been born in 1598. Two 
of his sous are mentioned by Farmer, as cited ante, vol. xxiv., p. 103 : 
Samuel born in 1661, and John who inherited and sold the Summer-street 
estate. John is supposed to be the same who was settled in Maiden, and sent 
thence from 1666 to 1684 to the general court, the latter year being sjieaker. 
He also served as juror in Boston, at the trials for witchcraft in 1680. Rich- 
ard, probably a brother of Gamaliel, as he died 1678, aged 82, held the 
office of marshal, and both Richard and Return were members of the now 
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. 

It should not be forgotten that the land is described in the Book of 
Possessions, as Wayte's garden. From the superior excellence of its fruits 
there long prevailed an impression, of course unfounded, that it had belonged 
to one of the Huguenots, who came here when driven from France, and who 
were famous for their taste and skill in horticulture. This very spring 
1870, has blossomed within its limits a tall and at the time still thrifty 
pear tree, which by antiquaries in horticulture may well have been deemed 
coeval wdth Gamaliel himself, as ancient as that of Governor Stuyvesant in 
New- Amsterdam. 

John Leavensworth, to whom John Wayte conveyed the property, is not 
mentioned by Savage, nor is his name in the index of our probate re- 
cords. He did not hold it long, but mortgaged it the same year to Simeon 
Stoddard, a wealthy merchant, w^hose father Anthony married, for his first 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TI3IE. 9 

wife, the sister of Sir George Downing. Simeon, born in 1651, entered 
tlirice into the bonds of wedlock: first with Mary in 1()7G, again with the 
widow of Col. Samuel Shrimpton in 1709, and in 1715 with Mehitabel 
Minot, who had previously married Thomas Cooper and Peter Sergeant. 
At what time he foreclosed the mortgage is not known, nor does it appear 
that he himself ever occupied the estate for his own abode. He died Oct. 
18, 1730, having three years before sold it to Leonard Vassall. 

The name of Vassall is honorably connected with the Massachusetts 
colony from its earliest period. William and Samuel, sons of the gallant 
John, an alderman of London, who, in 1588, at his own expense, fitted out 
and commanded two ships of war with which he joined the royal navy to 
oppose the Spanish Armada, were among the original patentees in 1G28. 
William came over with Winthrop in 1630, settled in Scituate in 1634, 
but provoked by the persecution of the Episcoi^alians returned to England 
in 16-46, and died in Barbadoes in 1655. He left daughters married in 
this country, and a son, Capt. John Vassall, who sold his estate in Scituate 
in 1661, and removed as is supposed also to England. 

Samuel never came over. He was a merchant of London, alderman, and 
in 1640-41 a member of parliament. The handsome monument in King's 
Chapel, Boston, erected to his memory by Florentius, of Jamaica, his great- 
grandson, recites his public services. His son John jjurchased large tracts 
of land in Jamaica and settled there, having married Ann, the daughter of John 
Lewis, Esq., an English resident of Genoa. They had two sons. William, 
the eldest, was father of Florentius, and through his son Richard, grandfather 
of Elizabeth, who married Sir Godfrey Webster, and in 1797 Henry 
Richard Fox, third Lord Holland, and died in London Nov. 17, 1845. She 
is described as possessed of remarkable talents, brilliant, witty and endowed 
with many personal graces. Holland House while she presided there main- 
tained its celebrity, as the favorite haunt of British authors and statesmen, 
and many from other countries and especially from America were among 
its frequent and valued guests. It is now yielding to the resistless growth 
of the great metropolis, and the excellent Lord Hollands have come to an end. 
But their generous hospitality in its spacious halls has been too often 
subject of comment to be speedily forgotten. 

Leonard Vassall, born in Jamaica in 1678, married there, Ruth Gale, 
born in 1785, and by her had seventeen children. His second wife was Mrs. 



10 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

Phebe Gross, daughter of Samuel Penhallow, by Mary daughter of Presi- 
dent John Cutt, of Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, by whom he had one 
daughter, Anna, born in 1 035, married to John Borland, of Boston. The 
other children who survived him were four sons — Lewis, John, William and 
Henry, all of whom but the youngest graduated at Harvard College re- 
spectively in 1728, 1732, and 1733 ; and four daughters. 

His property mainly consisted of several large plantations in Jamaica, which 
are enumerated in his will. He was perhaps induced to take up his abode 
in New-England from the connection of his progenitors with its settlement. 
It may have been, and it seems more likely, that he was influenced to do so 
by the wish to secure to his children the advantages of education — his sense 
of their value being distinctly exhibited in his will in providing for that 
of his youngest child. 

Leonard proceeded without delay to improve his purchase and erected the 
dwelling which proved so enduring. No evidence exists that it was at any 
subsequent time materially altered, and it is therefore described as recently 
existing. This will leave the imagination of the reader full sway to con- 
jecture any intermediate changes which probability may suggest to him. 

Along the line of Summer street stood a fence about seventy feet in 
length and ten in height, finished in panel work for a short space from the 
ground, the upper portion consisting of top rail and slats about an inch 
square, sufficiently apart to admit of an unobstructed view. In this was a 
large double gate, wide enough for carriages at the southerly end, and a 
smaller one near the house for foot passengers. The house extended along 
the north side of the plot with a main front of more than one hundred feet^ 
with nine windows and two doors in a line below and eleven windows above. 
It was of handsome elevation, with Lutheran windows in the roof, which was 
of the gambrel form, thus presenting at the end towards the street three stories. 
Between the house and the fence was space enough for a large chestnut tree 
overhanging the street. On the ground floor the windows opened on that 
side into a spacious drawing room, lighted also by two others towards the 
court. All the apartments were lofty, unusually so for the period, which 
may be explained by the ftict that Mr. Vassall had long dwelt in a warmer 
climate than that of New-England. 

The drawing room communicated with the hall, from whicli ascended to 
the third floor a broad staircase, adorned to the top with rails and balusters 



A HOME OF *rHE OLDEN TIME. 11 

of richly wrought and highly polished mahogany. This material according 
to tradition was taken from the estate of Mr. Vassall in Jamaica. At the 
landing was a large square window, and there stood the family clock, that 
last in use in the house still counting the centuries and likely to for many to 
come. Beneath this landing was a spacious well-lighted store-room for 
china and the garniture of the table on festal occasions, whence proceeded 
long lines of sweetmeats and preserves — such as the great-grandmothers of 
New-England delighted in, and among them in the days of the A^assalls 
doubtless whatever the tropics could produce. Beyond this hall, which 
opened by a door of hospitable dimensi6ns under a portico and balcony into 
the front court, was the family parlor, or keeping room, thirty feet or more 
in length, with three windows in front on the court, two in recesses on either 
side of the fire-place looking towards the north. When Mr. Salisbury, the 
proprietor of the adjoining estate on that side, erected a stable so as to 
darken these windows, mirrors were substituted in their place. In the mid- 
dle of the court yard, opposite the centre window to the south, stood a large 
English walnut, bearing excellent fruit. 

It is probable that these principal apartments were finished originally in 
arras, tapestry, or wainscoat, as was usual in the best houses of the day. 
Possibly the panels were of pine, red cedar, or even mahogany, as one room 
in a house built a little earlier by Leonard Vassall, now owned and occu- 
pied by the Hon. Charles Francis Adams in Quincy, was so constructed. 
But this is only matter of conjecture. In later days, as fashions changed, 
the walls were jjlastered and covered with the customary wall papers. 

"With their many windows oi)ening towards the south, these rooms were 
especially bright and sunny. Prior to 1807 the grounds adjacent down the 
street were in gardens, or occupied by buildings of little elevation. They 
had been conveyed in 1 680 to the First Church, and were improved by 
them for a parsonage. Here dwelt several of the eminent men who succes- 
sively occupied its pulpit. When the Church was removed from where 
later were built what have been known as Joy's Buildings on Washington 
street, its new edifice was placed on the rear of this lot on Chauncy Place, 
so called, from one of its most distinguished pastors. On the Summer street 
front at the same time was erected a block of four-story brick buildings. 
Ample spaces were still left for light and air, and the northerly end of the 
block was draped to the chimney tops with woodbine, which in autumn 



12 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

exchanged its summer verdure for more brilliant tints. These new edifices, 
impairing but little the cheerfulness of the mansion or its court yard, pro- 
tected both alike from the winter winds and public observation. 

Beyond the keeping room was a capacious entry, out of which mounted a 
second staircase sufficiently commodious, but less richly decorated than that 
in the principal hall. The kitchens, still farther along, were two in number. 
The first was lighted from the court by two windows, with a door opening 
between them. It had one of the old feshioned chimneys of vast dimensions, 
with a smoke-jack revolved by complicated machinery, high up within its 
mysterious recesses. In the corner formed by the projecting chimney was a 
room or lavatory, then used by younger members of the family, who slept 
for health's sake in cold rooms, where the water froze in winter, and who 
completed this part of their toilet below. Under its window was the horse 
tub, where the horses were led to drink. The second kitchen of the same 
size, used as a laundry, receded a little from the front line of the building. 
It contained, among other meritorious arrangements, one large tub in which 
was worked a dumb betty by one of the men, serving about the same pur- 
pose in kneading the clothes as that modern contrivance the patent washer. 

In continuation of these kitchens towards the north line of the estate, was 
a small court suiTouuded by offices of different descriptions, and in front of 
them was a sitting room, or retreat, for the master of the house, with its 
ample grate and a large window looking into the garden, serving the pur- 
pose of an office or library. It j)rojected a few feet from the general line of 
the front of the house, and about twenty feet away was the wall of the 
stable. In this, on the side toward the house, was a long fruit room with 
shelves for pears to ripen, a work or lathe room, and a staircase to a small 
apartment on the level of the hay-loft looking into the garden. 

The sleeping rooms occupied two floors of the mansion, the front one on 
the upper story being peculiarly cheerful, commanding extended views over 
the neighboring gardens. The house abounded in closets, garrets and cellars, 
and was a paradise for good house-keepers. 

From the front gate the vista extended about three hundred feet along 
the court paved with white and blue cobble stones, in fanciful patterns, 
along beds edged with box of roses, seringa, honey-suckle and snow-drops, 
between the stables and garden room, to an octagon summer-house at the 
farther end of the garden. The court-yard, nearly fifty feet by a hundred, 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TI.AH:. 13 

which one of our poets well called baronial, was flanked on the side op- 
posite the house, by a series of six arcades, for the most part filled in with 
panel work to correspond with the fagade of the stable, which was a model 
of good proportion and decoration. When the house, stable and sheds, 
as well as the fences, were all painted of a light straw color, in two tints, 
with flowers and vines, clustering everywhere around and about the build- 
ings, it presented a whole of extreme delicacy and beauty. 

The probate records afford an insight into the plenishing of both house 
and stable in the days of the Vassalls and its subsequent occupants. Horses 
and carriages, plate, j)ictures and books abounded ; nor does the family cow 
escape notice, which, driven daily up Winter street to the Common, when 
the season served, returned at night with distended udders, not of less flavor 
from the charming scenes and grassy slopes of her pasture. 

Mr. Vassall had his summer residence at Braintree now Quinc}-. Many 
other men of fortune passed a portion of the warmer mouths out of town. 
Boston was, however, not so densely peopled, but that there were spaces 
all about him for orchard and for garden. The broad area covered by 
magnificent palaces of trade on either side of what is now Franklin street, 
has been known since the Revolution as Barrel's ])asture. Close by to the 
south and west was the mansion of John Rowe, with enclosures extending 
towards Essex street. The gardens to the north, which belonged to Ed- 
mund Quincy, and purchased on that account by Mr. Salisbury, whose wife was 
Edmund's granddaughter, were as extensive as his own. Many who were well 
able to possess and enjoy country villas, preferred the town, or contented them- 
selves with expeditions into the interior, or along shore, of a few weeks at a 
time, in their own carriages. It was consequently customary to surround 
the dwelling, where space permitted, with gardens and pleasure grounds, and 
though the land attached to the house of the Vassalls was not large, the 
most was made of it. Whoever has realized what can be accomplished in 
limited areas, as for example in the college gardens in England's Cam- 
bridge, or in some of our smaller cities, will easily believe that taste 
and wealth may have produced marvellous results in its cultivation and 
embellishment. 

It was laid out in four large square beds edged with box. That nearest 
the garden room was devoted to grapes of various descriptions on trellises. 
In other parts of the garden were currants and raspberries, peaches and chei'- 



14 A IIOIME OF THE OLDEN TBIE. 

ries, and a great variety of pears then famous, but whicli are now, from 
some change of climate fatal to this sensitive fruit, almost unknown. The 
St. Michael, St. Germain, Vergouleuse and Brown Beurre, were all there in 
abundance, and one who has often partaken of them bears witness that no 
later variety has ever surpassed them in delicacy of flavor. He mentions 
an instrument in use in his day in the garden for picking the ripe pears 
from the tree without disturbing the rest. To the end of a long pole was 
attached a small net or pouch, into which the pear was dropped, after a knife 
at the rim of the pouch, sufficiently guarded not to damage the fruit, had 
sevei'ed the stem. He mentions also a mode adopted to cure the neighbor- 
ing boys of depredations, which was to send a basket of the fruit to their 
parents. Peaches too abounded, clingstones and rareripes of the choicest 
sorts, a fruit which then came to greater perfection than at present. Plans 
have been preserved of the garden, with most of the fruit trees marked in 
their positions, forty-four being enumerated within its comparatively limited 
area. 

Will our readers pardon this minute description. It is a type of many a 
pleasant abode of those hapjiy days when a rus in urhe was still a possibility. 
It is no creation of fancy, but once existed, and realizing its completeness 
as it proceeded fresh from the hands of its architect, and knowing of whom 
its family consisted, it is easy to believe that whatever human life permits of 
happiness was there experienced. Education and refinement, all that afiluence 
could yield for healthy and instructive occupation, whatever well regulated 
minds, good dispositions and natural gaiety could contribute to social and 
domestic enjoyment, was there to be found. Three sons in college and 
one at school, in the hey-day of youth, went and came. As many young 
ladies, tenderly reared, who, we have reason to believe, possessed not 
merely accomplishment, but solid acquirements, made, no doubt, the best 
of companionship for each other and the guests of the house. What is 
known of their subsequent career, of the religious sentiments of their 
parents, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that with the retreat at Braintree, 
recollections of tropical existence to soften the I'igors of a New-England 
winter, abundant wealth and disposition to enjoy the blessings of Providence 
without asceticism or Puritan reserve, it was the happiest of homes. 

In 1737 Leonard Vassall died, leaving in his will his plantations among 
his sons, giving each of his daughters when of age or married a thousand 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 15 

pounds and a negro attendant fifteen years old, the money to be one fourth 
less in case of marriage without consent of their mother and guardian. He 
made ample provision for his widow while she continued a member of the 
English Church, and gives her certain books in which he had inscribed her 
name. He leaves John his riding horse, sword, watch and personal effects, 
and makes his devise to William conditional that he make oath never to 
risk more than twenty shillings at any game at one sitting. He directs the 
Summer-street estate to be sold, and its proceeds and that of other property 
to be invested for the benefit of his younger daughter. Like his great uncle 
William, who came over with Winthrop, he seems to have been much at- 
tached to the Episcopal Church. He was early connected with Christ 
Church on Salem street, and was one of its wardens in 1727. He in- 
terested himself actively in the foundation of Trinity Church, which was 
erected about 1730, on Summer street, opposite his own dwelling. He re- 
ceived from William Speakman, later senior warden, a conveyance, in 1728, 
of the land on which the church was erected, entering the same year into 
an obligation to reconvey the same to the building committee upon payment 
of the purchase money and interest. The committee, Mr. Speakman and 
himself, in consideration of their services, were allowed to build tombs under 
the church free of charge. 

The sons emulated the father as builders of elegant mansions. Lewis, 
who lived in Quincy, died Sept. 15, 1743, having married Dorothy Macqueen, 
of Boston. His son Lewis, who graduated at Harvard College in 17 GO, died 
abroad before 1785. Col. John, the second son, lived in Cambridge. He first 
purchased the pleasant and spacious abode now occu^iied by our honored octo- 
genarian, Mr. Batchelder, and which in 1720 belonged to the Belchers. It 
is sometimes said that he built that house, but this is not so received by its 
present proprietor. He certainly did erect one of our most magnificent 
residences, that on the other side of the road, afterwards Gen. Washington's 
head-quarters during the siege of Boston, and subsequently owned by An- 
drew Craigie, Joseph L. Worcester, and now by our distinguished poet, 
Mr. Longfellow. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Lieut. Governor 
Spencer Phips, in 1734, and afterwards Lucy Barran, and died Nov. 27, 
1747. His son John, H. C. 1757, married Elizabeth Oliver, and died at 
Clifton in England, 1797, having had two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, 
and five sons — John, Col. Spencer Thomas, killed at Monte Video in 1807, 



16 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

Thomas Oliver, Robert Oliver and Leonard. The first John had three 
daughters — Ruth, who married Edward Davis, from whom descends William 
Hayden, formerly city auditor of Boston ; Elizabeth, who mari'ied Thomas 
Oliver, last Lt. Governor of Massachusetts under the crown ; and Lucy, 
by the second wife, who married John Levicount, of Antigua, in 1768. 

William, the third son, resided at one period in the house opposite 
Cambridge common, afterwards occupied by Dr. Waterhouse. The limits 
of the estate extended to that of John. He was sheriff of Middlesex. In 
the year 1700, he erected the superb mansion in Boston, afterwards Mr. 
Gardiner Greene's, taken down in 1835. He married Ann Davis, by whom 
he had eleven children, and after her death in 17 GO, Margaret Hubbard. 
At the outbreak of hostilities with the mother country, he went with his 
family to England, where some of his descendants are honored and affluent. 

Henry married, in 1741, Penelope Royall, of Medford. His brother con- 
veyed to him the Batchelder house in Cambridge, having built the Long- 
fellow mansion for himself. He had one daughter, Elizabeth, who married 
Dr. Charles Russell in 1775, a refugee, and died in Antigua in 1780. Col. 
Henry Vassall died in Cambridge, March 17, 17G9. 

The daughters of Leonard Vassall who grew up, were — Ruth, whose 
husband was Dr. Benjamin Stedman ; Elizabeth, wlio married John Miller, 
of IMilton ; Mary, Avife of Jonathan Prescott ; and Susanna, wife of George 
Ruggles. It would be out of place to enter more at large into the various 
ramifications of a family so widely distributed. The natural desire to know 
of Avhom consisted a race, which left such admirable monuments of their 
existence in the pleasant dwellings they erected, has already been met by Mr. 
Harris, New-England Historical & Genealogical Register, vol. xvii., page 
56, and also on a more comprehensive scale in his separate publication. 
Numerous descendants of Leonard Yassall by female lines remain among us 
distinguished by ancestral traits. But the name has for the most part 
perished, unless where perpetuated in the line of sable dependents who 
had assumed that of their masters, as was customary in days when one man 
could be bondsman to another. 

An anecdote is related of one of these, called Tonie Vassall, who, when 
Washington in 1775 took possession of the Longfellow mansion, was found 
swinging on the gate. Learning that Tonie belonged to the place, the Gen- 
eral, to set his mind at rest for his future, told him to go into the house and 



■ A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 17 

they would tell him what to do and give him something to eat. Feeling 
the value of his freedom, Tonie inquired what would be the wages, at which 
Washington expressed suriDi'ise at his being so unreasonable at such a time as 
to expect to be paid. Tonie lived to a gi'eat age, and when on one occasion 
he was asked what he remembered of AVashington, said lie was no gentle- 
man, he wanted boy to work without wage. Darby, a son of Tonie, had been 
promised that he should be buried in the tomb of the Vassalls under Christ 
Church, and one in wliose employment he was a long time as coachman, aiul 
whose wife's uncle had married Heni'y Yassall's daughter, procured for him 
this coveted privilege. 

Thomas Hubbard was the next possessor of the property, and for nearly 
forty years to his death in 1773, made it his abode. Of his parentage, 
whether descended from the historian, we have not been able to discover, but 
J\lr. Quincy in his history of Harvard College, Vol. ii. p. 1-'>H, says " that he 
was born in Boston in 1702, and that his early life being marked by dili- 
gence and fidelity, he had scarcely passed the threshold of manhood before 
lie was placed by his fellow citizens in stations of trust and confidence. He 
became a member of the house of representatives, held for many years the 
speaker's chair, and finally was raised to a seat in the council of the pro- 
vince, which he resigned a short time before his death. Few men have 
passed through life with a higher reputation for integrity, usefulness and 
fidelity in all the relations of public and private life. He increased the 
funds of the college by his judicious and assiduous management, and to the 
office of treasurer united the character of benefactor. He contributed one 
hundred pounds, lawful money, to supply the loss occasioned by the destruc- 
tion of Harvard Hall, made donations towards replacing the philosophical 
apparatus, and bequeathed to it at his death an additional legacy of three 
hundred pounds, lawful money, the income to be disposed of according to 
their discretion for the advancement of learning." 

Mr. Hubbard also, in his will, gave the college all his books which his widow 
should not wish to retain, requesting Dr. Andrew Eliot and Dr. Samuel 
Cooper to select the best, most curious and suitable, and place tliem in the 
alcove in the library, over which his name was inscribed. He had been 
treasurer of the college for twenty-one years, in which office he was suc- 
ceeded by John Hancock. By inquiry and examination of the public re- 
cords many additional particulars might no doubt be collected to his credit. 



18 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

He was deacon of the Old South, and in his will bequeaths two hundred 
pounds to its fund for the poor. He was also commissioner for the Marshpee 
Indians. In 1755 he was associated by the general court with Hutchinson 
in charge of the correspondence of William BoUan, Massachusetts agent in 
London, who communicates a project started in parliament' for governing the 
colonies in the same manner as Ireland. He was evidently a puritan of the 
strictest sect, fond of study, and a patron of learning, not so dead to the 
world as to allow himself discomfort in struggling with what he considered 
its temptations. If not so rich as his predecessor in the property, he left a 
good estate, inventoried at about four thousand pounds, to his widow, his 
daughter Mrs. Fayerweather, and his grandchildren Mary Boardman and 
Hubbai'd Townshend. His horses and carriages are valued at one hundred 
pounds, his plate at two hundred and forty, and he appears to have 
possessed more than seventy pictures, from the valuation not apparently of 
any great value. His portrait, by Copley, was presented to the college by his 
descendant, Mrs. Appleton. Plate seems to have abounded in the house. 
Leonard Vassall leaves one of his daughters a silver tankard, pair of candle- 
sticks and snuffers, and a two-eared caudle cup, to make her share of her 
grandmother's plate equal to the rest of her sisters and cousins. 

Upon the decease of Thomas Hubbard in 1773, and of his widow within 
a twelvemonth after, the estate, valued at one thousand pounds, passed 
through George Ruggles, son-in-law of Leonard Vassall, to Frederick W. 
Geyer. Susanna, the wife of Mr. Geyer, was daughter of Duncan, son 
of Timothy Ingraham, who married Sarah Cowell. Mr. Geyer, taking sides 
with the crown, left Boston after its evacuation by the British, and in 1778 
was exiled and his property sequestered. Tlie vSummer-street mansion, 
confiscated as an absentee estate, after the peace was, in 1787 and 1791, re- 
conveyed to him by Perez Morton, solicitor and later attorney general, the 
general court having in the interval restored him to citizenship. 

The house, in the days of Mr. Geyer, was filmed for its social gaieties and . 
elegant entertainments. Tradition tells us of tlie brilliant gatherings of wit 
and fashion around its sumptuous board, Mrs. Geyer being noted for the 
courtesy and grace with which she presided and put every one at ease. 
There could have been few pleasanter banqueting rooms in Boston. The 
family consisted of three sons, only one of whom, Frederick, who married 
Rebecca Frazier, left descendants ; and five daughters. Mary Ann became 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TBIE. 19 

in 1792 the wife of Andrew Belcher, son of Jonathan, who was governor 
of Massachusetts and New-Jersey for twenty-seven years, and father of Sir 
Edward, who has in recent times gained distinction and a baronetcy by his 
scientific and other services in the British navy. Charlotte married Joseph 
Marryatt, father of the novelist, and Catherine H., Nathaniel Tucker of 
Bellows Falls. Susan died single in 1802, and Nancy W., Feb. 13, 1794, 
married Rufus G. Amory. When this last event took place, Prince Edward, 
afterwards Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, was in Boston, on his 
way to Halifax, and was a guest at. the wedding. 

In the Salisbury house to the north then resided Madam Amory, daughter 
of William Coffin, of the Nantucket branch of the family and grandfather 
of Sir Isaac, a Boston boy, who distinguished himself in the British navy. 
Her former abode at the corner of Harvard street, erected by Governor 
Belcher, had been swept away in the great conflagration of 1787 ; and while 
two houses in the centre of the north side of Franklin place, afterwards 
occupied by herself and her eldest son, the father of the well-known Col. 
Amory of the Fireman's Insurance office, were building, she dwelt for a few 
years in Summer street. Her family was numerous, and intimate with that 
of her neighbors. Separated by a high wall from their gardens on Summer 
street were the grounds fronting on Bedford street of Mr. Rowe, as already 
mentioned. It was the same John Rowe, who, after the peace, moved the 
restoration of the codfish, now in the representatives' chamber of the 
state house on Beacon Hill, and emblem of one important branch of 
Massachusetts prosperity, to the place it occupied before the war in the 
apartment used for a similar purpose in the old state house on State street. 
His nieces, the Inmans, whose home was the large rambling mansion still 
standing in Cambridge, head-quarters of Gen. Israel Putnam during the 
siege, were frequent inmates of his family, and when Susan married Capt. 
John Linzee, commander of the British naval force in our waters in 1775, his 
relative Lord Hood, the distinguished naval officer, attended the nuptials. 

Another generation had grown up, and Mr. Rowe still occupied in winter 
the same house which stood about on the site of Dr. Robbing's church, and 
which many well remember in later days as the abode of Judge Prescott, 
the eminent jurist, and of his son, even more widely known, William H. 
Prescott the Spanish historian. The wall already mentioned, there being no 
gate of communication, was provided on either side with ladders or steps, 



20 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 

and the young people of the three families were constantly together. Here 
officers attached to Frencli fleets and cruisers that visited the port were fre- 
quent visitors. Here also on one occasion, according to family legend, in the 
summer house at the foot of the Geyer garden, the father-in-law of Mr. 
Prescott first made the acquaintance of his wife the daughter of Captain 
Linzee. This circumstance is not without interest in its connection with the 
two swords, one of Col. Prescott, grandfather of the historian, Avho com- 
manded the American forces at Bunker Hill, the other that of the grand- 
father of his wife, Captain Linzee, whose squadron flanking the fort took 
that day an active and important part in the contest. 

These two swords long held a conspicuous position in the library of the 
historian, and after his death were presented by his widow to the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society. They are now crossed over the door of en- 
trance to the Dowse Library in their rooms on Tremont street, with an ap- 
propriate inscription. The union that led to this long digression had another 
claim to be remembered, though not of such historical interest. One of the 
descendants in the second generation has recently intermarried with the 
daughter of the present proprietor of the estate. 

Those who in former days on their visits to London had the privi- 
lege of inspecting the gardens of Mrs. Marryatt, at Wimbledon, then cele- 
brated as among the finest in England for the great variety and beauty of 
the plants and flowers, may reasonably conjecture that the taste and skill 
that produced such marvels was nurtured and fostered in her earlier days 
among the flower beds of Summer street. An American traveller, who 
had himself been long an inmate of the Summer-street mansion, met, this 
very summer, one of her descendants in the south of Europe. She told 
him that Mrs. Marryatt often spoke of being as an infant passed out of the 
rear window of the house when it was assailed by the liberty boys. As she 
" died in 1855, at the age of eighty-one, the dates would correspond. The 
lady alluded to, in speaking of the family called it Von Geier, indicating a 
German origin, geier being the word in that language for vulture or hawk. 

One other reminiscence of the place may be worthy of note in a pub- 
lication largely devoted to fixmily matters, if not allowed to go any 
farther. Two young American ladies, who had married abroad gentlemen 
connected with the court of Sweden, not long since met for the first time at 
a festal entertainment in the palace at Stockholm. Among strangers, na- 



A IIP3IE OF THE OLDEN TIME. 21 

tional ties, perhaps their own language, drew them into closer companionship, 
and the conversation naturally drifting to home subjects they soon discovered 
that the family of the Geyers and this old home of theirs in Summer street 
were common and familiar topics to them both. One of them was a INIarry- 
att, and the other, though not descended from the Geyers, had lived all her 
early days in intimate association with relatives that were. 

Another interesting association with this house of the Vassalls, is that it 
was the birth-place of the late William Foster. The event occurred, it is 
presumed, as he was over ninety when he died, soon after Mr. Geyer quitted 
it for England. It may warrant the relation of an incident of his youth- 
ful career which ought not to be lost. Sent out by his father, during the 
reign of terror in France, to Morlaiz, in Brittany, on conmiercial affairs, he 
made the acquaintance of his future wife in an humble garb assumed to 
escape persecutions, to which, at that time, all the wealthier classes of society 
were exposed. Her father, M. Perron, proprietor of valuable estates in the 
neighborhood, had fled from the fury of the " red republicans," leaving his 
daughter in chai'ge of one of his tenants, under whose roof he was en- 
couraged to believe she would escape observation, Mr. Foster, who at 
once penetrated her disguise, was attracted by her beauty and loveliness of 
character, and the acquaintance thus accidentally formed ripened into recip- 
rocal regard. "When her guardian discovered the interest she betrayed in 
him, reposing entire trust in the integrity of his character, he revealed to 
him, in confidence, who she was, imploring him to desist from attentions 
which if noticed might subject them all to unpleasant consequences. He 
of course felt bound to acquiesce in the prudence of this counsel. But not 
long afterwards, her father returning, before the popular agitation had 
subsided, his chateau was attacked by the republicans. Mr. Foster ren- 
dered such efficient sei'vice in successfully defending it, that all farther 
objection to the match was removed, they were married, and Mr. Foster 
brought his wife to America. They had two daughters, one of whom mar- 
ried and resides in France, and the other is now the widow of the late 
Henry Tudor. The sister of Mrs. Foster married a brother of the cele- 
brated General Moreau. Long after the death of his wife Mr. Foster 
erected a handsome stone mansion, beautifully situated on the borders of 
Spot Pond, in the neighborhood of Boston, which he mentioned to the 
writer resembled, in material and arrangement, as nearly as prevailing 



22 A HOME or THE OLDEN TIME. 

modes of construction permitted, the chateau of his wife's parents iu 
JBrittauy. 

Three years before his death in 1803, M. Geyer removed to tlie romantic 
residence afterwards occupied by his son-in-law Mr. Tucker at Bellows Falls, 
on Connecticut river, disposing of the Summer-street estate to Mr. Samuel 
P. Gardner. Mr. Gardner was of the Salem branch of the name, and mar- 
ried a daughter of Judge Lowell. As their near relatives were among the 
most gifted and eminent of the first half of this present century, the house 
retained its social attraction and fame for generous hospitality until the pro- 
gress of improvement compelled an appropriation of the estate to other 
jjurposes. Their second son, its present proi^rietor, erected upon it for the 
great commercial house of the Hoveys, one large mart for their extensive 
business, now by recent enlargement covering its whole area. 

As the Gardners have held the property for seventy years, it would be 
an omission in a work of this kind not to present a cursory view of their 
several generations. Our limits forbid the extended details the subject de- 
mands, but it is to be hoped their family history will be perpetuated in a 
form, to render accessible to its numerous descendants and connections all 
the information they may wish. The name is largely multiplied on both 
sides the ocean, several distinct branches bearing it in New-England, not 
known to be connected. That to which belonged the patriot treasui'er of 
the revolution, progenitor of our recent governor, is believed to be from a 
different stem. 

1. Thomas Gardner, the first of the Salem stock, came over in 1624 
from Dorsetshire, England, in which neighborhood the name had flourished 
for more than three centuries, and settled, under the auspices of the Dorches- 
ter Company and of the Rev. John White, with thirteen others, at 
Gloucester, Cape Ann, upon the grant of Lord Sheffield to Robert Cushman 
and Edward Winslow made in January of that year. Mr. Gardner was 
overseer of the plantation, John Tylley of the fisheries, Roger Conant being 
soon after appointed governor. Not realizing the success they anticipated 
in founding a colony, they removed, in 1G26, to Naumkeag, or Salem, which 
continued the home of Mr. Gardner and his descendants down to this pre- 
sent century. He died in 1G35. 

2. Thomas, his son, an eminent merchant, was born 1592, and died 1674. 
He held several town offices, and was member of the general court in 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 23 

1G37. By Ills wives Margaret Frier and Damaris Shattuck he had: 1. 
Thomas. 2. George. 3. Richard. 4. John. 5. Samuel. G. Josei)h. 7. 
Sarah, wife of Benjamin Balch ; 8. Miriam, of John Hill ; 9. Ruth, in 
1638 of John Grafton. From these were many descendants. Josej^h 
commanded the Salem comj^any in King Philip's war, and commended for 
his courage by its historians, was killed, with eight of his own men and six 
other captains, in an attack on an Indian fort, in the great battle in the 
Narraganset swamp, 19 Dec, 1G75. His wife was daughter of Emanuel 
and sister of the celebrated Sir George Downing, after whom Downing 
street in London was named, and who was one of the earliest graduates 
of Harvard College. His widow, about 1G8G, married Governor Bradstreet. 
It is probable that through this connection the noble house erected by the 
governor, of which an engraving is to be found in Felt's Salem, came into 
the Gardner family. Richard with three of his children removed to Nan- 
tucket, where more were born unto him. His eldest daughter, Sarah, be- 
came the wife of Eleazer Folger, brother of Dr. Franklin's mother. Some 
of liis descendants intermarried with the Coffins, Macys, Starbucks and other 
well-known names of that sea-girt isle, greatly multiplying and continuing 
prosperous down to our own time. Bi-anches from this line have spread 
over the country, and descendants of Richard are found in many places. 
The impression that they derive their origin from some other parent source 
than Thomas of Caj^e Ann, is altogether erroneous, and the numerous 
offshoots from that sturdy stock may embrace many more about the land. 
Samuel was a merchant, deputy to the general court, and as one of its select- 
men, trustee of the Indian deed of the town of Salem, Oct. 11, 1G8G. 

3. George, the second son of the second Thomas, was born before his 
father came to America, and died 1679. He engaged in business at Hart- 
ford, and tlaere accumulated a large estate. His first wife was Elizabeth 
Orne, by whom he had seven children. 1. Hannah, wife of John Buttolph. 
2. Samuel. 3. Mary, wife of Habakkuk Turner. 4. George. 5. Ruth, 
wife of John Ilathorne, one of the Judges in the trials for witchcraft. 6. 
Ebenezer, who married, in 1681, Sarah Bartholomew, and died in 1685, at 
the age of twenty-eight, bequeathed a considerable property by his will, as he 
had no children of his own, among his brothers, sisters and other kins- 
folk, from the mention of whom in that instrument much information 
as to the earlier generations of the name has been derived. 7. Mehitable. 



24 A HOME OF THE OLDEN TI31E. 

The second wife of Mr. Gai-dner, was Mrs. Rutli Turner, a name wliicli is 
suggestive. His daugliter Mary had married one of the same ftvmily, and this 
connection probably led to her father's selection in this second marriage. 

4. Samuel, born 1G48, died 1724 ; married, 1G73, Elizabeth, daughter of 
John Brown, widow of Joseph Grafton. He was a merchant, and also culti- 
vated a farm. In the Indian wars he commanded a company. His children 
were: 1. George. 2. Hannah, born 1G7G, married John Higginson, 1695, 
by whom she had four children and died 1718. 3. George, born 1G79. 4. 
John, mentioned below. 

5. John, born 1G81 ; died before 1724; married Elizabeth, daughter of 
Dr. Daniel Weld. He commanded the Salem company in the battle, Aug. 
29, 1708, at Haverhill, when it was attacked by French and Indians, and 
slew with his own hands an Indian, some of whose arms and equipments 
are still in possession of his descendants. For several years he repre- 
sented Salem in the general court ; but his constitution not being very strong 
he engaged in no active business. His children were: 1. Elizabeth, born, 
1705, wife of Jonathan Gardner, who had the title of Commodore. 2. John, 
of vfhom hereafter. 3. Ebenezer, born 1708, died young. 3. Daniel, 
born 1709, died 17GG ; married Ann Putnam. 4. Hannah, born 1711, wife 
of Samuel Ilolton, and niotlier of Judge Ilolton, at one time President of 
Congress. 5. Samuel, born 1712, died 17G9, graduate of Harvard, mar- 
ried Esther Orne, by whom he had several children. His second wife was 
Mrs. Winslow, daughter of Eichard Clarke, one of the consignees of the tea de- 
stroyed in Boston harbor in 1773, and sister of the wife of Copley the painter. 
He held many town offices, represented Salem in the general court, and left 
an estate of one liundred thousand dollars. William Gray, the distinguished 
merchant and Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, had been two years in his 
counting-room at the time of his decease. His two sons George and Henry 
were graduates of Harvard, in the classes respectively of 17G2 and 17G5. 
The former left the college about five thousand dollars, the Marine Soci- 
ety for superannuated seamen over seven thousand, and to the poor 
of Salem nearly fifteen hundred. G. Lydia. 7. *Bethiah, born 1715, 
died 1773, married Nathaniel Ingersol. Their daughter Mary, by Habak- 
kuk Bowditch, was the mother of the celebrated mathematician Dr. Bow- 
ditch. 8. Ruth, married, 1st, Bartholomew Putnam ; 2d, Jonathan Goodhue, 
father by a former wife of Benjamin, in congress from Salem. 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 25 

6. John, born in 1707, died 17<S1, in a house which stood on the present 
site cfthe Salem Museum. He married Elizabeth Putnam, widow of her cou- 
sin William, brother of Gen. Israel Putnam of the revolution, by whom he had 

1. John, of whom hereafter. 2. Elizabeth, born 17.'51, died 17")4, umnar- 
ried. Mrs. Gardner had two daughters by INIr. Putnam ; one, wife of Jona- 
than Orne, and the other of Jonathan Gardner. By his second wife Eliza- 
beth, widow of Capt. Benjamin Herbert, he had no child, but bj^ his third, 
Mary Peal, born 1733, died 182G, he had — Mary, wife of 1. Abel Hersey ; 

2. of William Lemon. He had no exclusive occupation, engaging a little in 
commerce, and being possessed of a farm and mill between Salem and Mar- 
blehead. He commanded a troop of horse, and for some years was sent to 
the legislature from Salem. 

7. John, born 1731, died 180o. His first wife was IVfary Gale, of INIar- 
blehead, born 1728, died 1755; his second, Elizabeth, sister of Col. Timothy 
Pickering of the revolution, and Secretary of State in the cal>inets of Wash- 
ington and John Adams. By her he had three children : 1. Elizal)eth, born 

1759, died 1816; married, 1782, Samuel Blanchard, born 1756, died 1813, 
surgeon in the army of the revolution. She was the grandmother by her son 
Francis, born 1784 and who married Mary Ann, daughter of Francis Cabot, 
widow of N. C. Lee, of the first Mrs. Robert C. Winthrop. 2. John, born 

1760, died 1792, a successful merchant at Charleston, S. C. 3. Sanuiel P., 
mentioned below. Early in life Mr. Gardner commanded a vessel to the 
West Lidies, and during the revolution owned several privateers, all success- 
ful, but the Black Prince and Hector, in the Penobscot expedition of 1779, 
by which he was a loser. At the commencement of the war he purchased 
a farm of two hundred acres at Weuham, and erected upon it a house in ^\ Inch 
he resided till his death. 

8. Samuel P., born 1767, died 1843, graduated at Harvard College 
1786, engaged in mercantile business with his brother John, at Charleston, 
S. C. ; removed to Boston 1793, and married 19 Sept., 1797, at Koxbury, 
llebecca Russell, born May 17, 1779, fourth daughter of Judge John Low- 
ell, by Rebecca, daughter of James Russell, born 1715, died 1798. He 
purchased as before stated the Summer-street estate in 1800. His cliil- 
dren were : 1. Mrs. John C. Gray. 2. Mrs. Francis C. Lowell. 3. John 
L. 4. Mrs. Horace Gray. 5. George. 6. Francis L., born 1811, 
died 1812. 



20 A HOME or THE OLDEN TIME. 

It is not our purpose to enter more at large into the history of the fam- 
ily, in their two last generations and for nearly three quarters of a century 
proprietors of Gamaliel's garden. Enough has been said to indicate in how 
many interesting ways they have been connected with the annals of New- 
England from its earliest settlement. Their several intermarriages with the 
Ornes, Browns, Welds, Putnams, Wingates, Pickerings, Lowells, Russells, 
and other names from public service and wide distribution among our existing 
community familiar as household words, would justify, if the occasion war- 
ranted, a much longer relation. We might obtain from it many entertaining 
and instructive glimpses of social life under the kings, and also in the stirring 
times that brought about our liberties. But our main subject is the old 
house in Summer street, and only incidentally the family jiedigrees of its 
various inmates. Its occupation by its last proprietors, not less interesting 
than any previous period of its history, is too recent for other reference in 
tliese present pages than the foregoing brief statement of their progeni- 
tors for fomily use. 

P(jssibly with livelier interest ourselves in the subject than will be shared 
by all our readers, we have ventured to place before them some account of 
this ancient mansion. Tlie i)ublic, reduced to its component parts, consists of 
individuals variously connected by ties of consanguinity or friendship, and 
among them not a few have special associations with this house or its inhabi- 
tants. But were its appeal to be rescued from oblivion exclusively antiqua- 
rian, little apology seems called for. Every vestige of the past has been 
explored for knowledge of remote generations of other lands and races, and 
we certainly should not begrudge an occasional thought to those so much 
nearer and daarer. Unless we preserve by pencil and pen some notice of 
their homes, we shall have allowed to perish an element in their existence, 
which, if secondary, still affords a very realizing sense of their existence. 

SuiTounded by modern palaces, with all tlie embellishments the fine arts 
can create or appliances for comfort tlie useful have invented, it may seem 
unreasonable to attach importance to these old abodes. The contrast in 
some respects is not much to their advantage. When we consider how many 
indispensable contrivances for daily use are universal, which a century ago 
no wealth could purchase, we fully ai>})reciate the privilege of having our 
own lot cast in this nineteenth century. All we know however of other 
days and generations confirms the faith that content depends little on sur- 



A HOME OF THE OLDEN TIME. 27 

rounclings. Blessings in common to our progenitors and ourselves surpass 
immeasurably in their capabilities of producing happiness, whatsoever has 
been added since by ingenuity or wisdom. 

But the claims of these old homes to be held iu sacred remembrance is 
not their beauty of form or excellence of structure, or even the light they 
shed on modes and processes of days gone by. When in contemplative mood 
we gaze upon their venerable remains, or as in this instance recall from the 
dead past their ghostly presence, they seem alive with recollections. If in 
private life the incidents of a single career narrated without reserve prove 
often as striking as romance, the history of a dwelling embracing the chances 
and changes of mortal existence for a host of successive occupants may oc- 
casionally possess an interest no less. Due regard must be paid to what 
even the over sensitive deem unsuitable for publication. But after full 
allowance for such considerations, enough may be revealed within the most 
scrupulous limits of decorum to bring before us in living reality admirable 
men and women of the past, with whom we feel almost as well acquainted 
as if we had lived with them in daily companionship. This old house of the 
Vassalls has a record we think our readers will admit too eventful to be lost. 
There are numerous others in our New-England corner of the earth, not in 
cities alone, but in covmtry jslaces, about which even more pleasant tales 
can be told. 



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